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He Lei Ho‘oheno no nä Kau a Kau: Language, Performance, and Form in Hawaiian Poetry

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Title:He Lei Ho‘oheno no nä Kau a Kau: Language, Performance, and Form in Hawaiian Poetry
Authors:Ho‘omanawanui, Ku‘ualoha
Keywords:Hawaiian poetry
Hawaiian literature
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:2005
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Ho‘omanawanui, K. 2005. He Lei Ho‘oheno no nä Kau a Kau: Language, Performance, and Form in Hawaiian Poetry. The Contemporary Pacific 17 (1): 29-81.
Abstract:Hawaiian poetry developed in the nurturing embrace of oral tradition for nearly
two thousand years before American missionaries introduced writing in the
1820s. Once literacy was established, Native Hawaiians enthusiastically set out
to use the new technology to record their oral traditions in writing. During this
period they also experimented with and developed new forms of mele, such as
hula ku‘i. After the Hawaiian language was banned and the government overthrown
in the late nineteenth century, there was a period where Hawaiian poetry
was carried forward into the twentieth century by entertainers—singers, dancers,
and musicians—who kept the performance aspect of Hawaiian poetry alive. The
art of Hawaiian poetry was transformed in the latter half of the twentieth century,
when haku mele (poets) began to write primarily in English and Hawai‘i
Creole English while still maintaining Hawaiian themes and utilizing traditional
metaphors. Since then, contemporary Hawaiian poetry in these languages has
thrived alongside Hawaiian-language compositions, which are still perpetuated,
mostly through the practice of hula. Today, Hawaiian poetry can be best
described by using the metaphor of a haku lei, where different strands of language
and influence are woven together to create something beautiful and
unique, an enduring and perpetual symbol of Hawaiian cultural tradition—a lei
ho‘oheno no nä kau a kau, a lei to be cherished for all seasons.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 2005 - Volume 17, Number 1

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