Voices from Okinawa


In researching this Pick of the Week (due out Thursday, January 14th), I came across a great blog! (http://manoaokinawaissue.wordpress.com/jon-shirota/)

Its list of great links lead to a wealth of great work (just a few mentioned here). Grab a cup ‘o tea and enjoy the read!

{NOTE: Meet Mr. Shirota at the Okinawan Kenjin Kai on Thursday night! Find out more here. PAU NOTE}

(1) Fascinating insight to Shirota’s relationship with his writing mentor Lowney Turner Handy, and his time spent at The Handy Writers’ Colony in Marshall, Illinois. By Ray Elliot, president of the James Jones Literary Society. http://www.jamesjonesliterarysociety.org/JON.HTM / (FO’ MO': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handy_Writers%27_Colony)

(2) Malamalama, the magazine of the University of Hawaii, discusses the 20th anniversary of Manoa, the university’s literary journal. Great web-extra: beautiful cover-art slideshow and interview with editor Frank Stewart. http://www.hawaii.edu/malamalama/2009/03/manoa-journal-turns-twenty/

(3) Sometimes, I travel inter-island just so I can read Hana Hou! http://www.hanahou.com/pages/magazine.asp?Action=DrawArticle&ArticleID=799&MagazineID=51&Page=1

* features reproductions of rare woodblock prints from Hamilton Library’s Sakamaki/Hawley Collection.


Friday (January 15) – Saturday (January 16), McCoy Studio Theater, MACC, $22

For four years, Peahi-born Jon Shirota wrote diligently to Lowney Turner Handy, in efforts gain acceptance to The Handy Writers’ Colony in Marshall, Illinois. “When Lowney telegraphed him to come to Marshall in 1963, Shirota immediately quit his job of six and a half years and drove more than half way across the country,” writes Ray Elliott, president of the James Jones Literary Society. It was during his final year at Brigham Young University, that Shirota read From Here to Eternity (authored by Jones, Lowney’s “most famous protégé”), and says of his subsequent inspiration, “I have a book in me that’s better than that.” In 1966, two years after Handy’s death (he was one of the last under her tutelage), Shirota penned Lucky Come Hawai’i, followed by Pineapple White in 1974—after which he began playwriting. His latest, Voices from Okinawa, was published as the summer 2009 edition of Manoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing (the University of Hawai’i’s literary journal currently celebrating it’s 20th anniversary). The East West Players debuted the play in Los Angeles in February 2008, while this weekend, Mauians can enjoy Kumu Kahua Theater’s staging. Still not enamored? Hana Hou! reports his LA workplace is a “wood-paneled second-story office, filled with Kerouac novels, award placards, war memorabilia and a filing system that covers the floor next to his desk, he’s filled with nostalgia for his family and his Island homeland.” 808-242-7469.


Since his 1966 debut “Lucky Come Hawaii,” Jon Shirota has time and again solidified his position as one of the most celebrated literary voices of the Nisei generation. Meet the man himself, on the eve of “Voices from Okinawa” making a two-day run at the MACC.

And yet he has no Wiki page?!?! A freakin’ cool blog and no Wiki page?! What’s the Wiki World come to?




  • pat

    Thanks for the great write-up on our blog! Warmest, Pat