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Literature of the Pacific: Spoken Word Poetry in The Pacific

A guide to online and print sources related primarily to indigenous Pacific literature


Amplified poetry – recorded poetry that utilizes layering of poets voices, reverb, remixes, music, distortion or other effects to create a piece of poetry that could not be produced without technical help. It is poetry meets soundscape and is 

Performance poetry - Poetry written for performance and not always for printed publication. May include music, costumes, props, lighting techniques, and can be experimental in nature. 


Spoken word - Category of recording invented by the recording industry to classify recordings of people speaking. Can include poetry, audio books, radio plays, traditional chants and stories, etc ... 


Spoken word poetry - Poetry that is written for performance, but doesn't necessarily include the expiramental elements of performance poetry. Slam poetry falls into this category. 


Poetry slamA poetry competition where an individual poet, or a team pf poets, perform(s) their own original work in three minutes or less. Poems are scored on a scale from 1.0 to 10.0 by five members of the audience, chosen at random. Poets cannot use props, costumes, musical accompaniment, or animal acts. 


Slam poetry - Performance poetry that was written for and/or performed at a slam competition. 


Audio and Video

Electric Laulau

Location at UH Libraries: COMPACT DISC 8574   or COMPACT DISC DZ2 

Spoken word/amplified poetry in pidgin by Native Hawaiian poet Joe Balaz.


Fast talking PI

Location at UH Libraries: PR9642.M376 F38 2009

The book and spoken word CD by Aotearoa/New Zealand based poet Selina Tusitala Marsh


Guam Youth Slam

YouTube chanel for the Sinangån-ta Poetry Slam. 


HBOs Brave New Voices

Location at UH Libraries: DVD 9063

Follows numerous 2008 Youth Poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in, the Brave New Voices poetry competition. The Hawaiʻi team, which one that year, is one of the teams that was followed. 


I Can See Fiji: Poetry and Sound

Location at UH Libraries: COMPACT DISC 15740 

Collection of spoken word poems by Teresia Teaiwa.



Location at UH Libraries: COMPACT DISC 14291

The poetry CD of Kealoha, founder and host of Hawaii slam.


Long Story Short - Kealoha Hawaii-Born "Slam Poet"

Interview with Kealoha on the Hawaiʻi PBS show, Long Story Short. Contains audi, video, and a transcript.


South Auckland Poets Collective

Video performances by the poets with teh South Auckland Poets Collective. 


Spoken Heard with Tui Scanlan and Susan Dobbe Chase

Interview and poetry Tui-Z, Hawaii slam poet.


Terenesia: Amplified Poetry and Songs

Location at UH Libraries: COMPACT DISC 8608   or COMPACT DISC DU1 

A collection of amplified poetry by Pacific poet and scholar Teresia Teaiwa, includes a collaboration track with Sia Figel.



A collection of amplified poetry by Hawaiʻi based poets Cragi Santos Perez and Brandy Nalani McDougall.


Virtual fleality

Location at UH Libraries: COMPACT DISC 14770 

A combination of poetry and music by Hawaiʻi based red flea.


Youth Speaks Hawaii YouTube

Video recorded performances by the members of Youth Speaks Hawaii, a rich source of spoken word poetry from Hawaiʻi






This section is a guide to slam/performance/spoken word poetry by Pacific Islanders. This medium of expression has gained popularity over the last decade in Hawaiʻi and has become popular more recently in places such as Fiji and Aotearoa/New Zealand. This section serves as an interoduciton to those artists and organizations who utlize this kind of poetry. 

Compiled by Kealiʻi MacKenzie - June 2013

Web Sites

Big SLAM Poetry - Fiji

The Face Book page for the yearly poetry slam event in Suva, Fiji. Has many links, information, videos, and photographs of performers. 



Hawaii Slam and First Thursdays

Hawaii Slam is Honolulu's oldest monthly poetry slam . Contains information about upcoming slams and links to articles about slam poetry in Hawaiʻi



Niu Navigations

Web site for the Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand based youth spoken word program. Run by poets Daren Kamali and Grace Taylor.



Pacific Tongues

The web site for Pacific Tongues, a Honolulu based non-profit devoted to spoken-arts education among youth aged 12-19. Also, the parent organization for Youth Speaks Hawai'i. 



South Auckland Poets Collective

The SAPC is a program of the Auckland, Aorearoa/New Zealand based Youth Line. Their goal is to use spoken word poetry as a positive force for youth. 

Poetry Performances


Daren Kamali

"DK Poetry Visual"

Performed in 2013, utilizes elements of poetry and music. 




"Science Poetry Life"

TEDx talk given by Hawaiʻi slam host Kealoha. Includes a combination of poetry, lecture, and music.



Kathy Jetnil-Kijner

"History Project"

Performance by spoken word poet, and former Youth Speaks member, from the Marshall Islands. 



Grace Taylor

"Being Afakasi"

Poem performed by Aotearoa/New Zealand based poet, Niu Navigations co-founder, and 2008 Poetry Idol winner. 



Tersia Tinei Siagatonu


Poem performed at the 2012 National Poetry Slam by Bay area based Samoan poet. 




"I Name you 'Beast'"

Rerecorded at the now defunct Hawaii Theater Slam, this is by Samoan-Hawaiian slam poet. 



Youth Speaks Hawaii Team - 2008


Multi-voice/group piece from the 2008 Brave New Voices finals stage. 



Zane Scarborough and Lina Tukunga

"Heart Speak"

Dual voice poem from two poets in the South Auckland Poets Collective.




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Stu Dawrs
Pacific Collection, Hamilton Library

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Subjects: Pacific

Articles, Blogs, and Entries Related to Spoken Word

Blackmail Press Spoken Word Edition

NZ poetry publication, special issue with a focus on spoken word artists. Majority of poets are Pacific



Tuesday Pacific Tongues Writing Workshop

An article by poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijner about a weekly workshop at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa she co-facilitated with Navid Najafi.



What It Means to Be Heard

A piece from the Honolulu Weekly concerning the 2012 Spoken Word Symposium


Big Slam Poetry

Article from the Fiji times about the history of slams and spoken word in Fiji.



Spoken Word Movements in the Pacific Islands

2011 blog post about spoken word in Fiji provides a good history of its beginnings.



Guam Spoken Word

Guamapedia entry on Sinangån-ta, the spoken word movement in Guam, which is focused on youth. 



Speaking Their Art

April/May 2004 article from Hana Hou! about First Thursday/Hawaii Slam. 



Youth Speaks Hawaii Grand Slam Slam Poetry Slam

Article about the Spring 2013 Youth Speaks Hawaii grand slam held at the Creative and the office of Pacific Tongues.