This past Thursday, March 1, 2012, I attended two poetry events in Honolulu. The first was an English department colloquium presented by four University of Hawai`i at Mānoa graduate students, Lyz Soto, No`u Revilla, Aiko Yamashiro, and Jaimie Gusman, entitled “Place, Space, and Performance in Poetry.” The second was “A Conversation with W.S. Merwin” at Kennedy Theater on the UHM campus. As luck would have it, Merwin also wanted to talk about place. After receiving an honorary doctorate and the gift of a poi pounder, he noted that the honor was especially meaningful to him because it came from the place he'd “adopted as [his] homeland.” Throughout both presentations, the conflict between home as a chosen place and home as a place “clutched to bone” resonated; it resonated very close to that bone.
Jaimie Gusman opened the afternoon colloquium by reading part of an essay on “white space” in poetry. She began a meditation with the word “open,” which is one meaning of white space. But another meaning of “white space” came quickly after in Aiko Yamashiro's singing of the hapa haole song “Haole Hula,” which you can listen to here.