Office of Insular Affairs (May 12, 2008) — Emelihter Kihleng, described as one the most gifted young writers in the Pacific, is launching her first collection of poems entitled My Urohs. She was recently in Hawaii for her book launch, doing readings at the different University of Hawaii campuses. She will also be holding book launch events in Guam this week.
Ms. Kihleng was born on Guam, and has spent much of her life moving back and forth between her native island of Pohnpei, Hawai'i (Honolulu) and Guam. She has an MA in English, Creative Writing from the University of Hawai'i at Mänoa and spent the past year living and teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) at the College of Micronesia in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. She currently resides on Guam, working at the University of Guam's Violence Against Women Prevention Program.
When asked about her inspiration for her work, Ms. Kihleng said she likes to write about people and places she knows and things that are important to her. She is inspired by other writers, especially Pacific Islander writers like Sia Figiel, Albert Wendt and Teresia Teaiwa. She noted that there are more writers from Polynesia and Melanesia and that she would like to see more literature from Micronesia represented in the growing literature of the Pacific Islands.
Ms. Kihleng chose to title her collection of poems My Urohs, after one of the poems in the collection with the same title. The poem My Urohs, said the author, "uses the urohs, the quintessential dress of a Pohnpeian woman as a symbol of Pohnpeian women and Pohnpeian culture. I chose to title the collection My Urohs, after the poem because the poem is the essence of the collection as a whole: colorful, tragic, beautiful, colonized and indigenous all at the same time."
Ms. Kihleng's poems have been published in a number of online venues, including Trout, Chain, Bamboo Ridge, and Tinfish. The full collection is available at the University of Hawaii Bookstore, Native Books and Beautiful Things bookstore in Hawaii, and also online at www.lulu.com/kahuaomanoa. It will be available at Borders soon.
Ms. Kihleng has provided below a poem from her collection.
doesn't taste good here in Honolulu
I wanna eat it sweating in the heat,
sitting on a rock,
under a guava tree
with my red-fingered friends
dip, dip our green mango
lick, lick our fingers
tongues turning dark red
Note: Kool-Aid: A mixture of ajinomoto (MSG), soy sauce, salt, and unsweetened kool- aid powder eaten throughout Micronesia.
"[Emelihter Kihleng's] poetry is refreshingly innovative and compelling, a new way of seeing ourselves in our islands, an important and influential addition to our literature." -- Albert Wendt, from the cover of My Urohs.
Emelihter Kihleng's first collection of poems, My Urohs, is engaging from the beginning. Published by Kahuaomanoa Press, My Urohs is the first collection in English by a Micronesian poet--one of the most gifted young writers in the Pacific. She writes of Micronesian Islands and Micronesian women and men in their home islands and in the diaspora--"ethnographic poetry," as described by writer and poet Teresia Teaiwa.