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The Ocean Knows My Name

A visual poem honoring mama moana as the keeper of ancient memories, the one who connects the Pasifika diaspora with our home islands.

The ocean knows my name
she wrote ancient stories on my soul
memories not mine riding tides
like my voyaging ancestors

In time, the ocean leads me home
not to stay, simply to show
that I belong
to coral sand and coconut trees.

When the heart aches
to be whole, to return
her waves sing comfort
catching tears to carry home
so the sand will remember me.

I ask why the ocean should know me
an abundance of life in your waters
the very depths assigned to your care
and ocean replies
I, too, am one of hers.

She reminds me 
our bones are volcanic rock
salt water flowing in our veins
home and belonging
echoing inside our skin
like the sound of waves in a shell.

Is it enough for home and place 
to meet in us?
People of the ocean
guided by currents of gratitude
for the gift of knowing and
being known by an ocean.

The ocean knew many names
before she knew mine
she will know many
after we are gone.

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Art begins with relationship

Last November I traveled to Auckland to attend the 2018 Pacific Heritage Arts Fono. What a privilege it was to learn from master artists! So many lessons. I’ve been unpacking those lessons ever since.

The word I kept returning to was relationship. Pacific cultures are community centered, unlike our individualistically driven American culture. Creating art can be so vulnerable, sometimes it’s easier to create from a vacuum, insulated from others.

There was unquestionable value in learning tangible skills from the master artists. But for me, even more valuable was the time spent listening, hearing the stories of others, their struggles and triumphs.

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Hikianalia in San Diego

I got the chance to watch the welcoming of Hikianalia, a traditional Polynesian va’a (canoe) when she arrived in San Diego.

This was meant to be a different kind of video but I had an experience. It was magic; I could have stayed on Hikianalia for hours. 🙂 Have you ever had an experience like that? I’d love to hear about in the comments!

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The Heartbeat of PIFA – Pacific Islander Festival San Diego

The power of PIFA San Diego is in the cultural villages! Experiencing the peoples of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia at one massive festival has made a positive impact on my own life. It can do the same for yours – come join us next year!