Contemporary Euro-American Poetry of Hawai’i & TinFish Press Feature with Margo Berdeshevsky, Ya-Wen Ho, Janna Plant, Eric Paul Shaffer and Maged Zaher, Hosted by Susan M. Schultz, June 8, 2013

Jack London Is DeadOn Saturday, June 8 at 7:30 PM Counterpath hosted a Launch for Jack London Is Dead: Contemporary Euro-American Poetry of Hawai’i & TinFish Press Feature with Margo Berdeshevsky, Ya-Wen Ho, Janna Plant, Eric Paul Shaffer and Maged Zaher. Hosted by Susan M. Schultz.

Tinfish Press was founded in 1995 to publish experimental poetry from the Pacific. Tinfish published a journal through 20 issues, but now concentrates on chapbooks and full-length books of poetry. Ron Silliman has called Tinfish “one of the great small presses of the United States.” Our catalogue can be found at

Jack London Is Dead: Contemporary Euro-American Poetry in Hawai’i (and Some Stories):

Many white (or, as this anthology calls them, Euro-American) poets have made Hawai`i home, either permanently or for a significant portion of their lives. But, in a place marked by communities of writers marked as “local” or Asian or Indigenous, there is no such community of Euro-American writers. Euro-American poetry seems to exist at two poles, either as the writing still to be resisted by non-white writers, or as work that comes from somewhere else, and is thus not relevant to Hawai`’s literature. This anthology features seventeen writers of poetry (and some prose), as well as their statements about being a Euro-American writer in Hawai`i. It looks at what happens after Euro-American literature has been de-centered, de-canonized. Jack London is Dead presents writers whose work has been deeply influenced by Hawai`i, and whose poetry adds valuable voices to a complicated mix of ethnic cultures. Featured in this volume are the more experimental of the myriad Euro-American voices among Hawai`i’s many exciting writers.

Margo Berdeshevsky currently lives in Paris . She is author of the poetry collections, Between Soul and Stone, and But a Passage in Wilderness, (Sheep Meadow Press /2011 & 2007,) and a book of stories, Beautiful Soon Enough, (illustrated with her photo-montages,) recipient of which received Fiction Collective Two’s American Book Review/Ronald Sukenick/ Innovative Fiction Award (University of Alabama Press/2009.) Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, 8 Pushcart Prize nominations, 2 Pushcart “special mention” citations. Her works are published in journals in England, France, Hawai’i and throughout mainland USA, including Kenyon Review, AGNI, New Letters, & Poetry International. She lived and wrote in Huelo on Maui for twenty-five years; taught as a “poet in the schools” throughout the islands; and traveled across other oceans. She worked in a survivors’ clinic after the 2005 tsunami in Aceh, and she currently lives and writes in Paris, France. Please see her websites: and

Ya-Wen Ho graduated from her BA/BFA conjoint degree at the University of Auckland in 2011. She suffers the happy problem of having more ideas than the time and resources to execute them all, which is why she loves writing the kind of long poem found in her first book, last edited [insert time here], TinFish Press in late 2012: these poems allow her to revel in a plethora of ideas in a compact and economic form. She’s currently working on starting an experimental writing journal lea phs.

Janna Plant lived on O’ahu full time from 1996-2009. She moved there when she was 19, having never visited or done any research about the place. The new context was an experiment. She left in 2009 to pursue an MFA from the Kerouac School in Boulder, Colorado, and missed Hawai’i’s wildlife so much that she purchased a cockroach encased in Lucite for her kitchen shelf. She learned poetry from the wildernesses of O’ahu, and returns there often. She is the author of The Refinery (BlazeVOX), an experimental essay about the processes of gender. Other work can be found online and in print at such places as Diagram, Fact-Simile, and Matter Journal. She has work forthcoming in A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park (Wolverine Farm Publishing), as well as a chapbook from Roots + Limbs Press.

Susan M. Schultz has lived in Hawai`i since 1990 and teaches in the English department at the university there. She is author of several books of poems and poetic prose: _Aleatory Allegories_ (Salt), _Memory Cards and Adoption Papers_ (Potes & Poets), _And Then Something Happened_ (Salt), _Dementia Blog_ (Singing Horse), _Memory Cards: 2010-2011 Series_ (Singing Horse) and _”She’s Welcome to Her Disease”: Dementia Blog, Volume Two_ (Singing Horse–they like me!). She is also a critic, editor, and publisher. She founded Tinfish Press in 1995, and a fervent blogger, at In her free time, she watches her beloved St. Louis Cardinals on and hangs out with family in Kan`eohe.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of five books of poetry, including L?haina Noon and Portable Planet. His poetry appears in North American Review, Rattle, Slate, and The Sun Magazine, as well reviews in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, New Zealand, and Scotland. His work is anthologized in 100 Poets Against the War (Salt, 2003), The Soul Unearthed (Tarcher/Putnam, 2002), and the recently-released Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity University Press, 2013). Shaffer received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po’okela Book Award for L?haina Noon, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry. He was the guest speaker at Hawai’i Pacific University’s 16th Annual Ko’olau Writing Workshops (2013). Burn & Learn, his first novel, was published in 2009. Shaffer lives on O’ahu and teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.


Praise for Jack London Is Dead:

“To contested questions of agency and authenticity in contemporary Hawai?i, this collection makes an important contribution. By clearing a public space for White authors to think (and write) through issues of a positionality compromised by the ruptures of historical violence and present day colonialism, editor Susan M. Schultz has done a brave thing. There are those who will object to this project by challenging the right of non-Indigenous “others” to write about Hawai?i. However, the sensitivity of featured authors to the complex instability of their own standing as White writers in Hawai?i offers a nuanced, layered response to that call of challenge. Without closing our eyes to history, without denying any legacy of oppression or cooptation, and as citizens of the 21st century with so much at stake for a shared planet, it seems to me that this conversation may be one of the most important and difficult, yes, but necessary ones before us.”

—Caroline Sinavaiana, author of Alchemies of Distance; Side Effects, A Pilgrimage; and co-author of Mohawk/Samoa: Transmigrations

“The volume exemplifies ways in which ethnicity and ethnic identities are indeed fluid and historically contingent. Through this experiment, we see a poignant example of how the positionality of ethnic identities tends to shift quite quickly when one factors in the political, social and cultural circumstances in which such identities are formed and experienced in the contexts of power, discrimination, and belonging.”

—Elisa Joy White, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Hawai?i at M?noa, author of Modernity, Freedom and the African Diaspora: Dublin, New Orleans, Paris

“This anthology sets itself the ambitious task of convening a group of white (Euro-American) writers for the purposes of a poetic conversation, both with Euro-American and Hawaiian literary traditions and cultural histories. In convening this assortment of writers – which it hesitates to label a community – its project is not so much to map a genealogy of whiteness as to open out new perspectives on white writers who may find themselves inhabiting positions as both majority and minority practitioners, who may index white hegemony while simultaneously being marked by a lack of legitimacy. The writers represented in this book defy easy categorisation in spite of the apparent self-evidence of the subtitle.”

—Anne Brewster, Associate Professor, School of English, Media and Performing Arts at University of New South Wales

“While many of the writers are stylistically experimental, aiming to convey new experiences of being, the Introduction and Author Statements provide inviting roadmaps that actively include readers—a poignant reversal of the theme of racial and cultural exclusion often expressed here. Jack London is Dead is essential reading for anyone interested in discovering the best of contemporary writing. How we mythologize ourselves and others, the difficulties of expressing our identities in language, the relationship between humans and nature, the sense of being and not-being part of where we are, the complexities of aesthetic heritage—these are abiding themes of art addressed by the exhilaratingly varied writers in this anthology. This volume feels both rooted in a place and rooted in its creators. This collection will be a classic.”

—Lauri Ramey, author of Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry, Director of the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, California State University, Los Angeles


Listen to the contributors read selections from their works in these sound recordings at PennSound.

Listen to an audio interview with Susan M. Schultz, Jaimie Gusman, and Scott Abels with Hawai?i Public Radio.

Read reviews of Jack London is Dead at these sites: Hawai?i Book Blog, Flux Hawai?i, the Poetry Foundation, and Ron Silliman’s blog.