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The Best of Aloha Shorts

The Best of Aloha ShortsThe Best of Aloha Shorts

ISBN: 978-0-910043-98-4
200 pages


Co-produced by Bamboo Ridge Press and Hawai‘i Public Radio, Aloha Shorts brought some of Hawai‘i’s finest writers, actors, and musicians together each week for a half-hour radio program celebrating local literature. The Best of Aloha Shorts contains poems and stories drawn from the pages of Bamboo Ridge that are not only excellent in themselves but also outstanding in performance.

In addition to over thirty selections that provide a generous sample of the best of Hawai‘i literature, this collection features a history and behind-the-scenes account of Aloha Shorts, and personal essays by some of the writers, actors, musicians, sponsors, and the host. An online link,, also provides readers with recordings of every piece’s broadcast performance.

The result is an introduction to life in the islands past and present, an anthology of some of the finest writing that Bamboo Ridge has published, a valuable resource for teachers who want their students to read and hear fine writing, and a souvenir of the much loved show that each week shared the spirit of Hawai‘i.

Sammie Choy is a Honolulu director, producer, and teacher. She received an MFA in Directing and a PhD in Theatre from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa and currently teaches theatre and acting at Kapi`olani Community College. Before returning to Hawai`i, she was a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past nine years, she has directed and produced living history productions on O`ahu and Maui for the Hawai`i Pono`i Coalition. She is a past member of Kumu Kahua Theatre’s board of directors and is active in fiber arts as a craftsperson and artist.

Craig Howes is a Professor of English, a co-editor of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, and the Director of the Center for Biographical Research at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. With Jon Osorio, he co-edited The Value of Hawai`i: Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future (UH Press 2010). The series scholar and a co-producer for the Biography Hawai`i television documentary series, regularly screened on PBS Hawaii, he has served on the boards of Kumu Kahua Theatre and the Hawaiian Historical Society. He has appeared in many plays, including regularly in the Hawai`i Pono`i Coalition Mai Poina Living History productions.

Phyllis S.K. Look has had a 20-year career in the theatre as an actor, director, teacher, and producer. She received an MFA in directing from Yale School of Drama, a National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Directing Fellowship, and a Po`okela Award. She was a member of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s artistic staff and founded the Theatre’s award-winning Education and Outreach Program. Her directing credits include productions at Berkeley Rep, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Institute, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Young Playwrights, and Sundance Children’s Theatre, among others. She is currently the Director of Marketing at Hawai`i Public Radio.


Mary Beth Sua Aldosa (1965 – 2007) is remembered for her melodious voice and her heart of gold! Her love of children led to a career in teaching; however, her passion was always music. She sang on two Brown Bags to Stardom albums and started the first children’s choir at Saint Joseph’s School in Waipahu. Her singing was always an expression of pure goodness and her loving, kind spirit. Her gifts—teacher, singer, amazing writer of poetry and short stories, loving daughter, sister, aunty, and friend—are treasured by all who were blessed to know her. But what she treasured most were her children: Kipeni, Kalani, Lolena, and Libby, and her husband Leonard.

Kimo Armitage has authored 24 books, mostly for children, in Hawaiian and in English. His recent novel, The Healers, was published by the University of Hawai‘i Press. In 2016, he won the prestigious Maureen Egan Writers Exchange Award for Poetry, which is administered by Poets & Writers of New York City. In 2017, he won the Wax Poetry Art Socially Engaged Poets Award in Canada and published poems?in Fishfood, Eunoia Magazine, Cold Noon Journal, Cape Rock Literary Magazine, Bayou Magazine, Barking Sycamores, and Adelaide Literary Journal.

Keola Beamer is a singer-songwriter and guitar master, one of the first to use Hawaiian slack key techniques in compositions that are at home on jazz or classical stages. He led the wave of contemporary Hawaiian music in the 1970s when he wrote “Honolulu City Lights” and authored the first slack key guitar instruction book. Keola has received the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award, multiple Grammy Award nominations, and multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. He is a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow, Artistic Director of the Mohala Hou Foundation, and President/Executive Director of Aloha Kuamo‘o ‘Aina, a nonprofit formed for the protection and preservation of the Kuamo‘o Battlefield and Burial Grounds in Kona, Hawai‘i.

Puanani Burgess is a designer and facilitator for Building the Beloved Community, a community building and conflict transformation process that brings people face-to-face for ceremony, storytelling, and circles of trust and respect. A published poet, mother, aunty, and friend to many, she is also one of the founders of several non-profit organizations, including the Wai‘anae Coast Community Mental Health Center, Ka‘ala Farm, Inc., Hoa ‘Aina O Makaha, and the Pu‘a Foundation. She has served as the Myles and Zilphia Horton Chair for the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee and as a community scholar in residence at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawai‘i. She is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest in the International Daihonzan Chozen-ji.

Lee Cataluna is a Hawai‘i-based writer. She is the metro columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and an award-winning playwright with more than a dozen production credits. Her collection Folks You Meet in Longs and her novel Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa both received awards for Excellence in Literature from the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association. In 2004 she received the Cades Award for Literature for her body of work. She served as Keables Chair in creative writing at ‘Iolani School.

Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009); Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005); Queen for?a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001); The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999); and Kinky (Orhisis, 1997). Duhamel is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

Derek Ferrar was born in New York City, lived as a monk in India, and found home in Hawai‘i in the 1980s. He’s worked as a writer, editor, and communicator for Honolulu Weekly, Hana Hou! Magazine, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the East-West Center, among others. As a musical hobbyist, the highlight of his quasi-career so far was performing regularly for Hawai‘i Public Radio listeners as a front man and multi-instrumentalist for the quirky Aloha Shorts house band, Hamajang, along with co-conspirators Charley Myers, Mark Scrufari, and Yash Wichmann-Walczak. Visit them at

Jozuf “bradajo” Hadley: Born and raised in the early thirties on Kaua‘i, it?was on the playground at elementary school where my multi-ethnic classmates and?I communicated in the grassroots Hawai‘i folk talk called Pidgin. In the summer?of 1969, while earning a master’s degree in sculpture at UHM, three friends and I climbed down into Waimea Canyon, where I experienced an epiphany. Very shortly after this, a phonetic cursive flowed through me that represents a written form of this spoken-only language of Pidgin. My first book of this calligraphy, accompanied by my recorded narration, appeared in 1972 and was entitled Chaloookyu eensai (Try Look You Inside).

Mavis Hara: Thank you to the editors of The Best of Aloha Shorts for reaching a new audience for local literature.

Gail N. Harada is the author of Beyond Green Tea and Grapefruit, a collection of poems and stories (Bamboo Ridge Press, 2013). When she wrote “Waiting for Henry” she was very allergic to cats, but her allergy miraculously disappeared when she adopted a stray kitten a few years later.

Darlene M. Javar lives in the beautiful country of Ka‘u on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. She has been published in Bamboo Ridge, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, Chaminade Literary Review, Tinfish, Kaimana, Storyboard 8, Into the Teeth of the Wind, The Distillery, Earth’s Daughters, and The East Hawaii Observer.

Lisa Linn Kanae is the author of the short story collection Islands Linked By Ocean (Bamboo Ridge Press) and Sista Tongue (Tinfish Press), a memoir/essay which weaves the social history of Hawai‘i Creole English with personal experience. She is a recipient of the 2009 Elliot Cades Award for Literature and teaches at Kapi‘olani Community College.

Nora Okja Keller is the author of Comfort Woman and Fox Girl.

Born and raised in Wahiawa, Stephanie Keiko Kong travels the world as a yoga teacher, blogger, and performer. Stephanie is known for her compelling voice, which Hana Hou! Magazine calls “pitch-perfect pidgin,” as she has brought to life the characters of many favorite local writers, including Lee Cataluna, Lisa Linn Kanae, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, and Haili‘opua Baker. She also meditates daily, does CrossFit, and would love to meet your mom.

Juliet S. Kono is the author of several books: Hilo Rains, Tsunami Years, Ho‘olulu Park and the Pepsodent Smile, The Bravest Opihi, and Anshuu, a novel. She co-authored two collections of linked poetry, No Choice but to Follow and What We Must Remember. She has appeared in many anthologies and collections and is the recipient of several awards. She is retired and lives with her husband in Honolulu.

Lanning C. Lee was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Except for some school in Madison, Wisconsin, he has lived in Honolulu all his life. He recently retired and has been spending much of the time traveling the world. There are no cockroaches in his home anymore. Combat® does a very good job.

Tracee H. Lee is a writer from Hawai‘i residing in Seattle, Washington. She is currently working on stories about the lives of her grandparents.

Darrell H.Y. Lum, along with co-founder and co-editor Eric Chock, served for 37 years during the horse and buggy days of literary publishing before handing the reins over to new editors in 2015. They brought modern technology to Bamboo Ridge: radio! How great is that!

Wing Tek Lum is a Honolulu businessman and poet. Bamboo Ridge Press has published his two collections of poetry, Expounding the Doubtful Points (1987) and The Nanjing Massacre: Poems (2012).

Mark Lutwak used to play keyboards for Kupa‘aina. He still plays the accordion and lives with the playwright Y York in Seattle.

Michael McPherson (1947-2008) was born in Hilo, obtained his B.A. (1974) and his M.A. (1976) from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. He edited and published the literary journal HAPA on Maui (1980–83), was Hawaii Review’s first fiction editor (1972), and founded Xenophobia Press in Wailuku (1980). He authored a poetry collection, Singing with the Owls (Petronium Press, 1982); a novel, Rivers of the Sun (South Point Press, 2000); and All Those Summers: Memories of Surfing’s Golden Age (Watermark Publishing, 2004). His poetry, short fiction, essays, and reviews appeared regularly in Hawai‘i literary journals and anthologies. He was also a published legal scholar and practicing attorney in Hawai‘i from 1991 to 2008.

Since the publication of his novel ‘Ewa Which Way, Tyler Miranda has spent the last four years developing new English tropes, such as understated hyperbole, triple entendre, and straight-up irony. His latest project is the wordless haiku. Here’s his favorite:

Devon Nekoba first “caught the bug” in high school from renowned theatre director Ron Bright and continued performing while at Gonzaga University. Upon returning home, he became involved with Kumu Kahua Theatre, performing at the University of Hawai‘i and in numerous productions of Lisa Matsumoto’s pidgin fairy tale trilogy, as well as in her traveling educational shows and later works. He has done commercials, been cast in Hawaii Five-O, The Inhumans, and local movie projects, most recently Go for Broke. He is currently the morning show host for 94.7 KUMU radio. He considers himself supremely blessed to have been a part of an amazing show like Aloha Shorts and thanks his wife and two wonderful children who allow him opportunities to “go and play.”

Paris Priore-Kim began to tell stories when she was a high school student at Punahou School. She was mentored by a number of amazing storytellers throughout her life, beginning with her father. Another of those mentors, Phyllis Look, caught up with her much later in life and invited her into the Aloha Shorts ‘ohana. For the last two decades, Paris has been an educator at Punahou School, where she revels in the stories all around her.

N. Keonaona (Aea) Russell: Thank you for including “Bearing the Light” in this collection. Because writing is about truth, discovery, and surprise, it remains my net that captures life’s awesome details.

Aito Simpson Steele was born and raised on the island of O‘ahu. He has lived in Town for 90% of his life—Makiki, Nu‘uanu, Pu‘unui, Kaimuki, and depending?on how you look at it, ‘Aiea. He is in no particular order a father, husband, son and performer, appearing sporadically on stage at Kumu Kahua Theatre and Honolulu Theatre for Youth, among others. He is currently most recognizable as a guy who changes light bulbs, trims hedges, hangs out at a fire pit, and tells stories.

Marjorie Putnam Sinclair Edel (1913-2005) was a poet, novelist, biographer, and teacher who made lasting contributions to Hawai‘i’s literary communities. She arrived in Honolulu on the University of Hawai‘i’s first graduate exchange student program in 1935. She was the author of two novels, Kona (1947), and The Wild Wind (1950); a biography, Nahi‘ena‘ena: Sacred Daughter of Hawai‘i (1976); and numerous poems and short stories reflecting the native Hawaiian experience in the early 20th century. In addition to teaching in the UHM English Department, she worked closely with the Hawai‘i Literary Arts Council for over 25 years. Marjorie Edel received the Hawai‘i Writer’s Award in 1981.

Cedric Yamanaka is the author of In Good Company, a collection of short stories. He is a recipient of the Helen Deutsch Fellowship for Creative Writing from Boston University, the Ernest Hemingway Memorial Award for Creative Writing from the University of Hawai‘i, and the Cades Award for Literature. He is currently working on a novel.

Lois-Ann Yamanaka is the Director of Na‘au Learning Center. She is currently working on her next book, Up the Rabbit Hole.

Michael Titterton
Hawai‘i Public Radio*

Books have been having a tough time of it lately, as flashier and “handier” conduits for the written word have been developed. Radio, as a unique conveyer of the spoken word, has been slugging out this battle for much longer. Every new tech wave, from television to podcast, has required radio to look to its roots, remember what it does uniquely well, and then learn to do it better.

And it turns out that one of the services that radio can provide better than any other medium is one of the very oldest—perhaps the most ancient of all, so old it’s part of our DNA. It can draw its community around the campfire, and against the silence and the warming glow, enable it to tell its stories.

Hawai‘i Public Radio (HPR) takes this responsibility seriously. One of the most original and successful examples of HPR’s commitment to this idea has been Aloha Shorts, a collaboration between Bamboo Ridge Press and HPR, masterminded by co-producers Phyllis S.K. Look, Sammie Choy, and Craig Howes. The basic idea was simple enough: local stories written by local authors, read by local actors (sometimes the authors themselves) before a local audience, and then broadcast over our local public radio network. Add Phyllis’s and Sammie’s stagecraft, a house band, a charismatic emcee, and the irresistible lure of free admission and cookies, and . . . well, for the first couple of months it was hard to get anyone to take any notice.

BUT (and this is where public radio always scores) everyone persevered, none more resolutely nor determinedly than the producers. Before very long the seats were filling up and the broadcast audience was growing—the experience of bearing witness to Hawai‘i telling its own stories to its own people proved irresistible, and the show began developing cult status. Would-be audience members spilled out onto Kaheka Street, inconveniencing traffic. The 30-minute weekly radio program, engineered by Jason Taglianetti, became destination listening for anyone interested in Hawai‘i stories and literature. Over four years it became a major jewel in HPR’s local-programming crown.

I’ll always be grateful to Phyllis, Sammie, Craig, and Bamboo Ridge for doing so much to help HPR live up to its full potential, during these transient and tweetful times, as a keeper of our community’s cultural flame. This fine collection, drawn from the series, is a fitting tribute.

* Michael Titterton was the President and General Manager of Hawai‘i Public Radio during the years when Aloha Shorts was on the air.
You know you have hit upon the right text for class when your students bypass the planned lesson for the day to return to Aloha Shorts, mobbing the Bamboo Ridge Press website to hear more. The Best of Aloha Shorts collects together authors, actors, and musicians that students and other Bamboo Ridge fans may now enjoy on their earbuds and read all in one place. I love this resource! Plus, producer, performer, and author commentary offers a window into production of this expertly curated radio program. Students, take note. Aloha Shorts, long may you run. Long may you run.

Claire Gearen
Hawai‘i Public Schools

* * *

The 30-minute weekly radio program Aloha Shorts became destination listening for anyone interested in Hawai‘i stories and literature. Over four years it became a major jewel in HPR’s local-programming crown.

Michael Titterton
Former President & General Manager
Hawai‘i Public Radio

* * *

These are amazing, amusing, and compelling stories, a great avenue to the public humanities and the life of the mind they represent. The diverse topics and writings, performed thematically for Aloha Shorts, connect us to ideas about family and community, engage us in daily dilemmas and challenges, and make us richer human beings by their knowing telling. They become “human-ties”—holding us in their wisdom, civic virtues, and civility, and wearing those cool aloha shorts. The Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities is proud to have supported this storytelling experience. I’m so glad that through this book the stories can continue to support us all.

Bob Buss
Executive Director
Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities

* * *

Having spent the better part of seven years working on Aloha Shorts, I am grateful that the show will be remembered this way. And grateful that there is something like Bamboo Ridge to help writers get their stories out in the first place. In the grand scheme, the book really is a tribute to the work BRP has been doing over the last 40 years. And I’m hoping BRP will be around a long, long time because there are a lot more stories to tell.

Jason Taglianetti
Multimedia Production Manager
Hawaii Public Radio