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ISBN: 978-1-943756-01-8
180 pages


Edited by Cathy Song and Donald Carreira Ching, BAMBOO RIDGE Issue #115 is a memorable anthology of poetry and prose by thirty-three authors from diverse backgrounds. With a third of the writers new to the pages of BAMBOO RIDGE, the issue showcases both emerging writers and the work of established authors such as Sue Cowing, Cate Gable, Jim Harstad, Lanning C. Lee, Darrell H. Y. Lum, Wing Tek Lum, Christy Passion, Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo, Eric Paul Shaffer, John E. Simonds, Jean Yamasaki Toyama, and Mahealani Wendt. Cover art and an artist profile and portfolio feature Kai‘ili Kaulukukui, whose paintings and murals promote Hawaiian values of land, ocean, and cultural preservation.

Cathy Song is the award-winning author of five poetry collections and co-editor of SISTER STEW: FICTION AND POETRY BY WOMEN and YOBO: KOREAN AMERICAN WRITING IN HAWAI‘I..

Donald Carreira Ching, who teaches at Leeward Community College, is the author of BETWEEN SKY AND SEA: A FAMILY'S STRUGGLE and co-editor of BAMBOO RIDGE Issue #110.
Asia Au-Helfrich was born and raised in Hilo. She received a BA in English from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in 2019. Asia has a passion for local literature, citing authors such as Juliet S. Kono, Lois- Ann Yamanaka, and Mark Panek as main sources of inspiration for her writing. She hopes to leave a lasting impression on local readers and inspire others to write about their experience of home.

Sara Backer recently earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has published two poetry chapbooks: Scavenger Hunt (dancing girl press, 2018) and Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork, 2015), which won the Turtle Island Poetry Award. Her poems have most recently appeared in Amaryllis, Unbroken, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Nonbinary Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Qu, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Her website is

Originally from Tennessee, Emily A. Benton is a poet, writer, and editor who has lived in Hawai‘i since 2012. A graduate of the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, her poetry appears in journals such as Hawai‘i Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Poetry Review, and ZYZZYVA. She also co- organizes MIA Honolulu, a monthly reading series for Hawai‘i writers.

Boey Kim Cheng has published five collections of poetry, a travel memoir entitled Between Stations, and Gull Between Heaven and Earth, a historical novel based on the Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu. He is an Asian Australian teaching at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Jodie Chiemi Ching is a staff writer for The Hawai‘i Herald, A Japanese American Journal. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Japanese, a Graduate Certificate in Accounting and received the Okinawa Prefectural Government Scholarship for Okinawan Descendants. After working in accounting for 15 years she decided to follow her joy and write full-time. Jodie is an Okinawan performing artist and poet. She writes under the name Chiemi Souen, “Chiemi” is her given name meaning “wisdom and beauty” and “Souen” is the name of her poet ancestor that lived 15 generations before her.

Sue Cowing was born in Illinois but got to Hawai‘i as soon as she could, fell in love with the many ways of life and the natural world here, and stayed. She lives in Honolulu where she writes poetry and fiction and survives floods.

Cate Gable has a poetry MFA from Pacific Lutheran University; an MA from the University of Washington; and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. She has an award-winning
chapbook, Heart (Center for Creative Work, San Francisco) and most recently authored a book of poetry and commentary on Stein/Toklas, entitled Chere Alice: Three Lives (Publications Studio, Portland, Oregon). Her poem “Kilauea” was selected for Hawai‘i Public Radio’s Aloha Shorts. Gable writes a weekly column for The Chinook Observer and was awarded first place for environmental reporting from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. She lives in Nahcotta, Washington.

Claire Gearen is a lineal descendant of the Irish poet Máire Bhuí Ní Laoire and now a second generation Bamboo Ridge author. She enjoys teaching Hawai‘i and Pacific authors in Hawai‘i Public Schools.

Julia Haney is a poet and recent Harvard graduate, where she wrote a poetry thesis supervised by Jorie Graham. Her most recent illustrated collection, “A Lemon Invitation,” is currently available for purchase at She is an editor at Thalia Magazine, a new community and magazine dedicated to celebrating creatives who identify with womanhood.

Jim Harstad: We are known by the company we keep. Thanks, BR. Your acceptance means a lot to me.

Florence Homolka’s writings have appeared in Fiction International, the New York Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, Epiphany, and others. She is an editor at Lalitamba and also teaches in the English Department at the City University of New York.

Scott Kikkawa grew up in a Hawai‘i Kai where every avocado-green freezer had Meadow Gold popsicles in them. He currently lives with his family in a Hawai‘i Kai where every stainless-steel freezer has giant bags of something dead and chopped up from Costco in them. A federal law enforcement officer by day, he writes detective noir fiction set in postwar Honolulu featuring cops who chew toothpicks and drink on the job. His debut novel, Kona Winds, is due to be released shortly as Bamboo Ridge Issue 116.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Lanning C. Lee grew up a little bit local, a little bit country, and a little bit rock ’n’ roll. Post-retirement, after publishing his yet-to-be highly acclaimed 866 love “haiku” collection, followed by his equally overlooked 155 Shakespearean- style love sonnet collection, he’s returned from a brief stint in the Federal Witness Protection Program and is hacking knee-deep through his latest writing project, a tome entitled The Key to All Mythologies. Good luck with that, Lanning. We hope it sells a whole lot better than all the haiku and sonnet stuff have on Amazon. Maybe if you greased Jeff Bezos’s palm?

S. Lucas was raised in Kapolei and ?Ewa Beach, and currently resides in Makakilo. Her writing is inspired by the local experiences of the west side of O?ahu. Her first piece, “Blazing Youth,” functions as commentary on discrimination against Hawaiian adolescences. She works as a Writing Consultant at Leeward Community College and is pursuing a degree in Natural Sciences.

Darrell H. Y. Lum: The Bamboo Shoots monthly contest (find it under “Interactive” on inspires lazy writers like me to get something written. The mysterious Bamboo Buckeroo posts multiple writing prompts every month and invites submissions. The challenge was to create an entry that was exactly 100 words referencing the prompts, in this case “Candy” and “Thanksgiving.” Good fun. Try write!

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).

Marion Lyman-Mersereau was born and raised in Honolulu. She has long admired Bamboo Ridge Press publications and has read countless BR pieces aloud to audiences for many years. She is thrilled to be among these writers. She co-authored, with John Heidel, four volumes entitled Character Education, published by Incentive Publications. Her book, Eddie Wen’ Go: The Story of the Upside Down Canoe (Watermark Publishing, 2014), was inspired by her experience as a crew member when Hokule‘a capsized in 1978. She adapted this story to a play of the same title that was produced by Hawaii Theatre Center in 2014.

M.G. Martin is the author of One For None (Ink, 2010). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Powderkeg, Juked, ZYZZYVA, Sink Review, PANK, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, and from Greying Ghost Press. A 2018 W.S. Merwin Creative Teaching Fellow, he teaches middle school English and lives on Maui with the poet Tess Patalano and the dog, Ihu. Find him online at and @m.g.martin.

Peter Keikiokalani Moala was born in Hilo, Hawai‘i. When he was five years old his family moved to Japan and he spent most of his childhood living in Yokohama and Chiba. After returning to Hawai‘i, he graduated from Roosevelt High School and attended Kapi‘olani Community College. He later moved to Auckland, New Zealand, where he worked as an editor of three weekly newspapers. Peter’s desire to travel eventually took him to Anchorage, Alaska, where he worked as an MMA writer and attended the University of Alaska. He recently returned home to Honolulu where he works at the Hawai‘i State Legislature.

Derek N. Otsuji lives and writes on the southern shore of O‘ahu. His poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Salamander, Sycamore Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and The Threepenny Review.

Harry Palmer lived in New York, Wisconsin, and California before coming to Hawai‘i in 1989. He married into a Chinese-Hawaiian family and immersed himself in local and Hawaiian culture. Poetry provides a welcome counterbalance to his career in Medical Physics. Meditation, fitness, being outdoors in nature, and family nourish his writing. His poems have appeared in Rainbird and the Manhattan College Quarterly. He has attended writing sessions and workshops locally and on the continent. He especially appreciates the generosity of Lillian Cunningham, Joseph Stanton, and Philip Damon in their sessions.
Faith Angelica Pascua is currently studying at UH West O‘ahu for a BA in Political Science and works in all capacities with all children. Dreams/fights for an equal and just world where kids can learn and express themselves. Writes to remember the truth and the beauty of all things.

Christy Passion is a critical care nurse and award-winning poet, author of Still Out of Place, and co-author of No Choice but to Follow and What We Must Remember.

Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo, author of the poetry collection Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us, comes from a family of farmers, teachers, and religious leaders in La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan, the Philippines. He graduated from Banguet State University with a degree in Agriculture and went to work in the Middle East as a Greenhouse Agriculturist. His book includes poems about his experiences as a migrant worker there, especially the abusive and cruel conditions he and his co-workers encountered. Pizo was a Poetry Fellow at the 2000 Silliman National Writers Workshop in the Philippines and Poetry Fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in February 2006. A resident of ‘Ewa Beach in Hawai‘i, he is now retired but continues to write.

Nora Pollard is a 24 yr alive queer trans woman living in the pacific ocean on the american colonized islands of Hawai‘i. She loves her dog, and her friends, and everything else too. Her poems have appeared in Water Soup #6 and She tweets @tenderpunk_.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry: Even Further West; A Million-Dollar Bill; Lahaina Noon; Portable Planet; Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen; RattleSnake Rider; and Kindling: Poems from Two Poets. More than 500 of his poems have been published in national and international reviews in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, and the United Kingdom. Shaffer received Hawai‘i’s 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Book Award, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry. Shaffer teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

John E. Simonds, 83, a retired Honolulu daily newspaper editor, has lived with his family on O‘ahu for more than 40 years and previously was a reporter for newspapers from Washington, D.C., and other cities. A Bowdoin College graduate and former East Coast and Midwest resident, he has been writing verse since the 1970s and is the author of Waves from a Time-Zoned Brain (AuthorHouse, 2009) and Footnotes to the Sun (iUniverse, 2015).

Susan M. Soong’s poem is dedicated to the memory of Richard Gerage, a former intermediate school art teacher, whose illustrations are featured in the book Once Upon A Line. She received the 2008 James A. Vaughan Award for Poetry and First Place for Fiction and First Place for Poetry in the Lorrin Tarr Gill Writing Competitionin 2012. Her work has been published in Hawai‘i Pacific Review and Bamboo Ridge.

Chiemi Souen (see Jodie Chiemi Ching)

Susan Lee St. John teaches at Windward Community College in Kane‘ohe, O‘ahu. Her work has appeared in anthologies published by Calyx Books, Mutual Publishing, and Bamboo Ridge Press. Her short plays have been produced by Honolulu Theatre for Youth and, in 2012, she received the James A. Vaughn Award for Poetry. She resides in her hometown of Kailua with her husband Robert. They are the parents of three grown children.

A native of Hawai‘i, Jean Yamasaki Toyama is a Beckett scholar (Beckett’s Game) and professor emerita of French at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. Her poems appear in Kelli’s Hanauma Friends, Prepositions, and issues of Bamboo Ridge. Her collection of short stories, The Piano Tuner’s Wife, offers glimpses of life in Hawai‘i. She is one of the renshi poets who co-authored No Choice but to Follow and What We Must Remember and the 2019 recipient of the Elliot Cades Award for Emerging Writer.

A.B. Ulep grew up in Waipahu, Hawai‘i, and continues to live and write on O‘ahu. His work can be found in TAYO Literary Mag, Rambutan Literary, Stone Pacific Review, and others.

Mahealani Perez Wendt is a Native Hawaiian poet. Her poetry and short stories are published in several literary anthologies, including UCLA Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance; Manoa; Literary Arts Hawai‘i; Bamboo Ridge; ‘Oiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal; Kaimana; Hawai‘i Review; O‘ahu Review; Many Mountains Moving; and Aotearoa-based Whetu Moana. Her book of poetry, Uluhaimalama, was published by Kuleana ‘Oiwi Press in 2007. Her poems also appear in the anthology Ho‘olaule‘a: Celebrating 10 Years of Pacific Writing, which she co-edited with the late Brian Doyle of Portland University.

Tamara Laulani Wong-Morrison says mahalo piha to Cathy Song and Doug Davenport for their friendship and joy. She acknowledges those who helped her along the poet-path: Eric Chock, Jody Manabe Kobayashi, Boone Morrison, her ‘ohana on Kaua‘i, and James Akau for sharing his wahi pana. Tamara is descended from the Kaleimakalii line from Moloa‘a, Kapules from Waiohinu, Wongs from south China, and Mundons from Scotland.

With the publication of Issue #115, Bamboo Ridge remains committed to presenting a diversity of voices and experiences that is our common humanity. During its forty-one years of publishing literature in Hawai‘i, Bamboo Ridge Press has recognized that, at the core of what makes Hawai‘i—the most geographically isolated islands in the world and amongst the bluest states in the nation— unique is a culture of acceptance and inclusion. In many ways, the writers gathered in these pages are the results of our efforts to reflect that.

With work coming from ‘Ewa Beach to Singapore, you will read authors from across the state, the nation, and the world whose writing engages with themes and subjects that intersect across these pages and in our everyday lives here in Hawai‘i. In addition to established talent and names you may recognize, you will find that nearly half of the work published comes from emerging talent and authors who have never been published in Bamboo Ridge before. You will also find a number of selections from Bamboo Shoots, a monthly writing contest that has become an online community for writers of all backgrounds to interact and post their works.

We are also pleased to feature the art of painter-muralist-artist Kai‘ili Kaulukukui, whose work tackles the personal and social with an emphasis on marine life and native culture. Overall, we hope that this issue continues the mission of Bamboo Ridge Press to publish and promote local authors, local writing, the arts in Hawai‘i, and work by and about Hawai‘i’s people.

Cathy Song
Donald Carreira Ching
Guest Editors, Bamboo Ridge Issue #115