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No Choice but to Follow

No Choice but to FollowNo Choice but to Follow
Jean Yamasaki Toyama, Juliet S. Kono, Ann Inoshita, Christy Passion
ISBN: 9780910043823
152 pages

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Bamboo Ridge Issue #96 is a special collection of 48 renshi (linked) poems by Jean Yamasaki Toyama, Juliet S. Kono, Ann Inoshita, and Christy Passion. Originally published as weekly website postings to commemorate Bamboo Ridge’s 30th anniversary, the poets’ year-long journey resulted in NO CHOICE BUT TO FOLLOW, a combination book and CD.

Publication of this book was supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA), celebrating more than forty years of culture and the arts in Hawai‘i. The SFCA is funded by appropriations from the Hawai‘i State Legislature and by grants from the NEA. Funding was also provided by the University of Hawai‘i Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED) and the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, with addition support from the "We the People" initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
ANN INOSHITA was born and raised on O'ahu. She has published poems in Bamboo Ridge, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Hawai'i Review, and Tinfish. Her book of poems, Manoa Stream, was published by Kahuaomanoa Press in 2007. Her short play, Wea I Stay: A Play in Hawai'i, was included in The Statehood Project, performed by Kumu Kahua Theatre and published by Fat Ulu Productions. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and currently teaches at Kapi'olani Community College.


Most recently, JULIET S. KONO has been featured in Imagine What It's Like, an anthology which combines literature and medicine. Forthcoming is Anshuu: Dark Sorrow, a historical novel set in Hawai'i and Japan, which will be published in 2010. Born and raised in Hilo, Hawai'i, she lives in Honolulu with her husband and continues to teach at Leeward Community College. She received her Jodo Shinshu Tokudo (entrance into the priesthood) ordination in 2007 and works toward reflecting the Dharma reality in her daily life.


Born and raised on the island of O'ahu, CHRISTY PASSION has, in recent years, been drawn to both poetry and short story writing. Her work has been published in local venues such as Bamboo Ridge, Hawai'i Pacific Review, and the anthology Honolulu Stories. Her poetry has won both local and national awards, including the James Vaughn Award, The Atlanta Review International Merit Award, and the Academy of American Poetry Award. She works as a critical care nurse at the Queen's Medical Center. This is her first book.


JEAN YAMASAKI TOYAMA is a poet, scholar, translator, and writer of fiction. She is emerita professor of French at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, where she taught and was associate dean of the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature. She lives in Hawai'i where she was born and raised.
What did Bamboo Ridge?
Ninety-one issues,
Eight hundred-fifty plus writers and artists
of poems, stories, plays, and essays
with plenty, plenty of words, some pictures,
some photos
To launch careers
To help pass the time
To keep hope alive
— from "How Does Bamboo Ridge?" by Jean Yamasaki Toyama


Somehow everything
is bearable
one page at a time
— from "Embrace" by Ann Inoshita


They bring up matters
that send sentimental tears
down your cheeks;
feed into your old heartaches.
And oftentimes, in your recollections,
you pass them off
to your children
without ever meaning to be cruel.
— from "Buzzing Along with Us" by Juliet S. Kono


Let us remind you of when hope
was measured in pocket change
after a long day of body surfing—
just enough for shaved ice and the bus ride home.
—from "Prepare to Move into the White House" by Christy Passion
This collection of linked renshi poems has much heart, delicacy and interconnectedness on personal and social levels in Hawai'i and beyond, so it is a fitting 30th anniversary commemoration for the wonderful work of Bamboo Ridge. The poems were composed through 2008; one gets a sense of seasonal and social change as well as the whole quotidian gamut of life and, also, through the device of beginning the following poem with the last line of the previous one, a sense of multiple consciences and perspectives through these four gifted and vital poets. I wholeheartedly recommend this emotionally intelligent book that teaches us to be attentively human and to celebrate or heal memories great and intimate.
Robert Sullivan, author of Star Waka and Voice Carried My Family