so i was just in new york last week for the poets & writers california writers exchange award & i had a blast! i will be blogging about the trip at the PW website--so hopefully you can check that out when it's live.

i returned to cali for two days, dragged my travel weary butt back to the san francisco airport and survived a 11 hour flight to japan, a three hour layover, and then a 3.5 hour flight to my homeland, the pacific island of guahan (guam). my family migrated to california in 1995, when i was fifteen years old, and this is my first trip home since then.

so what am i doing here? read on to find out...

here's an article from the Pacific News Center that details the purpose of my visit:
As part of the Community Conversations on the Military Buildup Project the Guam Humanities Council is sponsoring a series of “community conversations” on the military buildup entitled:  “8,000 How Will It Change Our Lives?”

The “conversations” are part of the Councilʼs effort to encourage island residents to examine the impact of the relocation of military personnel and their families to Guam in 2014. The “humanities based conversations” will focus on the themes of service, leadership, community, identity and power.

The Council selected the “civic reflection” model to convene community conversations with diverse groups of residents in a variety of settings around the island. Civic reflection is an innovative approach that has been successfully implemented by humanities councils across the country to engage citizens in discussions of important issues that affect civic life.

In April of 2009, the Council trained 18 facilitators to use the model to conduct conversations in diverse settings throughout the community. A series of six 90-minute conversations will be held among a small group. Conversations begin with a focused discussion of a selected reading, poem, film or other text.

The trained facilitators guide the participants through a reflection process that encourages critical analysis, asking questions, and self-expression. Through civic reflection, individuals are invited to step into a hospitable space where they may critically think and talk about the values and choices we make while living together as a community.

As part of the project, the Council will host three larger community conversation events and special presentations. The first of these events will take place from March 22 through March 26, 2010, when the Council will bring to Guam poet Craig Santos Perez.

i arrived at 2am on monday. here's a picture of the airport:


then i arrived at the Outrigger hotel and dropped dead and woke up a few hours later and crawled to the breakfast room and saw this:


then i stumbled to the lobby and saw a display about outrigger canoes on guam. and i was surprised to see the same archival image that was used on the cover of my second book:


then i stumbled around tumon, the tourist district, to find a duty free galleria, massage parlors, 2 gun clubs, strip clubs, adult stores, karaoke clubs, and a tapioca drink cafe:


then i met up with some members of the humanities council for lunch at a chamorro restaurant called proa, where i ate a fried whole parrotfish with coconut milk & veges:


then myself & reps from the council were interviewed on a local radio station:


then i had dinner at the humanities council office, where i met many of the board members and the trained facilitators. it was a chamorro feast:


then i dropped dead again. in the morning, there were two sessions of the civic reflection model at the university of guam (UOG). the two sessions included about 50 students from various courses in the english, composition, and chamorro language departments. here is one session reading & discussing a selection of my poems from my second book:


how the model works is that i read my poems aloud to the students, then they break up into groups for discussion led by the humanities council's facilitators. then i return to the students and answer questions.

after the UOG sessions, i was interviewed by a TV news crew from the Pacific News Center. then, we drove about five minutes and did one session at guam community college (and, in typical guam style, i learned that the professor for that class is my auntie!). haha. after that session, i returned to UOG and visited the only creative writing class at the university...i read some poems from both my books and then led the class in a writing assignment and then the class shared their work:


then i went to another TV news station and briefly appeared on the station's 'extra' segment:


now i'm gonna drop dead. four time zones in three weeks. and i have to do another radio interview at 730 am...then it's off to two high schools, an afterschool program, and then a large community event in the evening. wish me luck and i'll report back at the end of the week! xoxo.

Originally Published: March 23rd, 2010

Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan/Guam. He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent (Hawai’i Dub Machine, 2011), and author of three collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008), from unincorporated territory [saina](Omnidawn, 2010),...

  1. March 23, 2010
     Sina Queyras

    Wow, take it easy, Craig. That's a lot of touring.

  2. March 23, 2010
     Frieda Maraya

    Thanks for a fantastic experience Craig. Really enjoyed the workshop. Great to see you again!

  3. March 23, 2010

    Wow, Craig. I hope you are taking your Vitamin C! Hopefully, the continued feasting will keep you strong.

  4. March 23, 2010
     Julian Baker

    Great post, lovely to read such vibrant writing in the blogsphere - I did the poets & writers california writers exchange as well, and it was thrilling. Many happy returns on your tour! Best, julian