Author: Kai Gaspar | Paperback
A raw and lyrical poetic memoir, Ulu captures with haunting vivacity the world of Hōnaunau, Hawaiʻi in the 1970s and 80s: the humanity and hunger of its unforgettable villagers, who "seed and feed and breed in the dark," the sensual coming-of-age of the poet narrator, who, with his keen eye, and desire to protect and heal, "honors, recollects, and chronicles both the troubled and the healing moʻolelo of his ʻāina."
In Ulu, Kai weaves together themes of "broken family, queer exploration, and aching love of land and culture," creating a timeless work of art that has received praise from some of Hawaiʻi and Oceania's most beloved and well-respected poets and authors: Brandy Nālani McDougall, Hawaiʻi State Poet Laureate, has this to say of Ulu:
A deft imagist, Gaspar immerses you in the raw surreality of an 'āina that is at once ancestral and familiar, where the supernatural is natural and darkness provides safety...You will not find this Hōnaunau on a map, nor in a tourist brochure...Rather, you must allow yourself to be bitten and swallowed by Hōnaunau's dark and mythic depths, and keep your skull soft as a baby's so you may be fed and shaped by these poems.
Acclaimed author Albert Wendt described Ulu as "A magnificent addition to the body of poetry written by Kai's people."
Kai is a kānaka ʻōiwi māhū poet and teacher from Hōnaunau. Kai earned his PhD at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in 2021 and is the author of the forthcoming poetic memoir, Ulu. Kai's work has been previously published in Mauri Ola Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English / Whetu Moana II, Tinfish, Yellow Medicine Review, Hawai'i Review and elsewhere.