Hawaiian language poetry, writing competition launched



A new Hawaiian poetry and writing competition is now accepting entries. The first of its kind, “He Hookuku Mele a Moolelo” (Poetry and Short Story Competition), is open to people of all ages from around the world, and is aimed at increasing skill and proficiency in the Hawaiian language.

The only requirements to compete are an Internet connection to submit contest entries and the ability to compose or write in olelo Hawaii, the Hawaiian language.

“There are many places to learn Hawaiian now, but this kind of effort links up all the learners, and even the teachers, in a fun, “give it your very best” kind of competition. This contest will generate new poetry and short stories that the whole Hawaiian language community can enjoy.” says Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, a professor of Hawaiian language at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a multi-award-winning composer, and the executive director of Awaiaulu, Inc., the organization sponsoring the competition.

Hawaiian is considered an endangered language, with only perhaps 10,000 fluent speakers. Efforts to save the language and increase its number of speakers began with the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s, leading to widespread teaching and the establishment of Hawaiian immersion schools. Hawaiian is an official language of the State of Hawaii, the number of speakers is rising, and students can complete their entire educational career—from preschool through college—in olelo Hawaii.

Although work in the field of Hawaiian language often focuses on translating literature from the more than one hundred Hawaiian language newspapers of the 19th and 20th centuries, this competition is providing a venue for brand new works. “There is a long history of Hawaiian writers and composers – even all of the royals were skilled poets – so we want to encourage that tradition to continue on as a living legacy of Hawaii.”

Lyrics and poetry should be 20-100 lines long. Other written submissions (fiction or non-fiction), e.g. scripts/dialogue, short stories and essays, should be 1000-4000 words in length. Entrants will also have the opportunity to provide an optional performance video to accompany their submission.

Entries will be accepted from June 11 (Kamehameha Day) until July 31 (La Hoihoi Ea, the Hawaiian Kingdom Restoration Day), and winners will be announced on September 2 (Queen Liliuokalani’s birthday). All dates are Hawaii Standard Time.

Winners in each category, mele and moolelo, will receive their choice of $500 or a special collector’s edition box set of Ka Moolelo o Hiiakaikapoliopele and The Epic Tale of Hiiakaikapoliopele by Hooulumahiehie, translated by Dr. Nogelmeier and published by Awaiaulu.

Microsoft engineer Alex Windell, based in California, helped with the Office 365 Nonprofit platform used for the online submission, review and judging of contest entries.
For more information on the competition or to submit an entry, visit www.hawaiianliterature.com.

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