In an all-too-brief life and literary career, Wayne Kaumualii Westlake (1947–1984) produced a substantial body of poetry. He broke new ground as a poet, translated Taoist classical literature and Japanese haiku, interwove perspectives from his Hawaiian heritage into his writing and art, and published his work locally, regionally, and internationally.
Westlake was born on Maui and raised on the island of O‘ahu, where he attended Punahou School, and later the University of Oregon. He earned his B.A. in Chinese studies at the University of Hawai‘i. At the time of his tragic death in 1984, Westlake was at the height of his poetic career. Unfortunately, the only collection of his poems available at the time was a 32-page, limited edition chapbook independently published by a small press. The present volume, long overdue, includes nearly two hundred of Westlake’s poems—most unavailable to the public or never before published.
Talanoa: Contemporary Pacific Literature
"Westlake’s verse provides a remarkably intimate and complex self-portrait of man and poet. And though he died in 1984 at age 36, his pungent catalogue of multifaceted, everyday life experiences remain relevant today. Whether mischievous or thoughtful, his poems consciously wander landscapes of time and space, shine with form and rhythm, exploding from tradition—rewarding reflections that nearly convince Hawai‘i should only be written about this way." —Honolulu Advertiser
(20 December 2009)
"The poems run the whole gamut of emotions . . . and do so with immaculate and measured control of language and imagery . . . [T]his one collection, in my reckoning, establishes Westlake as one of Hawai‘i and the Pacific’s major poets." —Albert Wendt
"Finally, Westlake in his defiant originality: metaphorical, magnetic, and magical." —Haunani-Kay Trask
"Westlake is necessary reading for anyone interested in the distinctive contribution of a major Kanaka Maoli poet to world literature. Westlake is that purest of poets, one for whom ‘everything is poetry.’" —Paul Lyons
"Westlake’s work is an intricate, thoughtful, and multilayered tapestry of images and emotions that resonate for readers today." —Kuualoha Hoomanawanui
Author: Westlake, Wayne Kaumualii; Editor: Siy, Mei-Li M.; Hamasaki, Richard;