State of Hawai’i has a new poet laureate, succeeding Kealoha
Brandy Nālani McDougall has been selected as the second Hawaiʻi State Poet Laureate, succeeding Kealoha, who served from 2012-2022.
McDougall’s selection was part of the new collaborative initiative between the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System.
She will serve as the Hawaiʻi State Poet Laureate from 2023-2025. Her inaugural event will be Jan. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum as part of the monthly live music night, The Vibe.
McDougall was born and raised on Maui in the ahupuaʻa of Aʻapueo in Kula, and is a teacher and mother. She authored the poetry collection, The Salt-Wind, Ka Makani Paʻakai (2008). She is also a teacher and mother. Her second poetry collection, ʻĀina Hānau, Birth Land, is inspired by her daughters and is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press in Summer 2023.
As part of her term as Hawaiʻi State Poet Laureate, McDougall wants to highlight the ways poetry can heal and bring connection.
“Poetry really gave me a place and a way to heal, and right now, as we’re all emerging from a space where we’ve been literally isolated for two years—where we weren’t able to meet as much with other people and have genuine human to human connections, or even human to ‘āina connections, so there’s a real need for that healing in this space and time,” she said. “I think poetry can be that space for a lot of people. As the Hawaiʻi Poet Laureate, I’d like to be able to share that.”
Noʻu Revilla, 2021 National Poetry Series winner, said: “Brandy has contributed so much to our literature in Hawaiʻi. I have been reading Brandy’s poetry with gratitude for years and am excited to see the paths she builds alongside other writers in Hawaiʻi as poet laureate. Brandy believes in the power of moʻolelo. Hers is an unshakeable and luminous faith. I know she will serve this kuleana with tremendous focus and aloha.”
McDougall will be planning to offer poetry readings and workshops at schools (including Hawaiian-language schools and special education programs), public libraries and organizations that support transition out of incarceration, and other community spaces throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
To find out more about Brandy Nālani McDougall and the Hawaiʻi State Poet Laureate program, visit HIHumanities.org/hawaiʻi-state-poet-laureate.
An interview with Brandy is also available on the HIHumanities YouTube channel: youtu.be/0dgPc6s3faQ.