- Web extras: cover slideshow and interview with Mānoa editor Frank Stewart
In 1987 University of Hawaiʻi President Albert Simone issued a call for new journals that could be produced by the university.
Frank Stewart and Robert Shapard, members of UH Mānoa’s English department faculty, proposed a literary journal that would foster a shared community among people of Asia, the Pacific and the Americas. Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing was born.
Twenty years later, the journal is produced by a small but dedicated staff that includes UH graduates Stewart (editor), Pat Matsueda (managing editor) and Sonia Mun Cabrera (editorial assistant). It is published twice a year by University of Hawaiʻi Press.
Though small by commercial standards, Mānoa has raised more than a million dollars in grants, including awards from the Ford and Samsung Foundations, Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Fund, National Endowment for the Arts and Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
Pulitzer Prize poet W. S. Merwin calls Mānoa a “publication that manages to be rooted in a real locality without being provincial, to present work of distinction without being predictable and to maintain vitality and surprise without being trendy.” Kyoto Journal wrote: “It’s impossible to do justice here to the variety of literature and ideas.”
Since the first issue featured new fiction from China along with American fiction and poetry in 1989, Mānoa has offered contemporary art and literature written or translated into English.
The 20th anniversary issue tackles the theme Enduring War: Stories of What We’ve Learned. Writing and photographs illuminate the Pacific campaigns of World War II, Khmer Rouge Cambodia and the modern Middle East. Contributors include Chester Aaron, a soldier present at the liberation of Dachau, and MacArthur Foundation fellow Peter Cole, who spoke on campus in January 2009.
Previous themed issues address Korean culture in America, nature writing and women’s fiction. Crossing Over: Partition Literature of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh was launched at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in 2007.
Many issues compile works from Pacific and Asian nations from Mexico to Tibet. In 2005 Varua Tupu became the first anthology in English to offer writings, photography and paintings from the growing artistic community of French Polynesia.
Guest editors include renowned Chinese-American poet Arthur Sze, Nepalese writer Manjushree Thapa and American Book Award winner Barry Lopez.
Mānoa contributors range from Nobel Prize winners (Kenzaburo Oe) to popular writers (Joyce Carol Oates). Among the UH graduate students published are Mahealani Dudoit, founder of the first Native Hawaiian literary journal, and Samrat Uphadhyay, whose short story in Mānoa was selected by Amy Tan for reprinting in Best American Short Stories.
“We seek out many kinds of writing, focusing on work that contributes to greater understanding of cultural differences and similarities,” says Editor Stewart. “We’ve built issues around important questions, like how to foster understanding and reconciliation in divided communities.”
Voices from Okinawa, due out this month and funded in part by the University of the Ryukyus, features Hawaiʻi writers Jon Shirota (Lucky Come Hawaiʻi) and Philip Ige and reproductions of rare woodblock prints from Hamilton Library’s Sakamaki/Hawley Collection.
Visit the Mānoa 20th anniversary blog.
Web extras: cover slideshow and interview with editor Frank Stewart
Select a cover image to start the slideshow.