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About this poet

Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamorro from Mongmong, Guam. In 1995, his family moved to California. He lived there for fifteen years before moving to Hawaii. Perez earned his BA in literature and creative writing in 2002 at the University of Redlands in California and his MFA in poetry at the University of San Francisco in 2006.

Perez has authored four books of poetry: from unincorporated territory [lukao] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2017), from unincorporated territory [guma’] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2014), winner of the 2015 American Book Award; from unincorporated territory [saina] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2010), winner of the PEN Center USA 2011 Literary Prize for Poetry; and from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008).

Perez’s poetry focuses on themes of Pacific life, immigration, ancestry, colonialism, and diaspora.

In 2010, as part of Resolution No. 315-30, the Guam Legislature recognized Perez as an “accomplished poet who has been a phenomenal ambassador for our island, eloquently conveying through his words, the beauty and love that is the Chamorro culture.” In 2011, he cofounded Ala Press, an independent publisher with a focus on Pacific literature.

In 2017 Perez became the first native Pacific Islander to receive a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship for Poetry. His other awards include the Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange Award, the Emily Chamberlain Cook Poetry, and the Jean Burden Poetry Award.

Perez teaches Pacific literature and creative writing at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He lives in Mānoa.


Bibliography

from unincorporated territory [lukao] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2017)
from unincorporated territory [guma’] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2014)
from unincorporated territory [saina] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2010)
from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008)

Thanksgiving in the Anthropocene, 2015

Thank you, instant mashed potatoes, your bland taste 
makes me feel like an average American. Thank you, 
 
incarcerated Americans, for filling the labor shortage 
and packing potatoes in Idaho. Thank you, canned 
 
cranberry sauce, for your gelatinous curves. Thank you, 
Ojibwe tribe in Wisconsin, your lake is now polluted 
 
with phosphate-laden discharge from nearby cranberry 
bogs. Thank you, crisp green beans, you are my excuse 
 
for eating apple pie à la mode later. Thank you, indigenous 
migrant workers, for picking the beans in Mexico’s farm belt, 
 
may your children survive the season. Thank you, NAFTA, 
for making life dirt cheap. Thank you, Butterball Turkey, 
 
for the word, butterball, which I repeat all day butterball
butterball, butterball because it helps me swallow the bones 
 
of genocide. Thank you, dark meat, for being so juicy 
(no offense, dry and fragile white meat, you matter too). 
 
Thank you, 90 million factory-farmed turkeys, for giving 
your lives during the holidays. Thank you, factory-farm 
 
workers, for clipping turkey toes and beaks so they don’t scratch 
and peck each other in overcrowded, dark sheds. Thank you, 
 
genetic engineering and antibiotics, for accelerating 
their growth. Thank you, stunning tank, for immobilizing 
 
most of the turkeys hanging upside down by crippled legs. 
Thank you, stainless steel knives, for your sharpened 
 
edge and thirst for throat. Thank you, de-feathering 
tank, for your scalding-hot water, for finally killing the last
 
still-conscious turkeys. Thank you, turkey tails, for feeding 
Pacific Islanders all year round. Thank you, empire of 
 
slaughter, for never wasting your fatty leftovers. Thank you, 
tryptophan, for the promise of an afternoon nap;
 
I really need it. Thank you, store-bought stuffing, 
for your ambiguously ethnic flavor, you remind me 
 
that I’m not an average American. Thank you, gravy, 
for being hot-off-the-boat and the most beautiful 
 
brown. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me at the table 
of this poem. Please join hands, bow your heads, and repeat
 
after me: “Let us bless the hands that harvest and butcher 
our food, bless the hands that drive delivery trucks 
 
and stock grocery shelves, bless the hands that cooked 
and paid for this meal, bless the hands that bind 
 
our hands and force-feed our endless mouth. 
May we forgive each other and be forgiven.”
 

Copyright © 2016 by Craig Santos Perez. “Thanksgiving in the Anthropocene, 2015” originally appeared in Rattle. Reprinted with permission of the author. 

Copyright © 2016 by Craig Santos Perez. “Thanksgiving in the Anthropocene, 2015” originally appeared in Rattle. Reprinted with permission of the author. 

Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez, a native Chamorro from Mongmong, Guam, writes about themes such as Pacific life, immigration, ancestry, colonialism, and diaspora.

by this poet

poem

Guam is considered the SPAM® capital of the world. On average, each Chamorro consumes 16 tins of SPAM® each year, which is more per capita than any country in the world. Headline: Guam Struggles to Find Its Roots From Beneath Growing Piles of SPAM®. Guam, Hawaii, and Saipan have the only McDonald's restaurants that

poem
I
Among starving polar bears, 
The only moving thing 
Was the edge of a glacier.
 
II
We are of one ecology
Like a planet
In which there are 200,000 glaciers.
 
III
The glacier absorbed greenhouse gases
poem

(to my wife, nālani
and our 7-month old daughter, kai)

kai cries
from teething—

how do
new parents

comfort a
child in

pain, bullied
in school,

shot by
a drunk

APEC agent?
#justicefor

-kollinelderts—