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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 three books of poetry: 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 [guma’] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2014)
from unincorporated territory [saina] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2010)
from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier (after Wallace Stevens)

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. 
We are a large part of the biosphere.
 
IV
Humans and animals 
Are kin. 
Humans and animals and glaciers 
Are kin.
 
V
We do not know which to fear more,
The terror of change
Or the terror of uncertainty, 
The glacier calving
Or just after.
 
VI
Icebergs fill the vast Ocean
With titanic wrecks. 
The mass of the glacier 
Disappears, to and fro. 
The threat
Hidden in the crevasse
An unavoidable cause.
 
VII
O vulnerable humans,
Why do you engineer sea walls?
Do you not see how the glacier
Already floods the streets
Of the cities around you?
 
VIII
I know king tides, 
And lurid, inescapable storms; 
But I know, too, 
That the glacier is involved 
In what I know.
 
IX
When the glacial terminus broke, 
It marked the beginning 
Of one of many waves.
 
X
At the rumble of a glacier
Losing its equilibrium, 
Every tourist in the new Arctic
chased ice quickly.
 
XI
They explored the poles 
for offshore drilling. 
Once, we blocked them, 
In that we understood 
The risk of an oil spill
For a glacier.
 
XII
The sea is rising.
The glacier must be retreating.
 
XIII
It was summer all winter. 
It was melting 
And it was going to melt.
The glacier fits
In our warm-hands.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Craig Santos Perez. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier” originally appeared in Newsletter of the Comparative Literature Association of the Republic of China. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Craig Santos Perez. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier” originally appeared in Newsletter of the Comparative Literature Association of the Republic of China. 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

in collaboration with my wife, Brandy Nālani McDougall
and our one-year old daughter, Kaikainaliʻi

kaikainaliʻi wakes from her late afternoon nap
and reaches for nālani with small open hands—

count how many papuan children
still reach for their

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

        Honolulu, Hawaii

We host a small family party to celebrate
my daughter’s second birthday. This year
 
is the hottest in history, breaking the record
set when she was born. Still, I grill meat
 
over charcoal and watch smoke crawl