A lot more than a yr ago, poet Emelihter Kihleng was struggling to finish a fellowship in Munich, Germany. She was sensation helpless and nervous about a crisis having more than the globe: COVID-19.
Kihleng wrote a few strains a day and put in 8 months in Italy, when she made a decision to return house to Guam.
“I’m not a person of those people today born creating a poem. Looking through and composing poetry, understanding about the craft, and workshopping my poems and my classmates’ poems served me locate my voice,” Kihleng, 39, stated.
Kihleng is 1 of a handful of Micronesians to publish poetry in English and Pohnpeian. She joins a smaller team of poets who have written about Micronesia, together with Peter Onedera, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Craig Santos Perez.
Born on Guam to a mother from Illinois and a father from Pohnpei, Kihleng toggled involving Pohnpei and Guam, where by she attended Notre Dame Substantial School and George Washington Higher Faculty.
“I grew up with distinctive identities,” Kihleng stated. “In Pohnpei, I spoke Pohnpeian all working day. On Guam, people predominantly discuss English. Even nevertheless they’re in the identical location and only 3 several hours absent by aircraft, they are completely diverse worlds.”
At age 17, Kihleng browse Samoan writer Sia Figiel’s “In which We When Belonged.”
“That was the first time I go through a work of literature where by I noticed my existence ordeals reflected,” Kihleng said. “As a person who studies Pacific literature, I individually skilled how invisible Micronesia is in just higher Pacific literature. If you are from the region, you want to see by yourself mirrored.”
At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kihleng fell in really like with creative writing and examined underneath American poet Juliana Spahr. Afterwards, as a graduate student, she labored with Samoan writers Albert Wendt and his associate, Reina Whaitiri.
“Having a Pacific Islander mentor like Al truly built me want to continue to create about my activities as a Micronesian and a person raised in Pohnpei, Honolulu and Guam,” Kihleng reported. “It was motivating.”
At the Victoria College of Wellington in New Zealand, she wrote her doctoral thesis on the poetic ethnography of Pohnpeian skirts.
“Pacific Literature is demanding, crucial, tragic, total of adore and heartache. It speaks to so quite a few points about this element of this globe,” Kihleng stated. “It frequently helps make us experience ourselves, see our reflections, at times in means we might not like to. It forces us to be self-critical and this can be hard to browse at occasions, but is so required.”
In March, Kihleng returned to Guam. Because then, she’s submitted a poem to an anthology in Hawaii and go through a piece for the Honolulu Museum of Artwork.
“I genuinely struggled to produce through the pandemic,” Kihleng said. “Since I could not seem to be to generate poetry, I tried out to journal, but often even journaling was a battle. It was a complicated time.”
Her voice represents a single element of the varied Pacific region.
“This is exactly where I’m from,” Kihleng explained. “Micronesia, significantly Pohnpei and Guam, encourage me. I just publish the reality. I compose about my personal experiences.”
Achieve reporter Anne Wen at [email protected]