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by Kalamalama staff


Every first Thursday of the month, the Hawaiian Hut opens its doors to about 600 members of the community at the tiki-inspired lounge, located inside the Ala Moana Hotel, for a competitive poetry slam. The event founder, Kealoha, the only name he uses, has helped build the local event into a thriving success as the world’s largest registered poetry slam. However, Kealoha credits achievement of the honorary title to the community.

“ There has been a lot of support from the artistic community,” Kealoaha said. “It’s like family, and this is the community.”

First Thursday features international poets, musicians, artists, and DJs. To kick off the second poetry slam of 2006, Kealoha flew in 30-year-old New York resident and national poetry slam competitor, Ove Maximus as his featured artist. Maximus, who has been writing poetry for three years, regularly performs at what Kealoha refers to as the “Mecca of poetry,” the Nuyorican Café, which features some of the freshest voices in the national artistic community. This month’s performance was Maximus’s first in Hawai‘i and at First Thursday.

“ I was really amazed how much energy there was,” Maximus said. “There was great energy and that’s the stuff I love.”

Another competitor in the slam, and the evening’s winner, was 13-year-old Kailua resident Ittai Wong. Wong was first inspired to begin writing poetry when the slam’s founder, Kealoha, came and spoke at his school introducing the students to the world of poetry. Inspired by Kealoha’s writings, Wong began writing with Kealoha, his mentor, and entering competitive slams.

“ It feels natural being on stage,” Wong said. “There is a lot of inspiration to write from other poets.”
The poetry slam not only seems to inspire other poets, but its audience members as well. Under the glow of the bungalow lights the passion expressed onstage by the performing artists was infectious and quick to uncoil a spring of inspiration that spread rapidly through the crowd during the course of the evening. The colorful, lively writings that were shared by the diversity of artists offered a wide range of expression that appealed to the interests of everyone there.

“ This was the second poetry slam that I have attended,” said an HPU student majoring in Journalism, Marquise Brack. “Again I left feeling a creative itch to begin writing myself.”

First Thursday offers a culturally ripe and rich environment which celebrates creative diversity within the artistic community and embraces artists of all ages, ethnicities, and locations. The event itself is inspiring, as are the heartfelt words sung from every poet’s pen.

The poetry slam starts at 8:30 p.m. with signups starting at 7:45 p.m.. The cost of admission is $3 before 8:30 p.m. and $5 after. For more info. visit: www.hawaiislam.com.


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