Anna Davide is an poet and singer raised on the island of Oahu. As an aspiring advocate, she speaks her truths with a bilingual tongue of English and Tagalog. She spends her time constantly being distracted by anything that crosses her path, exhaling random melodies, and documenting what she would otherwise forget. Currently she is a student at University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Malialina Derden is a Filipino/ Black poet from Kalihi, who spends most of her time at Kokua Kalihi Valley where she works as a story collector and capacity builder. Malialina is a former member of the 2014 Youth Speaks Hawai'i slam team that competed at the Brave New Voices international youth spoken word competition in Philadelphia. In 2016 she became the first woman to represent Hawaii at Women Of The World Poetry Slam in Brooklyn New York. In her free time she likes to listen to podcasts, read articles, and watch cartoons.
Will Giles is a second generation Samoan-American poet, playwright, and educator from Hawaii. He is a Kundiman Poetry Fellow who studied with the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he debuted his one man show Still Born. His work navigates post colonial oppression, masculinity, and the disconnect of immigrant identity for those still drowning in their own blood. Will has performed and facilitated poetry workshops in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Guahan, England, and across the United States. He currently works as the Workshop Coordinator for the nonprofit organization Pacific Tongues on Oahu, is a Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion, and is the 2015 National Underground Poetry Slam Champion.
Joanna Gordon dwells in the gentrified swamplands of Hawaii Kai and is an English major studying creative writing at UH Manoa. She has competed as a poet for various Pacific Tongues events as well as the International competition Brave New Voices in 2014. She was a member of First Wave Hip Hop Theatre Ensemble at the University of Wisconsin, and has co-written and performed in a collaborative production called “Welcome Mat at Capacity." She finds strength in strong decolonized riot grrls, gelato, punk rock shows, blank notebooks, and her weird cat-friend Tiger.
Noa Helela has written and performed slam poetry with Pacific Tongues since 2006, and has acted in two productions with the Windward Community College Theatre department. She is also working on a script for an independent TV series called Disorder. Lastly, and most importantly, she does not exist.
Geraldine Dadulla Ilan, also known as “Denden,” is a Filipino-American poet who was born and raised on the island of Oahu. Just as her parents migrated from the Philippines to America, she moved from the streets of Kalihi to the small town of Waipahu at a young. Denden was the former president of Waipahu High School’s Slam Poetry Club. And with the guidance and wisdom from other poetry facilitators, she helped to coach her team for the Youth Speaks Hawaii 2015 Interscholastic Teen Team Poetry Slam, which resulted in her team receiving that night’s “Can You Kick It?” award. After graduating high school, she decided to step up and become her alma mater's official coach for the new school year. Currently, she is studying at Hawaii Pacific University and is pursuing a degree in Business with the concentration of Travel Industry Management.
Harrison Ines is a Brave New Voices International Youth Slam Poetry Festival champion, a three-time member of the Youth Speaks Hawai’i travel team, a HawaiiSlam Grand Slam Finalist, and in 2009, he led his alma mater Farrington High School to their first Hawai’i Interscholastic Poetry Slam Championship. With a mixture of raw emotion and honest power, Harrison’s poetry brought both Youth Speaks founder James Kass and performing artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph to tears in his first year competing at Brave New Voices. Since then, he has wowed audiences with his balance of humor and pain, love and longing, darkness and hope.
Lee Kava is a hafekasi musician of Tongan descent, currently dreaming/scheming about how she might produce an album and make it an acceptable form of completing her PhD in English at UH Mānoa. She is the founder of the Pacific Verse, a music-writing workshop series that works with participants to create original lyrics and music using indigenous Pacific languages. She dedicates her work to the genealogy of creative expression in Oceania, and hopes to make positive social change through Pacific music and poetry.
David Keali‘i is a queer poet of mixed Kanaka Maoli descent who was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. A poet, whose work has appeared in Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poetry in English (Whetu Moana, Volume II), and Assaracus: a Journal of Gay Poetry. He was also a member of the 2009 Worcester Poetry Slam and is a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa's Center for Pacific Islands Studies.
Navid Najafi is a founding member of local conscious rap collective the Super Groupers and a two-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner — he took home trophies for Hip-Hop Album of the Year in 2012 (for his solo album “Illnomadic”) and 2013 (for “Live From Soul Sound” as part of the band Evasive Species). He also serves as an administrator for the Honolulu Museum of Art’s “Soundshop” interactive music education workshop series at Doris Duke Theatre.
Ashley Nakanishi-Shankles steadily reps Uchinaa pride and has come a long way from the Okinawan islands. She is a working mother, actress, student and poet. She currently facilitates poetry workshops in detention centers, transitional housing for DVAC survivors and the occasional high school. Shankles is pursuing her masters in post-secondary education blending history, sociology and creative writing to focus on the human diaspora, de colonizing the mind, and the pursuit of equality through love and education.
"As the descendent of back-porch storytellers, Jenna Robinson believes music and poetry are the perfect tools to heal from trauma and grief by empowering people to reclaim their past. Jenna works with several youth based organizations to inspire the therapeutic nature of writing and spoken arts performance: with foster youth as a mentor with Family Programs Hawaii, with youth bereavement groups at the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, and with adjudicated youth through Girls Court at the Hawaii State Judiciary. She has performed across the U.S. as a street musician and as a part of several national slam poetry teams (Hawaii Slam 2012, 2014, 2015 & UH CUPSI 2013). She is also the reigning two-time grand slam champion of Hawaii Slam. Jenna holds a B.A. in History and Ethnic Studies from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Her poetry performances and workshops arecentered on cultural and queer identity, grief, trauma informed care, historical re-education, and community building."
Serena Ngaio Simmons is a writer of Maori and Pakeha descent born and raised on the island of O’ahu and is currently an undergraduate in the English department at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, where she spends the majority of her time these days reading and writing. Serena is a former member of the 2011 and 2012 Youth Speaks Hawai’i slam team that competed at the Brave New Voices international youth spoken word competition, and has had her poems published in issue 36 of Blackmail Press, the “Call & Response” issue of Hawai’i Review, as wellas Hawai’i Review's forthcoming issue, "Muliwai".
TravisT (Travis Kaulula'au Thompson): Co-Founder, since 2005. As a Pacific Islander, scholar, worker, activist, poet, mentor, and organizer with over 15 years of experience in the Honolulu spoken word poetry community, TravisT is also a co-founder of the award-winning local youth literacy non-profit known as Youth Speaks Hawaii (as seen on HBO). As a poet, he is an eight time member of the HI-slam team; the 2007 HI-slam Champ, the 2003 Red Shark Slam Jam People's Champ; and has performed his poetry on dozens of stages across the nation. He's been featured on NPR, WBAI, Pacifica, HPR, KTUH, & Olelo TV. He released a cd "The TrapperKeeperT Files" in 2007 & authored two chapbooks "Serving LIFE SENTENCES" (2003), & "the Politics of Lips" (2004). As an activist, mentor and organizer he co-founded Youth Speaks Hawaii in 2005; co-hosted "Words @ Ward Rafters", "re:VERSES", "2nd Saturdays", the "Hawaii Theatre Slam"; taught Creative Writing at Palama Settlement's ICTP and the Kapolei Juvenile Detention Center; and has has visited countless classrooms across O'ahu. He is currently pursuing his MA in Pacific Island Studies at UH Manoa,
and is a part-time raw-vegan chef.