by Laurel Nakanishi
“Compassion for human suffering, profound engagement with the natural world, humility in the face of the sacred: these are the hallmarks of Ashore, a document of lyrical witness steeped in the language, history and mythology of her native Hawaii.”
Format: Paperback; 92 pp.
Published: March 2021
“A deep and genuine reverence for life”— that elemental notion, borrowed from one of her poems, captures Laurel Nakanishi’s essence as a writer. Compassion for human suffering, profound engagement with the natural world, humility in the face of the sacred: these are the hallmarks of Ashore, a document of lyrical witness steeped in the language, history and mythology of her native Hawaii. Ashore is a wonderful first book, plain and simple, and if I wish that it might become required reading for poets, it is because—to quote another of her poems— “I hope the rest of us can learn from your kind soul.”
Laurel Nakanishi asks in her poetic debut, “What remains changeless? Not the words/ that form in our mouths. Not the senses // that gust through us.” In this spirit of recursive inquiry and diligent attention, Ashore mirrors the motions of the sea, the fluctuations of power and desire, and the currents of Hawaiian history, which is to say human history, riddled with heartbreak and hope. Come ashore with me, fellow readers. You will find here a visionary, courageous, and indispensable work.
—Julie Marie Wade
From the waters of Waikīkī, to the forests outside Honolulu, and across the Pacific ocean, the poems in Laurel Nakanishi’s debut collection consider the relationships between place and story. In estrangement and intimacy, at home and away, on the surface and in the depths, these poems level a steady gaze on the world and ask, “And yet, what do I really know?” The answer comes in memory and geography, in old songs and moments folded into a larger time. These poems ask us to live deeply on the earth, to attend to the “stories at work in us,” and known ourselves anew.
Laurel Nakanishi was born and raised on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. Through her work as a writer and educator, she has lived in Montana, Nicaragua, and Japan. She has been fortunate to receive grants from the Fulbright Foundation, Japan-US Friendship Commission, and Wrolstad Foundation. Her poetry and essays have appeared in national literary magazines and a prize-winning chapbook, Mānoa|Makai. Laurel received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana and her MFA in creative non-fiction from Florida International University. She lives with her family in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
Click here to access a complimentary “Recommended Reading” list of books and articles that would pair well with Ashore, courtesy of the author.
Click here to access a suite of complimentary lesson plans for Ashore, courtesy of the author.
Click here to access a suite of instructional videos for young writers, courtesy of the author.