Part memoir, part Japanese American family chronicle, part luminous work of natural history, Volcano tells what happened when Hongo returned to his birthplace in Hawai'i, as a young man, to reclaim its dreamlike landscape and his own elusive past. A magnificant evocation of heritage and place.
Garrett Hongo was born in Volcano, Hawai‘i, lived as a child in Kahuku on O‘ahu, and grew up thereafter in Los Angeles. He is the author of two previous collections of poetry, three anthologies, and Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai‘i. His poems and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. He has been the recipient of several awards, including fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches at the University of Oregon, where he is Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.
My favorite kind of book is a poet's first prose work. The poet comes upon a story so large -- his life, nature, history -- hat he must break out of careful verse into the freedom of prose. William Carlos Williams, Rainer Maria Rilke, Sylvia Plath, Raymond Carver, Louise Erdrich -- and now Garrett Hongo."
-- Maxine Hong Kingston
"When I finished this brave and sharp story I wanted to start again because of the honesty in the author's voice and the many gifts -- beautiful language, vivid and apt anecdotes, a novelist's narrative instinct -- that await the reader. Garrett Hongo elucidates here a Dragon; he reveals intelligence as love. And he magics time."
-- Barry Lopez
"In this memoir, the village of Volcano is both a place on the map and a beacon in the far more elusive terrain of a man's personal history. In charting that history, Garrett Hongo has produced a lyrical and penetrating work grafting intimate recollection with broad insight. He has aspired to Rousseau's standard for himself -- and for all memoirists -- to recount comprehensively 'what I have felt . . . and what my feelings have had me do.'"