Zimbabwe Spin: Politics and Poetics.
Poets forge and foster hope. Is present-day Zimbabwe worth a song? Well, Kathryn Takara forces us to believe so: “Creative melodies of possibility flash across the darkening horizon lit by evening fires.” She predicts that the Great House will rise again from its current political mess. Listen to this great American poet, and you will realize Charles Baudelaire lives on. Takara’s dexterity in offering us Zimbabwe on a sweet and sour plate tells us that poetry is sister to photography. Zimbabwe Spin is a soothing voice for the rise of an African lame giant.”
–George Gnapka, PhD, author and professor in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Love’s Seasons: Generations Genetics Myths by Kathryn Waddell Takara ISBN 978-0-986075-0-6 $19.95
Love’s Seasons: Generation Genetics Myths.
“Between Alabama and Ka`a`awa there is a vast ocean of consciousness composed of a movement of infinitesimal water particles in a perfect and perennial dance with the infinitude of life forms. Dr. Waddell Takara captures the mystery of life and beyond with her precise cadence in sync with the divine love constantly generated by the vast and infinitesimal movement. Her open-ended poetics of sensuality transforms the “I” into an affect, inviting readers to experience at first hand the process of becoming-nature, becoming-cosmos, and becoming-whole on a molecular level of existence.” — Masahide T. Kato, PhD, Asst. Professor, PolSc, University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu
Frank Marshall Davis: The Fire and the Phoenix (A Critical Biography) by Kathryn Waddell Takara ISBN 978-0-984122-899 $19.95
“Fans of the book will welcome this definitive biography of a man who is a significant American poet. Details about Davis’ life include involvement with artists and writers, leadership with the Black press, experiences with the labor movement, and the ordeal of the McCarthy era. Dr. Takara, a poet herself, provides a well documented account based on years of friendship, interviews, archival research and analysis of his published and unpublished works.” – Miles M. Jackson, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawai`i at Manoa
Pacific Raven: Hawaii Poems by Kathryn Waddell Takara ISBN 978-0-9841228-0-6 $16.95
The title of this book was a difficult choice because these poems are about a part of my journey as a sojourner in Hawai`i. Actually, I chose the title 12 years ago. Initially it was a feeling, black in Hawai`i, a malihini, a part of and apart from the local born community. I have lived here three times longer than any other place in my multivarious life. But there are no ravens in Hawai`i. I asked myself, how many times has the raven been in and out of my life? What was going on and was there any significance? Where was I and when? What have I learned from raven?
My childhood roots are in the deep Jim Crow South. I was born and raised in a place and time when black was not considered a beautiful color and was associated with many negative things. Secretly, as a child, I admired the ravens for their shining beauty, their jet black glossy plumage, their iridescent blues, purples and green hues. They seemed big and strong and dominant. The old folk would say ravens are highly intelligent. They also considered ravens to be crafty agricultural pests, even aggressive scavengers of the dumps and road kill as their natural habitat was encroached upon and diminished. Some said ravens were noisy, bothersome, chatty nuisances, but who does not need a Plato’s gadfly to awaken our consciousness?
My mother, a professor of English and languages, regularly recited poetry to me including The Raven and Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe.
I also lived in southern France where ravens flew, sat on rocky ledges and in tall trees on the edges of vineyards, and in the open countryside. They seemed to watch the many changes as the towns and cities expanded, the mores changed, more foreigners and tourists appeared, and immigrant phobias and hypermarche began to flourish.
I spent a summer in Niger, West Africa where ravens heard incredible rhythms of drum beats and balaphones, nested near oases and watering holes, hung out near market places and in babobab trees like vultures, and scavenged and squawked over the scant food supply on the edge of the Sahara Desert, ever-present, ever watching, ever waiting.
The versatile and adaptable ravens are revered as powerful flyers, able to soar effortlessly. They are known to mate and nest together for life, carving out a territory for their nest high in a big tree or perched on a precarious cliff, or telephone pole, facing out. Adaptable ravens thrive in the wilderness, even in the midst of icy winter, in the middle of the desert, in the wet Northwest Territory near the woods, in the rocky headlands, and in the great forests. Yet, wherever they are, they prefer to be close to large expanses of open land to facilitate their hunt for food such as grains, berries and small animals. In fact, ravens are found all over the northern hemisphere, but not here in the Hawaiian islands where the black birds are: the iwa (frigate) bird, the Hawaiian crow, booby birds, black noddies, sooty storm tetrals, and terns.
I kept returning to the title, Pacific Raven: Hawai`i Poems as if the spirit of raven kept flying back into my space. I imagined that if ravens were here in the Hawaiian Islands, the adaptable ravens would inhabit a place like Ka`a`awa. I imagined that they would be in my large country garden, where they would squawk and quarrel with the minah birds in the avocado trees, sleep in the tall old mango trees, swoop down to gnaw on guava and papaya seeds, sit next to the cardinals in the plumeria trees after making peace. In my mind, I could envision them in Honolulu sitting in the shower trees, the Norfolk pines, or in the mountains by the Pali where they would like sit high in the koa and monkey pod trees. In my imaginings, I could even see them fly up to the volcano craters for a solitary visit on the Big Island, above the rain forests, sit in the o`hia trees in silent awe at the mighty hot mountain, flowing magma barely hidden beneath the earth’s crust.
Ravens did not come across the ocean, but I did. I am the raven who observes and can survive in many climates and places. I am the cunning trickster who taught, learned and thought secretly, when others thought I did not pay attention. I am the raven who with powerful wings and the spirit of the ancestors flew off to many countries, several continents, and to the high places in my mind where I marveled and awed at the beauty of Nature, the diversity of cultures, the changes in people, the music of the moon and stars. I am the intelligent raven who speaks and tells stories. I am a country dweller who can survive in the urban areas. I am the raven, a seeker of nourishment from the earth, from the seeds, and sometimes the leftovers. I am the raven, inspired by the rhythms of the trees, the whispers of the winds, the flow of various waters, oceans, rivers, ponds, pools, mists and rains. I am the raven, creative, independent, resourceful, and loyal who prefers to dwell in the countryside, woods, wilderness or high places. I am the Pacific Raven, a malihini who found and adapted to a new environment to create this collection of observations and reflections of life in Hawai`i. I am the old soul.
Timmy Turtle Teaches by Kathryn Waddell Takara ISBN 978-0-9840204-3-0 $29.95
The book draws inspiration from the magic of turtles—magnificent creatures who have a cherished place in the imaginations of people throughout the world.
Meet Sugar Daisy, her family and friends and travel with her as she journeys from one powerful adventure to the next from Alabama to the East Coast, France, West Africa, and Hawai`i. Ethnicity, culture, and travel reveal the similarities in people and the diversity in places that educate the readers both young and old. Experience the life lessons of Sugar Daisy and Timmy Turtle.
Tourmalines: Beyond the Ebony Portal by Kathryn Waddell Takara ISBN 978-0-9841228-2-0 $14.95
Tourmalines: Beyond the Ebony Portal.
A collection of poems with a focus on Black history and African-Americans, named and unnamed, represented by various colorful gemstones, with a variety of characteristics, properties and histories, and reflecting their unique experiences in their worlds.
The themes include: African origins, myths, nature, spirituality, music, family, color and politics, courage, resistance and growth, modern issues, and transformation of being and of place.
From the ebony of rich and lustrous old world trees and ancient tourmalines, the poems represent the world of a colorful, durable, ancient people still standing in post modern times, weathered survivors of cyclones and earthquakes of power and race, floods of oppression, and cruel sandstorms of history.
I invite the reader to walk through the portal of poetry into the black world, and receive my vision of self, cultural community, history and philosophy as an African-American woman carrying the blood of my Senegalese, Cherokee, Welsh, English and French ancestors. The journey follows a path of understanding my history, life experiences and the lives of a few beings who have touched, influenced and inspired me, emotionally, intellectually and in the flesh.
Tales from the Bench: Essays on Life and Justice.
“This is a pioneer memoir about a neglected slice of Hawai`i judicial history. This unique, insightful, and compelling account of the first African-American woman judge in the Hawaiian Islands candidly reveals the cultural and political events and forces on the Mainland and in the Islands that shaped her commitment to justice; growing up a Black girl in Chicago during post WWII migrations, the Civil Rights Movement, and the role of her family, community, social networks, and the church.” – Kathryn Waddell Takara, PhD, author of Frank Marshall Davis: The Fire and the Phoenix (A Critical Biography)
“African-American lawyers practiced law in the United States before the Civil War ended. Although the number of black lawyers is disproportionately low compared with white lawyers, the numbers are rising. Black lawyers have been instrumental in obtaining and securing equal rights under the U.S. Constitution. Black lawyers have a keen insight into civil rights violations because they are descendants of an unfair slavery system based upon skin color. Black lawyers who made their way to the Hawaiian Islands continued the civil rights struggle and through law, politics, government and other social acts. Their acts helped Hawai`i have a more just and egalitarian legal system.
As an African-American lawyer in Hawai`i, I felt it was essential to document our contributions. I start with early beginnings, recognizing two African-American lawyers, T. McCants Stewart and Dr. George Johnson, both of whom attained International, National and Local prominence in Hawai`i.
After presenting early African-American lawyers in Hawai`i, this book showcases case-law and events affecting race discrimination in Hawai`i as it pertains to African-Americans. From the 1950’s through the 1980’s, African-Americans were not always welcome in Hawai`i. Many liquor establishments refused to serve Black military men nor allow them into their establishments. Mayor Frank Fasi appointed Dr. John Edwards to the liquor commission in the 1980’s. After this appointment, the Liquor Commission began to fine establishments who discriminated. In the late 1980’s, the Civil Rights Commission of Hawai`i was created. Several of its rulings dealt with discrimination against African-Americans.” – Attorney Daphne Barbee-WootenIn 2004, AALA members traveled with the NBA to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. A travelogue of this trip concludes the book, a celebration with returning to Africa, meeting, connecting and observing the African legal system of 3 countries.
The urgency to recover the history of blacks in Hawaii is becoming more apparent with each passing day. Since the election of Barack Obama, the first admitted African-American President of the United States, more local and national attention is being focused on Hawai`i black history and the experiences and identity issues of Blacks in Hawai`i where Obama passed a formative time of his youth. The ideas and personal philosophy of Barack Obama were undoubtedly influenced by his socialization and education in the Hawaiian Islands and certainly his democratic approach to politics and his beliefs in diversity, unity, and community (ohana) were surely in part formulated by his multi-racial family and life in a multi-cultural Hawai`i.
Black contributions to the military in the Pacific theater, in island politics, their strong role in education and cultures are highlighted. The struggle of blacks to navigate between race and culture, ethnicity and history, is energized by buckets of hope, an enduring spiritual tradition, and gallons of patience. As blacks slowly emerge from a storm of resistance and stereotypes, unseen sharks of prejudice still lurk just below the surface of respectability and fair play in the form of lingering collectibles that demonize or make blacks look different and inferior.
The role of blacks in world history is almost unknown in the islands and youth, especially those with dark skins, can be inspired to strive for success with a more balanced teaching of history including ancient dark-skinned African gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines like Osiris, Isis, Nefertiti, the Queen of Sheba, the early African architects and astronomers, the black Magi, the ancient African universities and history of medicine and surgery, the mathematicians who envisioned the Pyramids, the black Madonnas and Saints, the countless agriculturalists, environmentalists, musicians, actors, healers, dancers, the genius of the black community. If for no other reason than the future of our country is at risk, the values of continuity and connectedness seem important goals to cleave to.
There is medicine in memory. For the past 40 years, Blacks have begun to research and write their own history in Hawai`i, debunking the myths and stereotypes, speaking riddles of opportunities and racial harmonies and the simultaneous lack of inclusion, the absent aloha and the mixed marriages, the marginalized history and the new perceptions of Blacks as a group, ethnic and racial, different yet sharing experiences of discrimination and alienation, humor and humility.
Hawai`i stands first in line in intercultural communication, understanding, and respect for other and different cultures and ethnic groups. Blacks as a group must join this circle of possibility and light through the sharing of our contributions to local, national and international history. Beyond education, love is the bond that heals and social interaction, intermarriage and mixed race children all help to strengthen trust between groups and keep the soul fires burning. Miscegenation has not been an issue in the islands, although housing, and segregated facilities for the military did promote unsavory racial relations in the past. Today people and groups navigate between the liquid mirror of race and culture to accept each other, to compromise and find mutual interests, to respect our humanity.