Hawaiian-Language Creative Writing Competition Opens to the World

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A new Hawaiian creative writing and poetry competition is now accepting entries. Sponsored by Awaiaulu, a non-profit in Oahu, the “Hookuku Mele a Moolelo” is aimed at increasing skill and proficiency in the native Hawaiian language.

"There are many places to learn Hawaiian now, but this kind of effort links up all the learners, and even the teachers, in a fun 'give it your very best' kind of competition. This contest will generate new poetry, songs and short stories that the whole Hawaiian language community can enjoy." says Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, a professor of Hawaiian language at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a multi-award-winning composer, and the executive director of Awaiaulu, Inc., the organization sponsoring the competition.

Hawaiian is considered an endangered language, with only perhaps 10,000 fluent speakers. Efforts to save the language and increase its number of speakers began with the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s, leading to widespread teaching and the establishment of Hawaiian immersion schools. Hawaiian is an official language of the State of Hawaii, the number of speakers is rising, and students can complete their entire educational career - from preschool through college - in olelo Hawaii.

There is a great historical collection of Hawaiian language literature in the more than one hundred Hawaiian language newspapers of the 19th and 20th centuries which are still being explored and enjoyed today, but this competition is providing a venue for brand new works. "There is a long history of Hawaiian writers and composers - all of the Hawaiian royals were skilled poets, as were farmers and pharmacists - so we want to encourage that tradition to continue on as a living legacy of Hawaii."

Contest entries are accepted until July 31st, and award recipients will be announced on September 2nd in Oahu. All dates are Hawaii Standard Time. For more information on the competition or to submit an entry, visit http://www.hawaiianliterature.com.

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Puakea Nogelmeier
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