In the genre of storytelling, Kealoha has gained national recognition by showcasing at high profile events such as the National Storytelling Network Conference, the Bay Area Storytelling Festival and the Honolulu Storytelling Festival.
As an internationally acclaimed poet and storyteller, Kealoha has performed throughout the world- from the White House to the `Iolani Palace, from Brazil to Switzerland. He is the first poet in Hawai`i's history to perform at a governor's inauguration, was selected as a master artist for a National Endowment for the Arts program, and received a Community Inspiration Program grant from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.
In the seven years that he has represented Hawai`i at the National Poetry Slam, he has performed on the finals stage four times, was ranked in the top ten of the nations best poets in 2007, and was honored as a "National Poetry Slam Legend" in 2010. Kealoha was featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices series presented by Russel Simmons, and he has also made appearances on NBC, PBS, the Food Network, National Public Radio, and the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
10x10 Q&A with Kealoha
1. What does being Hawai’i's first official Poet Laureate mean to you?
Serving as Hawai'i's first poet laureate is an absolute honor, and one that I do not take lightly. The job of a poet laureate is to spread the joy of poetry to the people of Hawai'i, as well as to represent Hawai'i through poetry when touring abroad. It has inspired me to continue to create, share and listen on a daily basis.
2. What inspired you to create The Story of Everything; and how has it evolved since it's initial inception?
I am a huge fan of myths, legends and creation stories. Throughout history, these wonderful stories have encapsulated the knowledge of past times – they were how people from around the world made sense of the universe many centuries ago and how they passed down their knowledge from generation to generation. Here we are in 2018, however, and our knowledge about the universe has grown so much through science. I simply wanted to take that knowledge and run with it, encapsulating the science of today through storytelling, poetry, music, movement, visual art and chanting.
Since the initial inception of The Story of Everything, I have seen the story evolve into the multi-media bonanza that it has become, particularly through the talents that the entire cast, crew and directors have brought to the show.
3. What moves you to create a new piece (e.g.: music, human nature, visual arts, etc.)?
I gather my inspiration from various sources such as great conversations, surf sessions, hikes, movies, albums and reading. I’ve made an agreement with myself that whenever inspiration hits, I drop everything that I am doing and I spend a few minutes to write. And if I’m on a roll, those few minutes can turn into a few hours, days or weeks.
4. As a nuclear physicist and poet, what do you think is important in the interplay of science and art?
I see science and art as two really good dancers that often come together to symbiotically elevate each other’s potential to reach people. The main thing to keep in mind when doing scientific art is to keep true to both disciplines. The science has to be accurate, and the art has to be authentic. An audience can tell really quickly if one of the two is lacking.
5. Pick 5 words—that start with the letter ‘S’—that describe The Story of Everything.
sensory, sunshine, silly, seeking, sweaty
6. As a poet, what is your role in sharing truths and advancing the power of spoken word?
I am just one voice in a sea of many. My hope is that this voice can be used to add positivity to our societal conversation. Many years ago, I was moved by very talented poets to pick up a pen. Perhaps, if I am doing it right, I can inspire others to do the same and add their voices to the conversation so that we can all listen.
7. What is the best advice you have been given?
“Some will, some won’t, so what… next.” It’s a saying that one of my college professors shared with us in class. It means that some people will understand you and will be ready to join you on a journey, but some won’t. And when they won’t, then the appropriate mindset is to say “so what,” and then move on to the next, because there are billions of people in this world, and surely we can find someone who sees us for what we have to offer. This advice works for relationships, business, dreams and everything else under the sun. We have to be willing to fail and not take ourselves so seriously that the fear of failure paralyzes us.
8. Whom do you define as visionary?
There are so many folks from so many disciplines that I see as visionary. It is impossible for me to create a list, knowing that I would be leaving off so many that have had an impact on me.
9. What do you hope audience members take away from tonight's performance?
I hope audience members walk away with a deeper understanding and love for science. I also hope that they walk away with hope within their own lives and for our future.
10. What songs represent A sample of the Music that You Listened To when you wrote The Story of Everything?
Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
Manitoba - People Eating Fruit
Taimane – Jupiter
Postal Service – Brand New Colony
Michael Franti – Sometimes
The Books – Classy Penguin
Marlena Shaw - California Soul
Section 7 – Borobudur
Bjork – All Is Full of Love
Cecilio and Kapono – Lifetime Party
Kalapana – When the Morning Comes
Gabby Pahinui – Living on Easy (Live at Waimea Music Festival)
Makana – Koi
Hapa – Olinda Road
Bliss – Wish You Were Here
Thievery Corporation – Lebanese Blonde
Joss Stone – Super Duper Love
Rent Soundtrack - Seasons of Love
Owl City – Fireflies
Michael Jackson – Off the Wall
Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder - Soukora
OPEN MOUTH POETRY & THE STORY OF EVERYTHING
The Story of Everything creative conversation with Kealoha will be moderated by Open Mouth Reading Series co-curators Molly Bass Rector and J. Bailey Hutchinson.
Join us for the 10x10 After Party in Walker Atrium, with readings by Open Mouth Poetry Festival visiting writers Brody Parrish Craig and Dorothy Chan.
For more info about the Open Mouth Poetry Festival, click here!
DOROTHY CHAN is the author of Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018) and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Academy of American Poets, The Common, Diode Poetry Journal, Quarterly West, Blackbird, and elsewhere. Chan is the Editor of The Southeast Review.
BRODY PARRISH CRAIG attended Hollins University where they received their B.A. in English & French. They recently completed their M.F.A. in Poetry at University of Arkansas where they began writing their first manuscript, a collection of hybrid poems inspired by queer phenomenology, the Bible Belt & recovery.
MOLLY BESS RECTOR lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas where she co-curates the Open Mouth Reading Series—a community-based poetry series that hosts monthly readings by visiting writers, as well as workshops and retreats. Molly earned her MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas and currently works as project editor for the University of Arkansas Press.
J. BAILEY HUTCHINSON is an MFA Candidate and Teaching Assistant at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, where she obtained her BA from Rhodes College. Hutchinson is the current Poetry Editor for the Arkansas International, and she serves on the board of directors for the Open Mouth non-profit reading series.
The Story of Everything
Kealoha, internationally acclaimed Poet Laureate and honored MIT Nuclear Physics graduate, condenses 13.7 billion years into a 90-minute multi-media stage show!