Q & A with Kealoha: Students get ‘slammed’ on first day back


Slam poet Steven Wong, known as Kealoha, shares his spoken word art with students on the first day of school. He spoke about unity and being Hawaiian to introduce the school year’s theme, huliämahi.

By Amanda Lee, News Co-editor

Steven Wong, professionally known as poetry slam artist Kealoha, is an internationally acclaimed storyteller.

On August 1, 2011, Kealoha came to Kamehameha Maui to welcome students back to school on their first day by performing four of his poems (Recess, Native Intelligence, The Lesson of Essence and One)  and sharing stories of his life.

In his poem Recess , he described life as a child, portraying the simple joys he experienced in elementary school.

Native Intelligence shared what he thought it meant to be a native Hawaiian. He explained through poetry how he is the product of his ancestors and how he lives on through them.

The Lesson of Essence and One gave his thoughts on being whoever you are and how important it is to give back and come together as one.

Students were captivated by his presentation, laughing and applauding throughout the performance. Senior Kauluwehi Rindlisbacher found the poems and stories to be “extremely expressive and awesome.”  She said, “You could imagine what he was saying in your head, it was so vivid.”

Accoording to Wong’s Web site kealohapoetry.com , he has represented Hawai`i at the National Poetry Slam for seven years and was ranked in the top ten of the nation’s best poets in 2007. He earned the title “National Slam Legend” in 2010.  He is the founder of HawaiiSlam, Youth Speaks Hawai`i (2-Time International Champions) and First Thursdays, the largest registered slam poetry competition in the world.  In the genre of storytelling, he 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.

Questions and Answers with Kealoha:

Q: What was your message to the students today (August 1)?
A: Being motivated for the year, coming together as one

Q: Why did you choose those poems?
A: I chose to perform those poems because I felt that they fit the story of what I was trying to convey.

Q: Why did you decide to come to Kamehameha Maui?
A: Part of it is it’s my responsibility to motivate the keiki of Hawai’i and a school like Kamehameha Maui. I’ve been to all the other Kamehameha schools and thought it was time to come to Maui.

Q: How did it feel being here?
A: I felt great; it was a joy to be around your energy and to be there for the first day of school.

Q: What do you hope the students take away from your talk?
A: I hope they take away the bigger sense of what this is all about, about what their education is all about, about what their community is all about and about what role they should be playing.