Kealoha Becomes First ‘Hawai’i Poet Laureate’

May 3, 2012, 10:10 AM HST · Updated May 3, 10:11 AM
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Kealoha (File Image)

By Wendy Osher

Award-winning slam poet Steven Kealohapau’ole Hong-Ming Wong, better known by pen name “Kealoha,” will be honored today with title of Hawai’i Poet Laureate.

Governor Neil Abercrombie will issue the ceremonial title at an event this afternoon at the Hawai’i State Art Museum.

By accepting the ceremonial title, Kealoha becomes the first official poet laureate for the state. Maui is home to national poet laureate W.S. Merwin who received his title from the Library of Congress.

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Kealoha will complete his first ceremonial duty under the new title by performing at the dedication of the Museum’s Sculpture Garden.

He will also occasionally perform as Hawai’i Poet Laureate at official state events and represent Hawai’i at similar ceremonial events held nationally and internationally.

Kealoha has gained acclaim both locally and internationally as a poet and storyteller who has performed throughout the world – from the White House to ‘Iolani Palace.

Kealoha was also the first poet to perform at a Hawai’i governor’s inauguration on December 6, 2010.

***File footage from 2011 Kealoha performance on Maui. 

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