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Since the late 1970s, writers in Hawai'i have experimented with ways to create literature using the local Creole English known as Pidgin. This oral language developed in the early twentieth century among laborers who had immigrated to the islands to work on the sugar plantations. Speaking Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese, among other languages, these workers created a lingua franca—rich with their various vocabularies, syntaxes, and speech rhythms—which is still used throughout the islands.
One of the challenges Hawai'i's Pidgin authors face is the difficulty of putting into writing this fundamentally oral language—where meaning is conveyed experientially, by nuances of pitch and rhythm, by tone and gesture, or by an eyebrow's inflection.
Bradajo (also known as Jozuf Hadley) has been at the forefront of Pidgin poetry since his first book/record, Chalookyu eensai, was released in 1972. His approach to affixing language to the page remains unique among Pidgin authors. He sidesteps rules of orthography, syntax, and punctuation. Instead, his robust, good-humored calligraphic renderings of sounds ripple across the white field, recreating the play and surprise of speech.
Readers may listen to Bradajo reciting the following poems by visiting the Mänoa web page at www.hawaii.edu/mjournal/text/vietnam02.html. [End Page 161]
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Bradajo (aka Jozuf Hadley) is a third-generation kama'äina from Kaua'i. After serving in the air force, he studied art in Oakland, became an art teacher, and then moved to O'ahu's North Shore in the midsixties. He obtained an MFA in art from the University of Hawai'i and, after a life-changing experience in Waimea Canyon, began to write poetry in Hawai'i folk talk. His first book, Chaloookyu Eensai, was published in 1972. He retired from teaching in 2000.