25 Jun 2011

Guam poet's work informed by need for voice against militarisation

9:43 am on 25 June 2011

A Chamorro poet says that although there are only a handful of published writers in Guam, indigenous literature is blossoming.

Craig Santos Perez is attending this week's Reading and Writing in the Pacific conference at Wellington's Victoria University.

Like many Pacific poets, he says his role is to speak out against colonisation.

Mr Santos Perez says the militarisation of Guam by the United States initially repressed awareness of indigenous heritage.

But he says that Chamorro consciousness is now experiencing something of a reawakening.

"Currently the US military occupies a third of our landmass, and they plan to build up their military footprint, including bringing 80-thousand new residents to the island of only 170-thousand people. I feel like now more than ever, it's so urgent to express ourselves and poetry and fiction and spoken word is a great venue for that."

Craig Santos Perez.