Republic of Apples, Democracy of Oranges: New Eco-Poetry from China and the United States (MĀNOA 31:1)

Qutang Gorge Entrance II, Daixi, 2003. Photograph by Linda Butler. In June 2003, when the reservoir formed, the confluence of the Daixi tributary and the Yangtze River disappeared beneath the waters, which washed over the feet of the distant mountains. The ruins of Daixi town also vanished.
Qutang Gorge Entrance II, Daixi, 2003. In June 2003, when the reservoir formed, the confluence of the Daixi tributary and the Yangtze River disappeared beneath the waters, which washed over the feet of the distant mountains. The ruins of Daixi town also vanished. Photograph by Linda Butler, this issue.

Republic of Apples, Democracy of Oranges presents nearly 100 poets and translators from China and the U.S.―the two countries most responsible for global carbon dioxide emissions and the primary contributors to extreme climate change. These poetic voices express the altered relationship that now exists between the human and non-human worlds, a situation in which we witness everyday the ways environmental destruction is harming our emotions and imaginations.

“What can poetry say about our place in the natural world today?” ecologically minded poets ask. “How do we express this new reality in art or sing about it in poetry?” And, as poet Forrest Gander wonders, “how might syntax, line break, or the shape of the poem on the page express an ecological ethics?”

Eco-poetry freely searches for possible answers. Sichuan poet Sun Wenbo writes:

… I feel so liberated I start writing about
the republic of apples and democracy of oranges. When I see
apples have not become tanks, oranges not bombs,
I know I’ve not become a slave of words after all.

The Chinese poets are from throughout the PRC and Taiwan, both minority and majority writers, from big cities and rural provinces, such as Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture and Xinjiang Uyghur, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regions. The American poets are both emerging and established, from towns and cities across the U.S.

Included are images by celebrated photographer Linda Butler documenting the Three Gorges Dam, on the Yangtze River, and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, on the Mississippi River Basin.

Celebrating Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month with Free Journal Content

We are proud to publish an extensive list of Pacific, Asian, and Southeast Asian studies journals. This Asian / Pacific American Heritage Month, explore and enjoy the following free journal content online:

Open Access Journals:

Asian/Pacific Island Nursing Journal

Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society

Language Documentation & Conservation

Palapala: a journal of Hawaiian language and literature

Free journal content online:

Asian Perspectives: The Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific (46#1, 2007)

Asian Theatre Journal: Official Journal of the Association for Asian Performance (23#1, 2006)

Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture (1, 2007)

Buddhist-Christian Studies: Official Journal of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies (27, 2007)

China Review International: Reviews of Scholarly Literature in Chinese Studies (15#1, 2008)

The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs (15#1, 2003)

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review (3#1, 2014)

The Hawaiian Journal of History (49, 2015)

Journal of Daoist Studies (8, 2015)

Journal of Korean Religions (6#1, 2015)

Korean Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal on Korea and Koreans Abroad (29, 2005)

MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing: New Writing from America, the Pacific, and Asia (19#1, 2007)

Oceanic Linguistics: Current Research on Languages of the Oceanic Area (50#2, 2011)

Pacific Science: Biological and Physical Sciences of the Pacific Region (71#4, 2017)

Philosophy East & West: A Quarterly of Comparative Philosophy (53#3, 2007)

Rapa Nui Journal: The journal of the Easter Island Foundation (30#2, 2016)

Review of Japanese Culture and Society (24, 2012)

U.S.–Japan Women’s Journal (45, 2013)

Asian Perspectives 58-1
Asian Theatre Journal 36-1 cover

Visit our website to learn more about our publications or to subscribe.

 

Three International Journals Celebrate 30th Anniversary

(HONOLULU, Hawai‘i)  The University of Hawai‘i Press celebrates the 30th Anniversary for three influential university-based journals—The Contemporary Pacific, Journal of World History, and Mānoa—in collaboration with the Center for Pacific Island Studies, Department of History, and the Department of English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

In the past three decades, these journals have attracted a growing, global audience for more than 6,300 articles read in over 170 countries. The Journal of World History served as a pioneer in the field of world history and continues to publish quality peer-reviewed articles and special issues quarterly. Research published in The Contemporary Pacific has shaped an entire field of Pacific Studies and has often demonstrated foresight and long-lasting relevance. Indeed, the journal kicked off its first issue in 1989 with an article on the potential impacts of climate change in the Pacific. Also among the journal’s most cited pieces are features published in its political reviews section which document the local and regional politics of Pacific Islands states. Mānoa brings to light new translations of international literature, highlighting the work of both emerging and established translators and authors, including Pulitzer Prize winners and Nobel laureates. In 2018 alone, works from the three journals garnered more than one-quarter million downloads.  

The journals were founded in 1989 in response to the university president’s call to expand the journals published by UH Press. “Since being awarded the modest, three-year start-up funding, these journals now annually reach tens of thousands of researchers, scholars, students, and the general public,” said Joel Cosseboom, Interim Press Director & Publisher.

A special celebration was held at College Hill on March 13, commemorating the 30th anniversary of their founding. Learn more about The Contemporary Pacific, Journal of World History, and Mānoa below and at www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/journals.

The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs, edited by Alexander Mawyer

ISSN: 1043-898X  / E-ISSN: 1527-9464  Published twice a year.

Founding Editorial Team: Robert Kiste, Terence Wesley-Smith, David Hanlon, Brij Lal and Linley Chapman. Awarded Best New Journal (1990) from the Association of American Publishers. The journal editorial office is supported by the Center for Pacific Island Studies.

The journal covers a wide range of disciplines with the aim of providing comprehensive coverage of contemporary developments in the entire Pacific Islands region, including Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. It features refereed, readable articles that examine social, economic, political, ecological, and cultural topics, along with political reviews, book and media reviews, resource reviews, and a dialogue section with interviews and short essays. Each issue highlights the work of a Pacific Islander artist.

The Journal of World History: Official Journal of the World History Association, with editor-in-chief Fabio López Lázaro

ISSN: 1045-6007 / E-ISSN: 1527-8050  Published quarterly.

Founding Editor, Jerry Bentley with Imre Bard as Book Review Editor. Awarded Best New Journal (1990) from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. The journal editorial office is supported by the Department of History.

JWH publishes research into historical questions requiring the investigation of evidence on a global, comparative, cross-cultural, or transnational scale. It is devoted to the study of phenomena that transcend the boundaries of single states, regions, or cultures, such as large-scale population movements, long-distance trade, cross-cultural technology transfers, and the transnational spread of ideas. Individual subscription is by membership in the World History Association.

Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, edited by Frank Stewart

ISSN: 1045-7909 / E-ISSN: 1527-943X Published twice a year.

Founding Editors, Frank Stewart and Robert Shapard.  Works in MĀNOA have been cited for excellence by the editors of such anthologies as Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and Pushcart Prize. The journal editorial office is supported by the Department of English.

Mānoa is a unique, award-winning literary journal that includes American and international fiction, poetry, artwork, and essays of current cultural or literary interest. An outstanding feature of each issue is original translations of contemporary work from Asian and Pacific nations, selected for each issue by a special guest editor. Beautifully produced, Mānoa presents traditional alongside contemporary writings from the entire Pacific Rim, one of the world’s most dynamic literary regions.

University of Hawai‘i Press

The University of Hawai‘i Press supports the mission of the university through the publication of books and journals of exceptional merit. It strives to advance knowledge through the dissemination of scholarship—new information, interpretations, methods of analysis—with a primary focus on Asian, Pacific, Hawaiian, Asian American, and global studies. It also serves the public interest by providing high-quality books and resource materials of educational value on topics related to Hawai‘i’s people, culture, and natural environment. Through its publications, the Press seeks to stimulate public debate and educate both within and outside the classroom.

UH Press is a member of the Association of University Presses and the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association. The Press has also partnered with museums and associations to bring new or out-of-print titles into circulation, and offers publishing services for authors and partnering organizations.

News Release Date: March 19, 2019
Media contact: Pamela Wilson, Journals Manager
Pwilson6@hawaii.edu 808-956-6790

Becoming Brazil: New Fiction, Poetry, and Memoir (MĀNOA 30:2)

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”3_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.17.6″]

Sebastião Salgado Selected photographs Brazil, 1981–2016
Sebastião Salgado, selected photographs. Brazil, 1981–2016. Salgado is the featured artist in Becoming Brazil.

Becoming Brazil, the newest issue from MĀNOA, brings together prose and poetry by more than two dozen authors, juxtaposing stories of the country’s diverse people in places urban, rural and remote. Depicted in this collection are the machinations of the military in Brasilia during the recent dictatorship; the cultural practices of the caiçara fishermen of Paraty; and the violence that too frequently befalls residents of Brazil’s impoverished favelas. 

While Becoming Brazil was in production, a fire destroyed the Brazilian National Museum, destroying countless artifacts in the world’s largest archive of indigenous Brazilian culture and history. For the team at MĀNOA and guest editors Eric M. B. Becker and Noah Perales-Estoesta, “this volume took on added significance … and became a project in which to represent—through the voices of writers—the resilience of the country’s diverse people, its long history, and what Brazil is still becoming.”

Explore this exciting new issue, including the work of acclaimed Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Continue reading “Becoming Brazil: New Fiction, Poetry, and Memoir (MĀNOA 30:2)”

AWP 2019: Join Manoa and The Contemporary Pacific for Translation Panel

The Contemporary Pacific and Manoa at AWP 2019Two journals celebrate their 30th anniversary this yearMĀNOA and The Contemporary Pacific—and join together for two great events at the 2019 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Portland, OR.

The conference brings together more than 12,000 attendees over four days. Mark March 29, 2019 on your calendars to catch these panel discussions.  Continue reading “AWP 2019: Join Manoa and The Contemporary Pacific for Translation Panel”

Support MĀNOA’s Upcoming Title, Becoming Brazil

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”3_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.17.6″]

The team at MĀNOA has just launched two ways to support the longstanding journal of international writing. Supporters can back the upcoming issue, Becoming Brazil, through Kickstarter and also pledge support for the journal overall through Patreon.

Support Becoming Brazil on Kickstarter

Becoming Brazil Manoa 30-2 Front CoverBecoming Brazil: New Fiction, Poetry, and Memoir is the forthcoming title from MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing. The issue includes more than two dozen works by canonical twentieth-century Brazilian writers, innovative contemporary authors, and new voices, many of them in translation for the first time.

Authors include Conceição Evaristo, Marcílio França Castro, Milton Hatoum, José Luiz Passos, and João Guimarães Rosa. Becoming Brazil also features images by celebrated photographers Sebastião Salgado and Marcio Rodrigues. Guest-edited by Eric M. B. Becker (founder of Words without Borders) and MĀNOA contributing editor Noah Perales-Estoesta, Becoming Brazil will appear in a handsome print edition from the University of Hawai‘i Press, a digital edition through Project MUSE; and an ebook through Amazon.com.

Learn how to support Becoming Brazil on Kickstarter.

Support MĀNOA through Patreon Continue reading “Support MĀNOA’s Upcoming Title, Becoming Brazil”

Words from the Fire: Poems by Jidi Majia (MĀNOA 30:1)

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”3_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.17.2″]

Bbahxa Ayuosse by Qubi Shuomo. Bbahxa Ayuosse by Qubi Shuomo.
This Nuosu ritual painting is of the magical python Bbahxa Ayuosse or Bbahxa Arrysse, one of the supernatural helpers of the Nuosu hero Zhyge Alu. Bbahxa Ayuosse by Qubi Shuomo. Object #1998–83/102—Scroll, Painting. Gift of the Blakemore Foundation, courtesy of Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington.

The new issue of MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, volume 30 number 1, is a collection of poems by Jidi Majia, translated by Jami Proctor Xu.

Jidi Majia is a member of the Yi ethnic minority group, one of the fifty-five officially recognized minorities in China and the sixth largest, comprising about nine million people. The subgroup to which Jidi Majia belongs, Nuosu, is the largest. For centuries Nuosu people have held on to their language, culture, and social structure, staving off assimilation by the majority Han.

This collection of more than 125 of Jidi Majia’s poems opens with an editor’s note and concludes with a translation of Jidi Majia’s speech for the 2017 Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival at Cambridge University. More than a dozen images featuring Nuosu scrolls and paintings accompany the poems. Continue reading “Words from the Fire: Poems by Jidi Majia (MĀNOA 30:1)”

Mountain/Home: New Translations from Japan (MĀNOA 29:2)

"Mount Fuji in the Spring." Norikane Hiroto. Etching, 1997.
“Mount Fuji in the Spring.” Norikane Hiroto. Etching, 1997. Gift of Philip H. Roach Jr., 2010 (31780). Courtesy of Honolulu Museum of Art.

The new issue of MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, volume 29 number 2, is a collection of Japanese literature in translation edited by Leza Lowitz and Frank Stewart.

From the editors:

Mountain/Home presents new translations of selected Japanese works from the medieval period to the present. The volume opens with traditional folktales, court poetry, Edo Period poetry, and contemporary fiction—all from “One Hundred Literary Views of Mount Fuji,” a collection of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction related to Japan’s national symbol. The works reveal how Japanese attitudes toward Mount Fuji have changed over time, particularly after the country was opened to the West in the nineteenth century.

Table of Contents

One Hundred Literary Views of Mount Fuji: Mount Fuji has been celebrated by poets, novelists, and playwrights for almost 1,500 years, from Japan’s earliest literary works to the present. Peter MacMillan provides these translations and introductions.

  • The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter: Taketori Monogataria tenth-century tale, recounts the origin of Mount Fuji’s name and is one of the earliest examples of Japanese literary fiction.
  • Love Song and Reply: These poems are from the Gosen Wakashū, a major tenth-century anthology of Japanese poetry. Many of the waka in the collection are “dialogue poems,” written in pairs by men and women of the court, speaking the cloaked language of secret love affairs, seductions, and laments.
  • from The Confessions of Lady Nijo: Lost for over six hundred years, Lady Nijo’s manuscript was discovered by a Japanese scholar in the Imperial Library in 1940.
  • A Tale of a Mount Fuji Cave: This story from the Kamakura Period tells of a journey to the mouth of hell and back.
  • Two Haiku by Matsuo Bashō: His poetry broke from the decadent style of the time, finding instead a resonance with nature, simplicity, spontaneity, and originality.
  • Sanshirō: In this excerpt from Natsume Soseki’s 1908 coming-of-age novel, the protagonist, Ogawa Sanshiro, is twenty-three years old.

Continue reading “Mountain/Home: New Translations from Japan (MĀNOA 29:2)”

The Female Spirit: Red Peonies in American Book Review (MĀNOA Vol. 28, Issue 2)

“The Female Spirit,” Diane Goodman’s review of MĀNOA special issue Red Peonies: Two Novellas of China (Vol. 28, Issue 2) appears in the May/June 2017 issue of the American Book Review.

American Book Review
Red Peonies reviewed in the May/June 2017 issue of American Book Review. Find issue on Project MUSE.

Red Peonies features two novellas, “The Woman Liu” and “The Woman Yang” by Chinese writer Zhang Yihe. The novellas were translated by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. Goodman writes:

The Woman Liu and The Woman Yang are compelling examinations of love, fear, sacrifice and survival, betrayal, compassion, manipulation, friendship, and trust and sometimes even a kind of redemption. But maybe most of all, Red Peonies: Two Novellas of China are a powerful testimony to the fortitude of the female spirit.

Goodman is the author of three short story collections and associate professor at Grand Canyon University. Learn about the American Book Review on their website, and find the review on Project MUSE.


Red Peonies: Two Novellas of ChinaMĀNOA is edited by Frank Stewart and Pat Matsueda.

Purchase Red Peonies as a book from UH Press or subscribe to MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing.

Browse full-text of Red Peonies online at Project MUSE.

#LookItUP: Free Speech and the Media in UHP Journals

 

upweekiconThis is Part 3 in a series of University of Hawai`i Press blog posts celebrating University Press Week and highlighting scholarship published by UH Press journals in the past year. Read our introductory blog post here. Our hope is that this series will shed new light on how UH Press “sells the facts,” so to speak, and the value our 24 journals bring to our very existence. Links to each journal and article are provided below.*


Free Speech and the Media

Red Peonies: Two Novellas of China

MĀNOA: A Pacific Journal of International Writing, Volume 28, Number 2, 2016
Special Volume: Red Peonies: Two Novellas of China, guest edited by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping

Context: Published twice a year, MĀNOA features contemporary literature from Asia and the Pacific, often in translation. Volume 28 includes the work of author Zhang Yihe, whose novellas were banned in China and appear here in English for the first time. Charged as a counter-revolutionary in China, Yihe based her stories on the people she met while sentenced to 21 years in a remote labor prison. In 2017, MĀNOA was awarded $10,000 grant to pursue new projects in Burma and Cambodia from the National Endowment of the Arts, which is currently under threat of discontinued federal funding.

cc

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review,Volume 6, Number 1, May 2017
Article: War Remembered, Revolution Forgotten: Recasting the Sino-North Korean Alliance in China’s Post-Socialist Media State” by Zhao Ma

Context: Scholar Zhao Ma explores the process of a nation’s remembering and forgetting the bloodshed and fervor behind a war—in this case, China’s involvement with North Korea—when it is recast through state-run media and propaganda.

 

Language Documentation & Conservation, Volume 11, 2017LDCposter2012LOW
Article: LD&C possibilities for the next decade” by Nick Thieberger

Context: As LD&C celebrates its 10th anniversary, editor Nick Thieberger takes a look at the journal’s downloads, Facebook following, and other statistics that have brought the open-access journal’s research to linguistics scholars across the globe, and wonders how new technology will change the field in the coming decade.

 

Oceanic LinguisticsVolume 56, Number 1, June 2017
Article:
Influence of Social Network on Language Use of Kejaman Speakers in Sarawak, Malaysia” by Amee Joan and Su-Hie TingOL56-1_cover1_blog

Context: This study on linguistics changes in Malaysia carries more weight than if it had been published in previous years. From the article’s introduction: “In our view, social network can be studied as a proxy of interlinked determinants of language maintenance or shift. Investigating the influence of social network on language choice would contribute to a holistic understanding of factors determining language shift.”

 

 

*Institutional access to online aggregators such as Project MUSE may be required for full-text reading. For access questions, please see the Project MUSE FAQ available here or contact your local library.


UHP-primarylogo-2cEstablished in 1947, the University of Hawai`i Press supports the mission of the university through the publication of books and journals of exceptional merit. The Press strives to advance knowledge through the dissemination of scholarship—new information, interpretations, methods of analysis—with a primary focus on Asian, Pacific, Hawaiian, Asian American, and global studies. It also serves the public interest by providing high-quality books, journals and resource materials of educational value on topics related to Hawai`i’s people, culture, and natural environment. Through its publications the Press seeks to stimulate public debate and educate both within and outside the classroom.

For more information on the University of  Hawai`i Press and our publications, visit www.uhpress.hawaii.edu. To receive table-of-contents email alerts for these publications, please click here to sign up at Project MUSE.

Manoa: A Conversation with Playwright Catherine Filloux

Watercolor drawings in this volume are by Camille Assaf, costume designer for the U.S. premiere of Lemkin’s House in 2006.

The following is excerpted from the new MĀNOA edition, Eyes of the Heart: The Selected Plays of Catherine Filloux (Vol. 29, No. 1).

For twenty-five years, Catherine Filloux has been writing plays about human rights and social justice. She has also been a spokesperson for the value of theater as a force for social change. She has given readings and workshops and overseen productions in Cambodia, Sudan, South Sudan, Iraq, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Italy, Belgium, and Bosnia. Her more than twenty plays and librettos have been produced in New York, across the U.S., and in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and her essays have appeared in such leading theater magazines as American Theatre and Drama Review.

Most recently, she was honored in New York City with the 2017 Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre. Her new play Kidnap Road was presented by Anna Deavere Smith as part of NYU’s Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue in 2016. For her long career of activism in the theater community, Filloux received the 2015 Planet Activist Award. Her play whatdoesfreemean?—about women and mass incarceration in the U.S.—will premiere in 2018, produced by Nora’s Playhouse. She is also the librettist for three produced operas—including Where Elephants Weep, which premiered in Cambodia—and has been commissioned by the Vienna State Opera to write the libretto for composer Olga Neuwirth’s new opera, Orlando, to premiere in 2019.

A former Fulbright senior specialist in Cambodia and Morocco, Filloux is an artist-in-residence at La MaMa Theatre, a member of the Vassar College faculty, and a cofounder of Theatre Without Borders.

The following conversation took place in July 2017.

MĀNOA: You’ve been writing plays for a long time. What in your background led you to concentrate on issues of human rights, social justice, and equality?

CATHERINE FILLOUX: French was my first language, and when I learned English I consumed it with joy. I grew up on the border between San Diego and Tijuana, and was very familiar with that border and with Mexico. My father grew up in France during the Nazi occupation when the country was split into zones. My mother’s French-Belgian-Corsican family lived in Algeria, North Africa, for three generations before her. I inherited the privilege of being a citizen of the world. And we were strangers in a strange land.

When I first went to Cambodia in 2001, it was almost a decade after I had begun writing about the genocide. What Cambodian women refugees had told me for years made it seem as if Pol Pot—his real name Saloth Sar—was in the room with us, though we were in Bronx, New York. Why did he do it? I wondered. Why were they now here, these women whom I grew to love, in this strange land, where they told me Spanish would be a better language to learn than English, since the Bronx was a Dominican neighborhood. And also Dominican were the Sisters who ran St. Rita’s Refugee Center in the Bronx, where we all met.

When I landed for the first time at the airport in Phnom Penh, I could feel the wandering ghosts, kmauit, as I got on the back of a moto and entered the sea of motos that formed the most extraordinary Zen flow of traffic I’d ever seen.

MĀNOA: You have had plays produced, held workshops, and spoken about theater and human rights all over the world. And Theatre Without Borders, which you cofounded, is devoted to supporting theater worldwide. How would you compare the ways that socially aware theater such as yours—dealing with very difficult social and legal issues—is received in some of the countries you’ve been to? What has been the reaction to these kinds of plays?

CF: I’ve experienced productions of my plays translated into languages including Arabic, Bosnian, French, Guatemalan Spanish, Khmer (Cambodian), and Kurdish, in a variety of international venues. I’m always struck by the flexibility that is required when a playwright crosses borders. In the U.S., a playwright’s words are not to be altered; however, I’ve found that compromise and having an open mind are key attributes. One lives in between languages, always hoping to find better connections and associations for translation and not always succeeding. However, this itself is part of that artistic process.

MĀNOA: Most of the plays in Eyes of the Heart deal with the unequal status of women, who are the main characters in all the works except Lemkin’s House—and there, women also figure prominently. Do you feel a responsibility to portray the global condition of women in your work, and do you think that too little attention has been given to women in theater, especially with regard to human rights?

CF: I wrote the play Mary and Myra in the year 2000, and in 2016 I saw a production in Salt Lake City, right before the presidential election. The timeliness of this story was apparent. History repeats itself. Plays may influence and offer the tools to help people make distinctions between truth and lies, and to nurture intellectual and emotional freedom. Myra Bradwell was written out of history by her adversary, Susan B. Anthony, and needed to be resurrected. And Mary’s reputation was maligned by biographers. Theater places stories in front of hearts and minds, as a sentient being, as an experience that is living and transforming. In my play, Mary Todd Lincoln says to Myra Bradwell, “I believe you mean well with your causes. But you fight so often with the opposite sex you’ve become it.” And Myra responds, “I have fought endlessly for justice, placing the law ahead of myself on every occasion, and they have ignored me, trampled on me, placed obstacle after obstacle in my path. I am furious! Give me the secret about your son.” When I saw Mary and Myra recently, I remembered how its first director commented that Myra’s lines sounded perhaps a bit too much like the playwright. I smiled to myself when I heard the play so many years later.

I read that Raphael Lemkin was home-schooled by his mother. This inspired me in writing the end of my play Lemkin’s House. Plays and theater can raise awareness regarding challenging subjects—creating a space for dialogue—and a commitment to the power of language and the power of healing. Theater can have a responsibility to foster civic discourse and to spark people to think critically. It can offer ethical queries and put marginalized communities onto center stage.

MĀNOA: War and violence are important issues in your plays. How are you able to put such large, difficult subjects on the stage, especially using so few actors? How does your passion for these subjects affect your daily life?

CF:  I see myself as a witness in my theater work. In terms of theatrical language, I like to design a kind of poetry, which lives and breathes through action and characters onstage. The poet Wallace Stevens says, “The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully.” The language of theater onstage and the audience are involved in a collaboration—a co-creation. I believe theater as an art form exists every time differently—it lives and breathes in a community. When Albert Camus, the French and Algerian author, says theater is, “The night when the game is played,” he means each time with a different outcome, like a sports match. And for me, theater pieces are prisms, which cast different lights for each audience member: everyone imagines and interprets the plays differently, which allows a shared personal experience.

MĀNOA: Thank you for your work.


Eyes of the Heart is a collection of six plays by award-winning playwright Catherine Filloux: Eyes of the Heart; Kidnap Road; Lemkin’s House; Mary and Myra; Selma ’65; and Silence of God. The plays have both national and international settings. Subjects include key figures in the history of human and civil rights; genocide; crimes against women; international human rights law; U.S. Civil Rights Movement; and Women’s Suffrage.

Browse this issue on Project MUSE. Order a single issue or receive this special issue as part of a subscription to Mānoa here.

Eyes of the Heart (MĀNOA 29:1)

Accompanying artwork in Eyes of the Heart: The Selected Plays of Catherine Filloux from Camille Assaf, a French and American costume designer for theater, dance, opera, and film, and lead design editor at Chance, a photography magazine that looks at the world through the lens of theatrical design.

Eyes of the Heart presents six of Catherine Filloux’s plays.

Playwright, librettist, teacher, lecturer, and activist Catherine Filloux has been writing plays about human rights, social justice, and individual freedoms for over twenty years. Her plays often incorporate actual people and events, but are never merely biographical. By reimagining real-life characters and situations—employing temporal shifts, dreams, hallucinations, soundscapes, and other theatrical techniques—she explores the characters’ thoughts and emotions as they struggle with moral and ethical dilemmas, resist evil while searching for goodness, and react to assaults on human dignity. Her plays also question the fallibility of our collective memory, and the ways our interpretations of the past change and become distorted over time.

— From Editor’s Note

The following notes provide some historical background to the plays: Continue reading “Eyes of the Heart (MĀNOA 29:1)”