National PBS Documentary Features Local Efforts to Perpetuate Hawaiian Language

What does it take to save a language? Poet Bob Holman travels across the globe to uncover answers – including a stop in Hawaii to feature ongoing efforts to perpetuate our native language. Language Matters with Bob Holman makes its Hawaii broadcast premiere Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. on PBS Hawaii. language matters

Filmed around the world, the two-hour documentary features Hawaii in the third of three acts. Among those featured: Puakea Nogelmeier (pictured in attached photo with Holman), Pele Harman (pictured in attached photo with students from Ke Kula O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u), Kauanoe Kamana, Larry Kimura, Kepa Maly, W.S. Merwin, Lolena Nicholas, Keali‘i Reichel and Kau‘i Sai-Dudoit.

Holman makes two other global stops:

  • In Australia, Holman visits Charlie Mangulda, an Aboriginal songman (poet), who is the only person left on the planet who speaks Amurdak. With linguist Nick Evans, Holman also flies to Goulburn Island off the coast of Northern Australia, where he meets a community of 400 people speaking ten languages, many endangered, all vulnerable.
  • In Wales, Holman explores the humor, rage and lyricism of the Welsh people, who brought their language back from the edge of extinction. Currently, three million people live in Wales and speak the native language.

Language Matters with Bob Holman is a co-production of David Grubin Productions Inc. and Pacific Islanders in Communications. For more information, visit the film’s website:

PBS Hawaii Presents “A Conversation with America ’s Poet Laureate: W.S. Merwin”

Program Will Premiere for Hawaii Audiences Thursday, February 24th at 8:30PM Before Airing on PBS Stations Across the Country

Media Release:

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and longtime Maui resident W.S. Merwin is America ’s Poet Laureate.  This honor had never been bestowed upon a Hawaii resident; let alone a writer who wants to be known as a Hawaii poet.  True to this conviction, Mr. Merwin insisted on presenting himself to the world from Hawaii with an interviewer from Hawaii .


Leslie Wilcox talks story with Mr. Merwin

PBS Hawaii CEO and veteran journalist Leslie Wilcox spoke with Mr. Merwin at his lush, secluded home on Maui ’s northern coast, where he and his wife Paula cultivate one of the world’s largest collections of endangered palm trees.

Flowing through the hour-long program,  produced by PBS Hawaii,  are readings from his work and his thoughts about poetry, literature, the power of words, Hawaiian myth and values, conservation, the future of mankind and much more.  In the end, a never-before-seen portrait of the man and the artist emerges.


Merwin's garden

Merwin is the seventeenth United States Poet Laureate.  He has published 26 collections of poetry and received numerous honors and awards in a career that spans more than six decades.

William Stanley Merwin was born in New York City in September of 1927, the son of a strict Presbyterian minister. He was raised in New Jersey and Pennsylvania .  As a child, he listened to and was moved by the language of the King James Version of the Bible and the children’s poetry his mother often read to him. With a gift for languages, he graduated from Princeton University in 1948, and then traveled, living for many years, alternately, in Europe and the United States .

In 1976, Merwin moved to Hawaii to study Buddhism with the revered Zen master, Robert Aitken.  Besides being a widely read poet and accomplished literary translator, Merwin is also recognized for his commitment to the environment.  For the last thirty five years the Hawaiian Islands have been Merwin’s home.

Because Merwin wishes to be represented to the world through this interview, selections from it will also be made available to media outlets around the globe.

Maui Resident Appointed Next US Poet Laureate

W.S. Merwin, who was appointed the next US poet laureate today, couldn’t get any less Washington. The 82-year-old Zen Buddhist lives in a rainforest in Hawaii, where he spends much of his time nurturing endangered plants.

Merwin’s poems, which he still composes in longhand, are spare, unpunctuated, and ethereal. Often limning the immutability of nature and the deficiencies of human language, they owe more to Asian and Latin American poets, many of whose work Merwin has translated, than to Beltway favorites such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Frost…

More Here: New Poet Laureate’s Unusual Washington Roots