“I will not hold my breath... /because there is a singing in everything” – Leialoha Apo Perkins, How the ‘Iva Flies, 2003

“Art is the clothing of a revelation” – Joseph Campbell, 1990

“Art is the soul breathing” – Emilio Soltero, 2002

Poetry began as chant – the first music human beings created. My poems reach back to chant. I know a poem is ready when it can be chanted. Rather than writing in a five-beat line (e.g., iambic pentameter) that has dominated poetry in English since Shakespeare, I write primarily in the three- and four-beat line lengths characteristic of and natural to the indigenous languages that are the foundation of English, such as Angli and Saxon. Similarly, in the lines of many of my poems, primary stress comes on the first syllable rather than second syllable of words.

Poetry publications: books

Love Letters - Under, Over, and Diagonally

Love Letters - Under, Over, and Diagonally




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Leialoha Apo Perkins Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo

Love Letters Under, Over, and Diagonally, by Leialoha Apo Perkins and Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo, is a powerful extended song of love and loss sung by two voices. We are told that the inspiration for this sequence was a specific loss suffered by Watson-Gegeo, and, as the two singers elaborate a rolling rhetoric of grief and longing, the poem becomes a beautiful lamentation that sometimes soars above the loss by means of allusion and universal memory, and sometimes closely explores painful particulars. At times, especially towards the end, the poems of Perkins become grandly compelling Greek chorus commentaries on Watson-Gegeo's more personal sufferings. The play of the two voices carries us urgently forward, making us want to see the difficulties to their ends. This is an exciting and unusual collaboration by two gifted poets. 			- Joseph Stanton, Associate Professor of Art and Art History, University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, Honolulu, author of four books of poetry, several nonfiction books, and winner of the Cades Award and the Ka Palapala Poʻokela Award for excellence in literature; his most Whether under, over, or diagonally, these love letters speak straight from the heart to our souls.  As the moon drifts west, hoʻopuka i ka lā mai ka hikina (the sun rises/bursts forth from the east).         - Suzanne Romaine, Merton Professor of English Language, Oxford University, leading sociolinguist, expert on Pidgin/Creole languages and bilingualism, author and winner (jointly with Daniel Nettle) of the 2001 British Association of Applied Linguistics Book of the Year award for Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World’s Languages (2000).   A fascinating blend of metaphysical and imagist styles, this thought-provoking epistolary collection of poems by award-winning author Leialoha Apo Perkins and scholar/poet Karen Watson-Gegeo, proves that, in the right hands, postmodern feminism and classical masculinism can indeed be combined to spin straw into gold. 			- Perle Besserman, Professor Emerita of English, Illinois State University, well-known feminist writer and comparative literature critic, recipient of the Theodore Heopfner Fiction Award, and Push-Cart Prize nominee; she is author of more than a dozen nonfiction books on Jewish mysticism and Zen Buddhism, and a novel; her latest story collection, Marriage and Other Travesties of Love, will soon be published by Cantarabooks.



The natural world of sky, sea, forest, fog and desert are the Silver Mirrors that are both windows into a deeper reality, and reflections of imaginings on the path to transformation of consciousness. Includes 25 poems, © 2003 by Chilam Balam Press, Silver Mirrors is beautifully illustrated by artist Emilio Soltero’s etching of a Mexicana farm worker walking through a field, and the fanciful calligraphy of Lia Solorio.  (Available from KW-G)

Two poems from Silver Mirrors:


it seems
that nothing is what it seems

and that is maybe why
what is
offers just a whisper of
what really is


she is
a solitary woman
in a field worker’s hat
her infant in a sling
safely against her body
barefoot in pesticided soil
she walks resolute between
perfectly contoured  furrows
towards a point beyond the horizon


among the imperial hills
of global capitalist production
rolling mile after mile
tenacity, sacrifice, pain
are mirrored in her being
a lifetime caught in a sketch
deepened by the artist’s touch
fingerprints across the heart


and she in calm resistance
will endure past empire’s end
as illumined by the morning sun
the glow of spirit presence
she walks into forever
in a cascade of golden light




 Silent They Are Lit, (© 2004, Chilam Balam Press), includes two sections: Silent They Are Lit, 23 poems on spiritual transformation; and Landscapes of the Soul, 28 poems on the wisdom that comes from lived experience. Emilio Soltero’s etching of a Mexicana farm worker harvesting vegetables on the front cover, and his monk meditating on the back cover underscore the two themes of the book.  Lia Solorio provides the calligraphy. (Available from KW-G)

Two poems from Silent They Are Lit:


is the soul breathing
into the deep
past the walls of distraction
we accidentally constructed
before we awoke
and having arrived
without moving
free and beautiful
on the out-breath of soul
the world is changed


love is all
and so i came
to love


nobody said
something would be given
nobody said
something would change


flicker of light
in silence


nobody said
there would be joy
nobody said


golden rain through sun
silver rain through stars


soul sacrifice
yet i came
love is all


Poetry publications: individual poems

causes and reasons”.  La Palabra  7,4, 2002, p. 8.

children of the affluent”.  La Palabra  7,4, 2002, p. 9.

“cirrus.Chilam Balam:  Journal of Visual and Written  Arts  6, Fall 2002/Winter 2003, p. 3.

end of summer vacation.”  Chilam Balam: Journal of Visual and Written Arts  6, Fall 2002/Winter 2003, p. 3.

white hawk flying: In Memory of Dan Moonhawk Alford.”  ReVision  26,4, 2004, p. 23.

Poems also appear in the following papers and publications:

2004 - “on 'Eclipse Puja' 8/17/04” DVD booklet for Eclipse Puja, Bagavan Das Chants '1000 Names of the Mother' with Jay Yarnall, Glasswing Productions.

2005 - “A Different World: Embodied Experience and Linguistic Relativity on the Epistemological Path to Somewhere…”  Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, 15, 2:1-23.

2005 - “Journey to the ‘New Normal’ and Beyond: Reflections on Learning in a Community of Practice.” The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18, 4:399-424.

2005 – “Invisible Illness, Invisible Violence: Situated Learning Contexts of Patient Communities at a Live-in Medical Clinic.”  Council on Anthropology Symposium “The Making of Meaning in Contexts of Violence: On the Interface of History, Power Structures, and Culture in Identity Formation Professes.”  American Anthropological Association Meetings, November 2005, Chicago.

2006 – Keynote Speech, “Finding a Path Through Silver Rain: Steps Toward an Anthropology of Conscience.”  Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (of the American Anthropological Association) International Conference, 13 April, Asilomar.