The Center for Biographical Research is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Biography Prize for outstanding creative, critical, or theoretical work in the field of life writing by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa graduate students.
This year, we awarded one prize to Adrian Alarilla for a scholarly work of life writing, and another to Christina Lee and Kayla Watabu for their creative work. More detailed descriptions of the projects and the judges’ comments appear below.
“Passionate engagements, intimate entrapments: Love, war, and those caught in between empire and nation” by Adrian Alarilla
The prize committee found “Passionate engagements, intimate entrapments: Love, war, and those caught in between empire and nation” to be an accomplished scholarly study of four autobiographical documentaries by Filipinx filmmakers. The committee noted the excellence of the research, the historical contextualizing, the analysis of the films, the clearly articulated argument, and the essay’s compelling political stakes.
“Kill Your Darlings” by Christina Lee
The prize committee found “Kill Your Darlings” to be a stunning work of life writing. They noted that it was beautifully written, imaginatively constructed, honest, bold in its exploration of the traumatic effects of sexual violence, and beautiful in its telling of the journey to healing and self-acceptance. The committee expressed appreciation for how elegantly this piece interweaves personal narrative, art, history, and literature as the author reflects on the limitations of linear storytelling.
“Silence as Stories: The Hidden Possibilities in Silence” by Kayla Watabu
The prize committee found “Silence as Stories: The Hidden Possibilities in Silence” to be an accomplished and sensitively written work of life writing. They expressed admiration for how the essay weaves together scholarship and personal narrative as it explores the linguistic and cultural significance of silence in Kanaka, Japanese, and Chinese contexts, while also exploring issues of intergenerational trauma, and the importance of stories.