Frank Stewart

Editor Frank Stewart, who proposed the creation of MĀNOA with fellow professor Robert Shapard in 1987, is an award-winning writer who recently published a new volume of poetry, Still at Large.

Fellow translator, editor, and essayist Alok Bhalla writes about the book for the online journal The Beacon:

His early work, for which he won the Whiting Award, is inspired by his vast reading of Thoreau and the ecological imagination and his abiding interest in two crucial questions: How does one define a moral imagination and its concern for the pain of others who are different and what is the responsibility people have toward all sentient and non-sentient beings? I am fascinated by this new volume of poems by Frank, Still-at-Large (Berkeley, California: El León Literary Arts, 2021), because it refuses to let us forget that since the beginning of the 20th century we, in India and elsewhere, have been living in times of relentless and unashamed national, religious or economic violence; that killers have walked our city streets and villages without remorse and with the confidence that there is no law which can prosecute them. Frank does so with the minimum of words surrounded by blank white spaces. This method of printing forces us to pay attention, even it is only for a moment, to the voices of those who have suffered and survived. It also leaves us bewildered when we are confronted with the heartlessness of those who kill remorselessly. Of course, as those of us who are familiar with either Coleridge’s, ‘The Ancient Mariner’, Paul Celan’s, ‘Death Fuge’ or Yevtushenko’s, Babi Yar’ know, poetry or speech of such remembrance brings no relief, clarity or consolation and yet must be uttered. In his note to me Frank says: “I don’t know how we can write about suffering. Perhaps no one does. But I think that we cannot avoid writing about it, even in a way that ultimately fails, as all our efforts must.’ It is this refusal to stay silent, to speak about the atrocious, however briefly, which makes these poems worth reading and commenting upon.

Frank is the author of five books of poetry and editor of eight anthologies. His edited books concern the literature and environment of Asia and the Pacific and include Talk Story: An Anthology of Hawaii’s Local Writers (1978), Wao Akua: The Sacred Source (2003), and The Poem Behind the Poem: Translating Asian Poetry into English (2004). He has received the Whiting Writers’ Award, Elliott Cades Award for Literature, and Hawai‘i Governor’s Award for Literature.

After heading the journal for thirty years, Frank will be leaving this summer. All readers of MĀNOA owe him a debt that cannot be paid, and for that we thank him.

Pictured is Frank at the celebration held when he retired from teaching in 2017.