Honolulu CC professor earns literary award

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Eric Paul ShafferEric Paul Shaffer

A language arts associate professor from Honolulu Community College garnered an award at the 2019 Ka Palapala Poʻokela Book Awards.

Eric Paul Shaffer’s seventh volume of poetry, Even Further West, received honorable mention in the “Aloha from Across the Sea” category. The awards recognize work published in 2017 and 2018, and are administered by the Hawaiʻi Book Publishers Association. A total of 71 entries from 54 separate book projects were nominated in 11 categories.

“These poems are of a singular consciousness attending to the life around him with mindfulness and unsentimental appreciation,” said one of the three judges. “A master craftsman, Eric Paul Shaffer can turn the stuff of everyday Hawaiʻi life into the liturgy of our Island soul. His dedication to ‘making it new’ and even-tempered outlook offers the reader a crystal-clear view of Hawaiʻi landscapes and perspectives.”

Eric Paul Shaffer and Ron CoxEric Paul Shaffer with Ron Cox, President of the Hawaii Book Publishers Association

“I am a great proponent of place-based education, and the poems of Even Further West focus exclusively on Hawaiʻi as a means of exploring our place and grounding myself in the islands,” said Shaffer. “In the classroom, with place-based education, I interweave Hawaiian culture and language and themes of sustainability in a three-pronged approach to learning and teaching our students about where we are and how that affects who we are.”

Shaffer has authored seven collections of poetry and one novel, Burn & Learn: Memoirs of the Cenozic Era (2009). His work has appeared in more than 500 national and international reviews, journals and magazines and have earned multiple awards.

Interim Chancellor Karen Lee said, “We are proud of Dr. Shaffer for this well-deserved recognition. He represents one of the many highly talented faculty at Honolulu Community College who provide students with an engaging learning environment where they can thrive.”

Other Honolulu Community College faculty have received Ka Palapala Poʻokela Book Awards in previous years. Associate Professor Brenda Kwon won honorable mention for The Sum of Breathing in the “Literature” category in 2015. Assistant Professor Chris McKinney won the Award of Excellence twice for the Red-Headed Hawaiian in 2015 and Boi No Good in 2013.

All Ka Palapala Poʻokela Book Award winners can be viewed at the Hawaiʻi Publishers website.