Local Writers Win Prestigious Elliot Cades and Loretta Petrie Awards for Literature

Four of the Islands’ most potent writers—Craig Santos Perez, Christy Passion, Darrell Lum and Eric Chock—are known for writing and publishing signature works that champion our regional histories and linguistic genius. Now they’re winners of the Elliot Cades and Loretta Petrie Awards.
Hawaii award-winning poets
Christy Passion and Craig Santos Perez were announced as winners of the most prestigious literary honor in Hawai‘i, the Elliot Cades Awards for Literature.
Photos: Courtesy of Christy Passion, Craig Santos Perez


You don’t need to fly to New York and pay $1,000 for a ticket to Hamilton to rock your world with short, punchy lines that don’t issue from a random Twitter account—just turn to the power and perseverance of Island poetry. Hawai‘i’s growing impact as a literary center was affirmed today (March 20) when exciting emerging writer Christy Passion and Craig Santos Perez, a nationally acclaimed poet and University of Hawai‘i Mānoa professor, were announced as winners of the most prestigious literary honor in Hawai‘i, the Elliot Cades Awards for Literature.


The annual laurels were announced along with a new honor, the Loretta D. Petrie Award for outstanding service to Hawai‘i’s literary community, which went for the first time to Darrell Lum and Eric Chock, writers, mentors and co-founders of Bamboo Ridge. Known for its championing of regional writers, especially those writing on local subjects, often in pidgin, the journal turns 40 next year, having shepherded often-ignored subject matter and modes of expression into the Hawai‘i mainstream. Many BR alumni are leading lights in their literary and teaching communities. 


Still Out of PlaceA critical care nurse, Passion is the author of Still Out of Place, her 2016 debut poetry collection; No Choice But to Follow, which links poems with three other poets; and a forthcoming full-length book, also linked with the same poets. What We Must Remember takes on the Massie Case from the point of view of various characters. All are Bamboo Ridge publications. She has received the James A. Vaughn Award for Poetry, the Atlanta Review International Merit Award and the Academy of American Poetry Award.


A native Chamorro from Guam, Perez is a poet, spoken word performer and publisher. His from unincorporated territory books of poetry—[haacha] in 2008, [saina] in 2010 and [guma’] in 2014—brought him a Lannan Award in 2016. He is the winner of the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. He co-starred in a 2011 album of “amplified poetry,” Undercurrent. A co-founder of Ala Press, he is an associate professor and director of the creative writing program at UH Mānoa. 


Coordinated by the Hawai‘i Literary Arts Council, the Cades and Petrie Awards will be given 11 a.m. Saturday, May 6, at the 12th annual Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival at the Honolulu Municipal Building grounds. Perez and Passion will also read from their works.