Kristiana Kahakauwila is the author of This is Paradise: Stories (Hogarth, 2013), a Barnes & Noble Discover selection. She is an associate professor of creative writing at Western Washington University and was a 2015–16 Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study. Her most recent work has appeared in Kartika Review, Mistake House, and RED INK: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities. She is working on a multi-generational historical novel set on the island of Maui.
From the Introduction
In the first Ms. Aligned anthology, I noticed a theme of beloved-ness. In my afterword, I asked: “How could any of us have planned to love these men—real men, imagined men—so much that we would memorialize them on paper? How could we have ever foreseen understanding them as we do, even if that understanding comes from writing them?”
In this second anthology, there arises, for me, a twinned notion: that it is impossible to know every depth of another; and yet, from the desire to bridge that unknowing springs tenderness, growth, and beauty. We can never completely know someone, and yet we must keep trying to.
In Ms. Aligned 2, this theme appears in delightful, unexpected ways. A Sasquatch leaves his “prints in mud” in hopes that a woman he once saw will believe in him; a friend of a fisherman’s son listens to stories that reveal and conceal in equal measure; an apprentice shaman spends years listening to nothing in the belief he will one day connect with spirits. In Sion Dayson’s story “Metal Man,” the narrator says to a woman with whom he’s falling in love that he thinks “maybe we’re just too different. It’s not going to work out.” But then the narrative turns. The story is not about their difference, nor even really about the potential for their relationship, but about something else—artistic endeavor and discovering the depths of one’s self. In each of these stories and poems, it’s the reaching out, the trying to understand, that creates the emotional center of the piece.