Navigating CHamoru Poetry: Indigeneity, Aesthetics, and Decolonization

University of Arizona Press, 2021

Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies


Navigating CHamoru Poetry focuses on Indigenous CHamoru (Chamorro) poetry from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). Poet and scholar Craig Santos Perez brings critical attention to a diverse and intergenerational collection of CHamoru poetry and scholarship. Throughout this book, Perez develops an Indigenous literary methodology called “wayreading” to navigate the complex relationship between CHamoru poetry, cultural identity, decolonial politics, diasporic migrations, and native aesthetics. Perez argues that contemporary CHamoru poetry articulates new and innovative forms of indigeneity rooted in CHamoru customary arts and values, while also routed through the profound and traumatic histories of missionization, colonialism, militarism, and ecological imperialism.

This book shows that CHamoru poetry has been an inspiring and empowering act of protest, resistance, and testimony in the decolonization, demilitarization, and environmental justice movements of Guåhan. Perez roots his intersectional cultural and literary analyses within the fields of CHamoru studies, Pacific Islands studies, Native American studies, and decolonial studies, using his research to assert that new CHamoru literature has been—and continues to be—a crucial vessel for expressing the continuities and resilience of CHamoru identities. This book is a vital contribution that introduces local, national, and international readers and scholars to contemporary CHamoru poetry and poetics.


“This book takes the reader on a transoceanic journey, ranging from Guåhan to the heart of the American empire and to the many seas that the poets of the CHamoru diaspora have sailed. Weaving together groundbreaking archival research, subtle literary analysis, and decolonial Indigenous methodologies, Craig Santos Perez demonstrates how CHamoru poets have transformed their experience of cultural colonialism into weapons of resistance. A must-read for everyone invested in fighting for decolonization, demilitarization, and Indigenous sovereignty.”

—Anaïs Maurer, author of Oceania First: Climate Warriors and Post-Apocalyptic Nuclear Stories

“As the first book-length study of CHamoru poetry, this is an essential resource for any student, scholar or general reader wishing to understand the formal properties of CHamoru literature, as well as the cultural and historical circumstances underpinning it. Craig Santos Perez is himself an internationally renowned CHamoru poet and offers valuable insights into a wealth of material by contemporary CHamoru authors, situating their work within centuries-long aesthetic and cultural traditions.”

—Michelle Keown, co-editor of Anglo-American Imperialism and the Pacific: Discourses of Encounter


For PDFs of essays, please visit my page


  • “ʻKāne and Kanaloa Are Coming’: Contemporary Hawaiian Poetry and Climate Change,” Postcolonial Literatures and Climate Change, forthcoming.
  • “Indigenous Human Rights and Chamoru Poetry from Guahan (Guam),” Human Rights and Global Indigenous Literature, forthcoming.
  • “Thinking (and Feeling) with Anthropocene (Pacific) Islands,” Dialogues in Human Geography, forthcoming.
  • “Black Lives Matter in the Pacific,” Ethnic Studies Review 43 (3), 2020: 34-38.
  • “Teaching Ecopoetry in a Time of Climate Change,” The Georgia Review, Fall 2020.
  • “The Ocean in Us”: Navigating the Blue Humanities and Diasporic Chamoru Poetry,” Special Issue (“World Literature and the Blue Humanities”), Humanities, 2020, 9(3), 66.
  • “The Chamorro Creation Story, Guam Land Struggles, and Contemporary Poetry,” Special Issue (“Indigenous Narratives on Territory and Creation”), English Language Notes 58:1, April 2020, pp. 9-20.
  • “APA: Reading Across the Acronym,” Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Literary Addresses, 2020
  • “Towards a New Oceania: On Contemporary Pacific Islander Poetry Networks.” Special Issue (“Poetry Networks”), College Literature, 47.1, Winter 2020, pp. 240-7.
  • “ʻThank God for the Maladjusted’: The Transterritorial Turn towards the Chamorro Poetry of Guahan (Guam).” Oceanic Archives, Indigenous Epistemologies, and Transpacific American Studies, edited by Otto Heim, Yuan Shu, and Kendall Johnson, Hong Kong UP, 2019, pp. 45-76.
  • “Native Chamorro Ecopoetry in the Work of Cecilia Perez.” Ecopoetics and the Global Landscape: Critical Essays, edited by Isabel Campos, Rowman & Littlefield, 2019, pp. 34-67.
  • “from Organic Acts: Tsamorita, Rosaries, and the Poem of my Grandma’s Life.” Border Crossings: Essays in Identity and Belonging, edited by Paul Longley Arthur and Leena Kurvet-Kaosaar, Routledge, 2019, pp. 105-258.
  • “Guam and Archipelagic American Studies.” Archipelagic American Studies, edited by Brian Russell Roberts and Michelle Stephens, Duke UP, 2017, pp. 124-148.
  • “ʻI Lina’la’ Tataotao Ta’lo’: The Rhetoric and Aesthetics of Militarism, Religiosity, and Commemoration.” Huihui: Pacific Rhetoric and Aesthetics, edited by Brandy Nalani McDougall, Georganne Nordstrom, and Jeff Caroll, U of Hawaiʻi P, 2015, pp. 50-71.
  • “Transterritorial Currents and the Imperial Terripelago.” Special Issue (“Pacific Currents”), American Quarterly 63.7, 2015, pp. 12-20.
  • “Singing forwards and backwards: Ancestral and Contemporary Chamorro Poetics.” The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature, edited by James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice, Oxford UP, 2014, pp. 152-166.
© , Craig Santos Perez | Visual design by Jai Arun Ravine