The University of Wisconsin Press

Multicultural Literature / Women's Studies

Ono Ono Girl's Hula
Carolyn Lei-lanilau

If you think you know something about what multiculturalism means in real life, read Carolyn
Lei-lanilau and think again.

Both playful and serious, this audacious riff on ethnic and sexual identity by Hawaiian-Hakka Chinese-American writer Carolyn Lei-lanilau revolves around the persona she calls "Ono Ono Girl," an icon that interweaves and transcends Lucille Ball, Little Lulu, Tina Turner, and Spottie Dottie. Challenging assumptions about genre and gender, and acting out the notion that language is a function of the body, these essays are transforming soundbytes of Ono Ono Girl inventing herself.

"Just when you thought American literature was canonized and commodified beyond saving, Carolyn Lei-lanilau's intertextual, irreverent work, Ono Ono Girl's Hula, brings language and philosophy back to the table. Her book is a miracle delivery: a rebirth of poetry, Third World Spam, and love wrapped around the hybrid vigor of Hawaiian, Hakka, French, Latin, and English. Soulful, powerful, and wise."
—Russell Leong, editor of Amerasia Journal

"A book enjoyable equally for its fun as for its profundity, Carolyn Lei-lanilau's Ono Ono Girl's Hula is irresistible must reading for feminists, anthropologists, contemporary culture buffs, and anyone who wants a refreshing take on some of our more vexing current disputes. Down-to-earth and poetic, serious and hilarious at once, her unconventional voice invites the reader to understand the paradoxes of identity—sexual and ethnic—in new ways."
—Robin Lakoff, author of Talking Power

Carolyn Lei-lanilau is a poet, artist, and scholar who lives in Oakland, California, and in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Her book Wode Shuofa (My Way of Speaking) received a 1989 American Book Award. Her poems have been anthologized in five books, including The Best American Poetry of 1996, and have appeared in such journals as The Bloomsbury Review, The American Poetry Review, Manoa,Yellow Silk, Zyzzyva, and Calyx. She has been a lecturer at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and at West O'ahu, Tianjin Foreign Language Institute in China, and California State University, East Bay.

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cover of Ono Ono is bright, with tropical flowers and a photo of a Hawaiian woman in a photo frame

October 1997
196 pp.   6 x 9  

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Paper $17.95 t
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The cloth edition, ISBN 978-0-299-15630-5 is out of print.

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