Born in Volcano, Hawai'i, and raised on the island and in California, Garrett Hongo is a groundbreaking poet, memoirist, and editor who stands at the fountainhead of Asian American arts and letters. His work persistently explores the dynamic between person and place, the songs belted from a labored life, the chorus belted from an ever-evolving community. The Open Boat, a poetry anthology he edited in 1993, appeared in the infancy of Asian American poetry and changed the way readerships understood that body, the way Asian American poets understood what their individual and collective poetry might become.
Hongo's own poetry, including the seminal collections The Yellow Light (1982), The River of Heaven (1988), the latter the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets, pushed similar boundaries, redefining the terrain of Asian American poetics. His most recent collection is Coral Road (2011). He is also the author of Volcano: a Memoir of Hawaii (1996). His numerous awards include fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches at the University of Oregon, where he was the first-ever Asian American director of a Creative Writing Program, serving from 1989 to 1993.