From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha]

By Craig Santos Perez


From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha] is a captivating poetry collection by Craig Santos Perez, a Chamorro poet from Guam. This work is part of a larger series where Perez delves deep into themes of identity, colonization, and the cultural history of the Pacific Islands. Through his vivid language and innovative form, Perez gives voice to the Chamorro experience, often overlooked in broader discussions of American and Pacific literature.

In this collection, Perez combines personal narrative with the historical and political context of Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States. The title Hacha means “one” in Chamorro, indicating the book’s position as the first in the series and its focus on foundational aspects of identity and place. 🌴📖

Meaning of From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha]

Opening Section The poem opens by setting the geographical and emotional landscape of Guam. Perez uses vivid imagery to draw readers into the physical space of the island while introducing themes of displacement and connection to land. For example, he writes about the enduring presence of the ocean and the enduring spirit of the island’s people, despite colonial influences.

Mid Section As the poem progresses, Perez shifts focus to the impact of colonization and modernization on Guam’s culture and environment. He juxtaposes traditional Chamorro practices with contemporary challenges, using a mix of Chamorro language and English to highlight cultural fusion and tension.

Concluding Section In the concluding parts, Perez offers a reflective, sometimes hopeful, sometimes critical view of the future. He calls for reclaiming identity and reinvigorating cultural practices, urging the Chamorro people to envision a future where they are the stewards of their narrative and land.

In-depth Analysis

In From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha], Craig Santos Perez crafts each stanza with careful attention to the layered experiences of living in a colonized space:

Stanza 1:

  • Technique: Use of indigenous language
  • Impact: Highlights cultural identity and resistance to erasure.

Stanza 2:

  • Technique: Vivid imagery of natural landscapes
  • Impact: Connects the reader to Guam’s physical beauty and its vulnerability.

Stanza 3:

  • Technique: Historical references and personal anecdotes
  • Impact: Blends personal history with collective memory, emphasizing the interconnectedness of personal and political histories.

This stanza-by-stanza breakdown reveals how Perez uses poetic form, language, and imagery to engage with themes of memory, identity, and resistance.

Poetic Devices used in From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha]

Alliteration“Sandy shores sing softly”
Assonance“Deep, green sea”
Consonance“Last light lingers little”
EnjambmentUse of lines that end without punctuation, encouraging flow to the next line
ImageryDescriptions of the lush landscapes and urban sprawl of Guam
Metaphor“Guam is a cradle of waves”
Personification“The ocean whispers old tales”
RepetitionRepeated use of “we are” to emphasize collective identity
SymbolismThe use of local flora and fauna as symbols of native culture
Synecdoche“Hands of land” to represent the whole of Guam’s people and their labors

From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha] – FAQs

Q: What themes are central to From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha]? A: Key themes include identity, decolonization, cultural heritage, and the impact of colonization on Guam and its people.

Q: How does Craig Santos Perez incorporate Chamorro language in the poem? A: Perez intersperses Chamorro terms throughout the poem, using them to highlight cultural identity and resistance to linguistic assimilation.

Q: What is the significance of the title From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha]? A: The title reflects the geopolitical status of Guam as an unincorporated U.S. territory and introduces themes of non-sovereignty and cultural fragmentation.

From Unincorporated Territory [Hacha] Study Guide

Exercise: Identify all the poetic devices used in the following verse: “Guam is a vessel of vast voices, Vines entangle with the vigor of our past, Echoing elders, echoing craft.”

Answer Key:

  • Alliteration: “Vast voices,” “Vines entangle,” “vigor of our past”
  • Assonance: “Echoing elders”
  • Imagery: The entire verse paints a vivid picture of Guam’s lush environment and rich cultural history.