Joe Balaz


Joe Balaz is a contemporary American poet of Hawaiian, Slovakian, and Irish descent. He was born and raised in Wahiawa on the island of O’ahu in Hawai’i, and over the course of 35 years he has composed an extensive body of work written in Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) as well as Standard English. Balaz is an innovative multimedia artist, emphasizing spoken word performances and frequently incorporating visual elements into his concrete poems. In 1998, Balaz released a collection of his Pidgin poetry set to music called Electric Laulau. The album has come to be considered a fundamental work in Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) literature. His collected Pidgin poetry was published in his 2019 book Pidgin Eye, disrupting traditional English conventions in poetry with his joyful celebration of native Hawaiian culture. Highly observant, humorous, and spiritual, Balaz’s poetry works to reclaim and decolonize Hawai’i’s place in mainstream literature. Balaz edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature and was the editor of the O’ahu Review from 1980 until 1997. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. 

In Dis Newfangled Oz

Da candidate’s hair

looked like da tail fins of wun ’57 Chevy


as he orated his position

wit tinsel and tingle


promising to improve everyting


including da empty refrigerator

to da kitchen sink.


Born wit wun king size

silver spoon in his mouth


and wun golden parachute

before he even got on da plane


da advantages of family wealth

endowed him wit wun cushy platform.



his message of opportunity foa all


wuz being swallowed down whole.


It’s all about class

and levels of influence


dat truly shapes da strategy


behind da big green curtain

in dis newfangled Oz.


Da wizard at da controls of da machine

wit his peripheral eyes on da status quo


has every intention

to keep da rich and powerful on top


while many below

are being compressed like coal


to feed da burning furnaces.


It’s only wun campaign wish

dat he would cater to da totem rather den da tower


and take da time to really see

all da faces beneath da penthouse view.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Humor & Satire



Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly; an indirect or passing reference


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