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.