Practicing Poetic Analysis with Native Hawaiian Poetry



  • Develop an introductory knowledge and understanding of Native Hawaiian history, culture, literary traditions, and identity.
  • Be able to identify rudimentary poetic elements: (speaker, form, imagery, figurative language, sound).
  • Conduct basic literary analysis on a piece of poetry.
  • Be able to identify the similarities and differences between two pieces of poetry.
  • These objectives will be completed all as a means to help students understand the distinction between various cultures and their contributions to literature whilst developing rudimentary literary analysis skills.


This lesson surveys the work of two contemporary Native Hawaiian poets, Jamaica Osorio and Donovan Kūhiō Colleps. Students will be working to analyze two poems, “Kāhulu” by Donovan Kūhiō Colleps and Jamaica Osorio’s “Kumulipo”. Students will receive a brief lesson on Hawaiian culture and history with a specific focus on Native Hawaiian perspectives. The lesson will explain the importance of ancestral preservation, the significance of family, the preservation and protection of nature, and the impact of colonialism and the U.S annexation of Hawaii. These themes will be explored in the literary analysis of the poems, which will be guided through a supportive annotation process and guided questions.

Setting Classroom Norms:
Establish classroom norms that include accountability, understanding, and compassion. Utilize listening circles (optional) or restorative circles in order to create a welcome, inclusive environment. Take consideration of Native Hawaiian students present in the classroom.


  1. Where in Kumolipo’s text do you see themes of family and ancestry?
  2. What kind of tone and persona did the speaker take on in her oral presentation?
  3. What kinds of sounds can you identify in the poem? What is the speaker’s purpose in putting certain phrases together, or saying something with specific intention?
  4. What impact do colonialism and language erasure have on the speaker?
  5. How does each poem function to celebrate Native Hawaiian roots?


Lesson plan created in partnership with Diversify Our Narrative