Frances Kakugawa, who currently resides in Sacramento, was born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii in Kapoho, which was demolished by lava when she was 18 years old. She has taught for many years in the Michigan and Hawaii public school systems; conducted language arts workshops for teachers in Micronesia and in Hawaii; and was a curriculum writer and lecturer for the University of Hawaii.
In 2002, she was recognized in the Living Legacy: Outstanding Women of the 20th Century in Hawaii book. In 2004 she was the deserved recipient of the Hawaii Publishers Association award for excellence in children's books for bringing her character Wordsworth to life in Wordsworth the Poet. Among her other accolades:
• Northern California Publishers & Authors - Best Illustrated Children’s Book; Mom’s Choice Award: Wordsworth Dances the Waltz
• Northern California Publishers & Authors - Best Non-Fiction: Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii
• Hawaii Pacific Gerontological Society: Communications/Arts Category Award for work with the elderly
• California Writers’ Club - Award-winning short stories Haole Style, One Time ‘nuff and You’re Going to Hell
Today, she continues to write, conducts writing support groups for caregivers, gives writing workshops for adults and children, and gives lectures on caregiving and writing throughout the U.S.
Among the mountains and clouds
Just a tiny speck, obscure and small
yet I exist. I exist.
- "White Ginger Blossom", 1971
One particular year I'd found myself in love and, caught up in the better spirits of the Christmas holiday season, placed a Christmas tree in the middle of my busy living room. I wanted this venerable symbol of celebration to not just fill my living room but pervade the whole house.
By the end of December the love affair was over.
Later, driving home on a country road, I saw a large tree and thought "This pain would be gone if that tree moved in front of my car." The tree never moved, and out of nowhere, I began to write poems about my pain. To be vengeful I recorded the poems on tape and sent them to him. After a while, I looked at my poems and thought, "Why waste these poems?"
The first publisher sent the editor's comment: "These poems need to be saved." And the rest is history. Within less than a year, my 2nd book was out and two more books followed soon after. I still wonder, "Where did these poems come from? Did I really write them?" And I have never stopped, thanks to that tree that never moved.