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My favorite genre of nonfiction is that of the personality sketch: telling the story of a fascinating life, one that has made a difference. This might be biography, as in my book The Natives Are Restless. Or it might be a published profile or even a vignette filed away for another time.

Here are some of the pieces I’m most proud of:

In “W. S. Merwin ’48: A Poet and Gardener and a Modern-Day Thoreau,” I had the honor of reflecting on the life of my favorite poet and fellow Princetonian. In the Princeton Alumni Weekly

Civil rights photographer Matt Herron is profiled in "Mississippi Eyes," in the Princeton Alumni Weekly. The story title borrows from his book, which remembers the summer of 1964.

“The Altruist” tells the story of Steve McNamara, whose commitment to the San Quentin News changed the lives of countless incarcerated men. In the Princeton Alumni Weekly 

“Giving Voice” celebrates the cultural figure John Keola Lake, a teacher, priest, and unforgettable chanter. It ran in Honolulu magazine.

Some of my favorite profiles, written for Hana Hou!, the magazine of Hawaiian airlines, are no longer available online. I’ve posted PDFs if you’re interested in reading about Hawaiian guitarist Led Kaapana and hula doyenne Aunti Mae Klein. My favorite profile might have been “The Man Behind the Murals” about Jean Charlot – as a young painter in Paris, a muralist in Mexico City, a graphic artist in New York, and a cultural icon in Hawai‘i.

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