Saipan Dispatch #3: “Seasoned” on Saipan

Posted On: January 19, 2019

Seasoned Arrives on Saipan (updated Jan. 21)

This is a story of Seasoned and serendipity on Saipan. It began 15 months ago in Santa Fe, NM, where our Carolinian friends, Lino Olopai and Joe “Ping” Limes, came from Saipan to join our Peace Corps reunion. Lino and Ping returned to Saipan with copies of my book to bring to the Borja family.

Seasoned: A Memoir of Grief and GraceScroll ahead four months to January 2018 when I first heard feedback from a Saipanese friend about my book. Florence Kirby, an auntie of the Borja siblings, wrote that she thoroughly enjoyed Seasoned and was sharing it with family and friends. That was the beginning. Plans for Jody’s and my trip to Saipan came together in early December, and on January 3rd, we were on our way.

 

 

The Word Spreads

We arrived on Saipan on January 6. The Borja family welcomed/invited/insisted that Jody and I come to their novena festival for Three Kings’ Day (Epiphany) that same evening. While we were enjoying the delicious food, the conversation came around to this published author who’d come to visit from Canada and who’d written about the Borja family, the village of Oleai, and about their island. Several people showed interest: Rosa Borja had gotten one from her auntie Florence, but the typhoon wrecked her copy; two of her sisters had not read it yet; a couple of children looked at me and said, “Did you really write a book?”

Jody and I had brought along only five copies of Seasoned. Then someone suggested, “You should donate one of those copies to our library.” The idea made a lot of sense. I’ve donated copies to several places where I’ve lived, but had never thought about donating one on Saipan.

 

Two Radio Interviews

It seems the presence on the island of an old Peace Corps veteran from the 1960s who’d also written a book held a certain cachet for folks who remembered those times. Through Lino and Ping’s many friends and colleagues, I was able to take part in two radio interviews. You can read about the first one here. Right after that talk show on KKMP, I met Catherine Perry, Lino’s friend from the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, who wanted to interview Lino and me about the Peace Corps era on Saipan and to talk about Seasoned. Her show is called “Your Humanities Half-Hour.” I will post the link to that interview as soon as I get it.

The buzz about my book was as welcome as it was unexpected. But the best was yet to come.

 

Joeten-Kiyu (Saipan) Public Library

 

Saipan’s Public Library

Jody, Lino and I went straight to the library after the interview with Catherine to donate a copy of Seasoned. The library director, Erlinda Naputi, was very enthusiastic about the donation, and welcomed us warmly. She gathered together a dozen or so library staff and patrons to pose with Jody, Lino, and me for a photo to commemorate the occasion.

 

 

In the back row are Lino Olopai, library director Erlinda Naputi, Jody and me, holding a copy of my book.

 

 

Then she followed that up by ordering ten more copies for other libraries in the Northern Mariana Islands and for library presentations.

 

It was a very special day to not only be interviewed about the book, and pose for a photo but also to sell ten more books. Seasoned: A Memoir of Grief and Grace is now listed in the Saipan Public Library’s online catalog. The inventory on my home bookshelf continues to dwindle.