Writer and editor Matthew Dekneef is a fierce champion of authentic storytelling. As a longtime contributor to the local arts and culture publications Flux Hawai‘i and Lei, Matt is devoted to challenging stereotypes about Hawai‘i and cultivating nuanced narratives on subjects such as Native Hawaiian culture, multi-ethnicity, and queer identity.
“I hope to see a Hawai‘i defined and complicated by local storytellers.”
Driven to share diverse mo‘olelo (stories) about his home and community, Matt recently pivoted to serving that calling in a new medium as a recipient of the inaugural Susan M. Haas Fellowship, a program founded by Emmy Award-winning writer Cord Jefferson that helps journalists develop a portfolio of original TV pilots. Naturally, the Kamehameha Schools graduate has been crafting storylines set in Hawai‘i, conceiving dynamic local characters, and depicting his homeland in all its rich complexity.
On writing days, Matt heads to Kaimukī, a cozy neighborhood near Diamond Head, where inspiration abounds in cafes, mom-and-pop shops, eclectic retailers, and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Here are a few of his favorite local spots:
Bean About Town
3538 Wai‘alae Avenue
Specialty coffee shop that offers European-style fare and roasts its signature single-origin South American beans on site.
da Shop: Books + Curiosities
3565 Harding Avenue
Community bookstore that hosts literary events and carries a diverse selection of best sellers, international titles, and locally published books focused on Hawai‘i and the Pacific.
3458 Wai‘alae Avenue
Casual eatery helmed by celebrated local chef Ed Kenny and guided by the mantra, “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.”
You can check out some of Matt’s past writing for Flux Magazine or follow his current journey on Instagram @mattdknf