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Author(s): Poems by Yukiko Inoue-Smith, Illustrations by Omron Monroe Soto
0pp  August  2017
  • ISBN: (Ebook)  1-934502-25-1 USD $80.00
  • ISBN: ( Print)  1-934502-25-1 USD $100.00
Author Information


The quiet intensity of Yukiko Inoue-Smith’s poetry can be startling for the unsuspecting reader. The gracefully crafted words insinuate themselves into the psyche and then shock with their brutal honesty, which I find very refreshing.

She brings that same quality of honesty to all her endeavors whether artistic, professional or personal. I first met Yukiko as a student in a class she was teaching at the University of Guam. Our mutual passion for poetry brought us together for readings of poetry on the radio and performing at various events on Guam. I was honored when she asked me to guest lecture for one of her classes where I examined the similarities of her tanka with the ghazals of the Persian poet Rumi. Both poets have the gift of evoking love, longing, joy, and melancholy in their readers.

In her new collection that draws on previously published tanka, I am happy to rediscover personal favorites and new poems with lines that can be simultaneously uplifting and deflating, refined and raw, mundane and intimate, solid and ephemeral:

Do we long to escape

Because we cannot

Or do we lack

The courage to escape

Even though we can?


Sitting in front

Of a night mirror

At the day’s end

I remove my mask

Of strength



At midnight

Cutting my toenails

I think of love

Which is likely but



Love and hatred burn

Like a flame in the deepest

Core of my being

Causing me to bathe

In the middle of the day


As if they knew

The supreme bliss of time

Cherry blossoms

Gracefully open

Then are gone


Inoue-Smith’s poems are best read slowly so as to savor the images and feelings that will certainly be aroused.  The images of the natural world and descriptions of psychological mind states take the reader on a visceral journey of beauty and human need that is at once acknowledged and appreciated as very familiar territory. The vulnerability revealed through her poetry will give the reader a profound sense that they are not alone.

Omron Monroe Soto’s illustrations add a satisfying surreal quality to Inoue-Smith’s tanka. It is a pleasure to savor the illustrations and then the words in this artistic offering certain to delight and intrigue.


Olympia Terral

Yoga Instructor/Yoga Therapist



Yukiko Inoue-Smith, PhD, is a Professor in the Faculty of the School of Education at the University of Guam, where she teaches educational psychology and research. She has been extensively involved in work with tanka, which is Japan’s oldest poetry genre. While presenting and promoting tanka at professional conferences and workshops, she has written her own tanka poems, which have been published regionally, nationally, and internationally. Many of her tanka poems have received awards. She has also taught a course in tanka poetry in the University’s Language and Literacy Program. In Guam, she has participated in a variety of poetry events and activities, including contributing her tanka poems to a local weekly newspaper, Guam Shinbun. Her tanka books recently published include: “Was it all a dream?”; “Cat tanka, vol. 1”; “Cat tanka, vol. 2”; and “The shape of love.” Just as strong her passion for teaching and research as a college professor, she considers poetry an equally important element of her life’s work.


Omron Monroe Soto is a growing Guam-based artist and a Fine Arts graduate from the University of Guam. He started his art training in realism when he took private lessons with a Filipino master artist, Romeo Ballada, in the Philippines. He came to Guam in 2006 and started to study at the University as a biology major but changed his major after two years because of his passion for art. Guam has accepted him fully, and he has dedicated himself to including Guamanian elements in his works of art, promoting Guam’s beauty and culture. He was inspired by the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Rembrandt, in addition to the works by modern artists such as Kirsty Mitchell, Matthew Albanese, and A. J. Fosik. His overall style consists of traditional style paintings incorporating contemporary ideas and rules of photography, resulting in non-typical island illustrations. He also does conceptual photography and costume designing on the side.


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