Winter Woods

My Journey into Tanka

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“I shall live here and now,” I told myself. To say this is easy, but to practice it every day is difficult. I walked and walked and walked; and I have finally come this far. I realized that we are alone after all. And life is a continuous journey. . . . Living in Japan, America, and Guam have provided me with many experiences that led me to think about the components of my daily life. During this time, writing tanka has become an important part of my life. Without writing tanka, I probably could not have survived in the world of academia. A well-known Japanese movie director said that laughter and seriousness are the two most important themes for his work, because these are essentially connected to life and death. The point is not just to live, but to live well. “Living well” is the hardest assignment for all of us enrolled in the school called Life. I think of “memento mori.” Both tasks (that is, to live well and to die well) motivate me to write tanka: to continue my journey in the woods of experiences and moments of connection that I will carry with me in the form of tanka. This book includes selected, representative tanka poems and short essays from each of my recent books.


Yukiko Inoue-Smith


Yukiko Inoue-Smith, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Guam, has been extensively involved in work with tanka. Many of her tanka poems have received awards. She has been contributing her tanka to a local newspaper since 2011. Her recent tanka books include: Was It All A Dream?; and The Inescapable Seasons of Life.

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JustFiction Edition


Tanka, Japanese poetry, American tanka, English Tanka

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ART / General