Guest Post: Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken Angela Yuriko Smith’s Sneak Peek

  1. Guest Post: Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken Lee Murray’s Sneak Peek
  2. Guest Post: Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken Geneve Flynn’s Sneak Peek
  3. Guest Post: Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken Christina Sng’s Sneak Peek
  4. Guest Post: Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken Angela Yuriko Smith’s Sneak Peek

A preview of ‘Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken’

Angela Yuriko Smith


Tortured Willows—Bent. Bowed. Unbroken

Poetry by Christina Sng, Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, and Geneve Flynn


I’m delighted to present Tortured Willows, a collaborative collection of 60 poems exploring otherness, expectation, and tradition. 


What began as a deepening of the conversation based on the multi-award-winning anthology Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women became a discovery of a culture silenced and traded. This series of poems opened up a Pandora’s Box for me. I began by writing about how my grandmother lost her name (Yuriko) because Caucasians couldn’t pronounce it. As I scratched the surface of what it means to be Okinawan, or more accurately Uchinanchu, my world pivoted. This is not about a woman losing her voice, but a culture—a people—losing everything. 


With a foreword by dark fiction writer, poet, and historian, K.P. Kulski, the author of Fairest Flesh, and a stunning cover design by Kyra Starr, Tortured Willows released on Poetry Day, 7 October 2021, from Yuriko Publishing. Today, I’m excited to give readers of The Horror Tree an advance peek of one of my poems from the collection:




Four willows stood bound

rooted to the shore, watching—

unquiet, waiting.



different species, unique breeds—

but all were willows.


The storms came with wind

and lashing rain that stripped all—

every lovely leaf. 


Silenced, their voices

no longer sang in the breeze…

and then came people.


They stripped away more

taking bundles of branches

leaving behind trunks


they couldn’t budge, roots

too deep to pull. Left alone

and too bare to weep


the willows remained.

Around them, dropped twigs too small

to be of value.


Unnoticed, they grew

taking root beside mothers

with little to give…


but it was enough.

Four willows became a grove—

in numbers, came strength.


When the storms returned

the wind could only scatter

the smallest of twigs.


Four willows stood bound

in their sisterhood, in strength—

unquiet, waiting.


When Lee’s mother Pauline suggested Tortured Willows as the title of this collection, I knew right away it was perfect. Willows are one of the easiest plants to propagate. You simply break off a branch and it will take root. Women can be very much like willows. Our roots go deep and the fiercest tempests cause us to bend—but not break. Strip us of our branches. We will take root and multiply. I am so happy to share this collection with my sister willows. We have all been broken before, and yet here we remain. 


Tortured Willows

Bent. Bowed. Unbroken


The willow is femininity, desire, death. Rebirth. With its ability to grow from a single broken branch, it is the living embodiment of immortality. It is the yin that wards off malevolent spirits. It is both revered and shunned.


In Tortured Willows, four Southeast Asian women writers of horror expand on the exploration of otherness begun with the Bram Stoker Award-winning anthology Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women.


Like the willow, women have bent and bowed under the expectations and duty heaped upon them. Like the willow, they endure and refuse to break.

With exquisite poetry, Christina Sng, Angela Yuriko Smith, Lee Murray, and Geneve Flynn invite you to sit beneath the tortured willow’s gravid branches and listen to the uneasy shiver of its leaves.


Angela Yuriko Smith is a third generation Uchinanchu and an award winning American poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), a Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. To find out more visit


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