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.

Praise for  Tortured Willows

“This collection of poetry, without a doubt, will forever remain one of my all-time favorites. No matter how hard I pulled at the reins, I could not stop until every last poem was inside of me. The images created in my mind from the varying forms of poetic storytelling were haunting, terrifying, and wondrous, all at the same time. Nightmares will surely invade my dreams, but I welcome them. This collection holds such an important message about all those who were made to bend and bow at the will of another, and for those continuing to suffer. Four brilliant writers took me along for an intimate ride through the past and present. They allowed me to witness horror through fiction and fact. May the Willow-sisters be forever unbroken.”—Cindy O’Quinn, two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of “Lydia” and “The Thing I Found Along a Dirt Patch Road”.

“Four willows stood bound rooted to the shore, watching--- unquiet, waiting …”

                                                          from “Four Willows Bound” —Angela Yuriko Smith


I liken Angela’s willows to this collection’s contributors. No longer silent, their poems speak of scars left by disappointment and hurt from male relationships. On a larger scale are feelings of helpless isolation due to racism, inspiring poems with an underlying outrage. I love the artful sections for each poet, as well as the background information given. You know you’re in for dark and deep poetic treats from these four super talents, all of them associated with the multiple award-winning collection, Black Cranes. Believe me, Tortured Willows is a keeper!” —Marge Simon, Bram Stoker and Lifetime Achievement Award-winner.


“As delicately woven as it is brutally vicious, Tortured Willows is a glimpse into the shadows of otherness and the sorrow of lost heritages that bends the spirit, but never breaks it. Each poem is a silk tapestry that tells the stories of four very different women with one powerful truth: you can transplant a willow anywhere, but you can never destroy their roots. A beautiful collection of verse that will both break your heart, and leave you breathless.” —Jezzy Wolfe, author of MONSTRUM POETICA

“A haunting, harrowing exploration of obligation, expectation, and sacrifice, poetry as unquiet fury and a lens on both past and present. Told in four unique voices yet speaking for countless silent generations of Asian women, Tortured Willows grips you by the throat and screams into the night, demanding to be heard.” —Dan Rabarts, award-winning author of the Children of Bane series.

“Women live with spectres gifted to us by our experiences. Tortured Willows breathes life into these shadows, reminding us that what has shaped us has not broken us. Woven throughout this collection is a sense of connectiveness with all women, but for a trick of fate their lives would be our lives. After each poem the poets (Lee Murray, Geneve Flynn Christina Sng, and Angela Yuriko Smith), reflect on the journey that led them to spill their words across the page, giving misinterpretation no chance to grow and overwhelm the rawness of their meaning. These poems reach deep into our primal response to fight, flee, or freeze in the face of an unending onslaught of a world trying to reshape us in their image. In the current climate of unquiet voices, Tortured Willows sweeps the reader up into a choir that will only grow louder.”—Piper Mejia, author of The Better Sister & Other Stories


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