The Poetry of Life

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The lyrical, haunting music of a lone flute resounds over a darkened stage. Then Jill Kimie Sadoyama ’74 speaks:

“Bird song hums
Sweet harmony of homelands
Fragrant with perfumes
That drip like honey”

So opens Sadoyama’s original play of poetry and prose, performed at Kaua’i Community College in Hawai’i in November 2012.

The play, Savior in Search of a Modern Dream, explored Sadoyama’s journey from Kaua’i to Portland, where she lived after graduating from Pacific University, and then back to Kaua’i.

The play features Sadoyama’s writing, both prose and poetry.  

However, she didn’t set out to be a writer.

Sadoyama came to Pacific University as a student in 1969, thinking she would major in elementary education. However, she changed her mind and went on to be an art major, influenced in large part by former Pacific art professor Jan Shield. 

After graduating from Pacific, Sadoyama lived in southeast Portland. She later traveled abroad, married and moved to Denmark, lived in New Mexico and Arizona, then finally returned the Islands.

Her first story, she said, was written in Portland. Titled My Favorite Clown, it was about her childhood best friend, who died during the summer before middle school.

“I was so devastated by it,” Sadoyama said. “It was my first experience with death,
so that kind of set the stage for my
writing a book.

“Writers have an epiphany, a trigger,” she added. “Just living on my own in Portland, not having my old pals around, I could sit there and write clearly.”

The one-night performance of her play featured Sadoyama reading her poems, as well as harp, flute, drums and dancing, all performed by her friends. It was produced in association with the YWCA and the
Office of the Mayor of Kaua’i. Proceeds from the performance benefitted local community nonprofits. 

This story first appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit

Sunday, June 1, 2014