Skip to content

Naoko Fujimoto

The Pay Phone



“The Pay Phone” is a graphic poem from my project, which is called Graphic Poetry = Trans. Sensory. “Trans.” has two meanings, which are Translate and Transport. I translate my poems into words and images to create a contemporary picture scroll. The picture scroll in Japanese is Emaki (eh-MA-kee), and the art has been a popular and well-known style since the 6th century. Emaki is a collaboration of words and art and is akin to a current graphic novel / poetry / comic.

With the visual experience, I also want my readers to transport their senses from the flat paper and bridge the gap between words and images that will connect with their physical counterparts. Like a historical Emaki, there are side stories hidden behind some of the main graphic narratives— be they comedic or serious— for audiences to interpret. All of the details (choice of words, origami paper, or styles) have a specific meaning to contribute to the whole.

The original poem, “The Pay Phone”, was written after an interview with the daughter of a breast cancer patient when I was composing my poetry chapbook, “Home, No Home”. In the chapbook, I interviewed and researched survivors of health risks, natural disasters, and broken moments to identify the meaning of “home”.



Naoko Fujimoto was born and raised in Nagoya, Japan. She was an exchange student and received a B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University. Her recent publications are in Prairie Schooner, Hotel Amerika, RHINO, Cream City Review, and many other journals. Her first chapbook, “Home, No Home”, won the annual Oro Fino Chapbook Competition by Educe Press. Another short collection, “Silver Seasons of Heartache”, was released by Glass Lyre Press. She is working on her graphic poetry collection, which will be published by Tupelo Press.