Located in the Western South Pacific, Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States and its culture has Spanish and American influences, a legacy of its colonial history. Guam has an indigenous population called the Chamorro, who have a rich artistic heritage of music, dance, handiwork and architecture. Latte stones are a well-documented architectural element unique to the Chamorro culture, consisting of stone pillars which support traditional Chamorro houses.
Like many Pacific countries, Guam has been deeply affected by war. The country was taken over by the Japanese only hours after the strike on Pearl Harbour in December 1941, with the proceeding two-year period being marked by torture and countless other tragedies. Much of Guam’s literature features historical accounts of these tragic two years. The story of the civilians' path as they were taken to Japan and kept as POWs was recounted in James O. Thomas’ book Trapped with the Enemy. No Man Is an Island is a film based on the true story of a U.S. navy radioman who escapes capture by the Japanese during this period.
Guam-born poet Emelihter Kihleng is a celebrated new voice in Pacific literature, her debut collection of poems My Urohs exploring questions of cultural identity as well as contemporary issues unique to the Pacific Island region. Another noted Guam-born personality is Mike Svoboda, a celebrated trombonist and composer whose eclectic compositions combine classical and popular elements to surprising and often humorous effect.