NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet _ Performed at Z Space San Francisco July 2017.

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by  Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet
Written by Yuri Kageyama | Directed by Carla Blank
Z Space 450 Florida St. San Francisco CA 94110
SAT July 8, 2017 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
SUN July 9, 2017 2 p.m.

Fukushima is the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. It will take decades and billions of dollars to keep the multiple meltdowns under control. Spewed radiation has reached as far as the American West Coast. Some 100,000 people were displaced from the no-go zone. But, six years after 3.11, the story hardly makes headlines.
Journalist Yuri Kageyama turns to poetry, dance, theater, music and film, to remind us that the human stories must not be forgotten. Carla Blank, who has directed plays in Xiangtan and Ramallah, as well as collaborated with Suzushi Hanayagi and Robert Wilson, brings together a multicultural cast of artists to create provocative theater. Performing as collaborators are actors/dancers Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva, Shigeko Sara Suga and musicians Stomu Takeishi, Isaku Kageyama, Kouzan Kikuchi and Joe Small. Lighting design by Blu. Video by Yoshiaki Tago.
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is a literary prayer for Japan. It explores the friendship between women, juxtaposing the intimately personal with the catastrophic. The piece debuted at La MaMa in New York in 2015.

“Yuri, you did a great job. Stay hard and blunt and don’t mince words. Yours was a powerful reflection on the corruption and greed of men and their indifference to human life.” _ Ishmael Reed.

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

We are making a video of the performance, directed by Yoshiaki Tago and shot by Tago and Kate McKinley, including documentation of the discussion sessions that followed each performance. The venue’s rear projection allowed us to use dynamic and informative footage _ almost all entirely shot by Tago, but also drone footage, as well as some images by film director Akiyoshi Imazeki and myself _ that brought the scenes vividly to life like haunting dreams. A lot of editing still to be done for the documentation video. Stay tuned please.

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

For the San Francisco performance, we had genuine Bon Daiko drum music performed by Isaku Kageyama with shakuhachi and fue by Kouzan Kikuchi, joined by Joe Small (taiko/percussion) and Stomu Takeishi (bass), delivering mesmerizing renditions of Bon and minyo from Fukushima, as well as other Japanese tunes. The Bon idea of the dead’s homecoming and the abstracted repetitive dancing in a circle serve as a symbol of the piece’s message of death, yearning for family and future generations, and gratitude for the harvest and peaceful everyday life. Juxtaposed with the experimental choreography by the director Carla Blank, incorporating collaborations with the performers, Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva and Shigeko Sara Suga, Bon dance was transformed on the American stage, and presented as a dignified and artistic motif of modern movement. Bon Odori continues to bring people together in the Japanese American community _ and communities all over Japan.

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

“NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet,” as the title by Ishmael Reed highlights, is basically about my vision as a poet. My spoken word pieces, delivered to accompaniment of various kinds of music, address racism, stereotyping, sexism and the search for love. They also seek to address what society sees as “bigger” issues, such as the Fukushima accident, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the journalistic mission. My intention is to show they are all connected.

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

All those themes provide the driving force in my storytelling that has over the years always sought to bring closer to home the perennial repetition of people’s betrayal, selfishness and smallness.
The Fukushima disaster is the biggest story of my life _ both as poet and journalist, those sides of my writing identity which have in the past remained so painfully separate. They have now come together. We have all come together in this effort _ all of us, of different backgrounds, cultures and disciplines. We have become one. It is clear we have each done our best to share our talent, our passion and our lives, to raise questions, to connect _ and to bring hope.

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

What people are saying about NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: MEDITATION ON AN UNDER-REPORTED CATASTROPHE BY A POET.

Yuri Kageyama, with her epic poem, has earned a place among the leading world poets. This work proves that the poet as a journalist can expose conditions that are ignored by the media. _ Ishmael Reed poet, essayist, playwright, publisher, lyricist, author of MUMBO JUMBO, THE LAST DAYS OF LOUISIANA RED and THE COMPLETE MUHAMMAD ALI, MacArthur Fellowship, professor at the University of California Berkeley, San Francisco Jazz Poet Laureate (2012-2016).

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is a commentary on what it means to be human in the 21st Century. While we are divided by race, ethnicity, language, geography and culture, the essence of our humanity remains constant. In NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA, the cast, director and playwright all come together to create a montage of courage, uncertainty and hope in the face of disaster. _ Basir Mchawi producer, community organizer and radio show host at WBAI Radio in New York, who has taught at the City University of New York, public schools and independent Black schools.

Her collage-like piece weaves together lyrical monologues, sword dance, film and live music that blends jazz, taiko drumming and minyo folks songs. In the Fukushima of 2017, goes one line late in the play, “the authorities say they are playing it safe, when no one really feels safe.” _ Lily Janiak, writer for The San Francisco Chronicle.

A vital story of our times. Spoken word and music from a talented multicultural ensemble. A beacon of light in a darkening world. _ Paul Armstrong artistic director at International Arts Initiatives, a Vancouver-based nonprofit for cultural advancement through the arts and education.

I welcomed NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA _ into my consciousness, with deep gratitude, seeing it twice, two days in succession _ all the while marveling at the tough yet faithful production and its dedication to truth-telling. _ David Henderson poet, co-founder of Umbra and the Black Arts Movement, author of ‘SCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY. JIMI HENDRIX: VOODOO CHILD.

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA echoes the mourning of Bon Odori dance to warn us again and again that the nuclear age of post-World War II Japan has never ended. _ Hisami Kuroiwa movie producer and executive for “The Shell Collector,” “”Lafcadio Hearn: His Journey to Ithaca,” “Sunday,” “Bent” and the Silver Bear-winning “Smoke.”

A truly emotional experience. _ Liliana Perez child psychologist and Ph.D.

Fukushima: Excellent musical accompaniment to poignant poetry, with minimal yet imaginative staging and choreography. _ Nana pianist and New Yorker.

What a delight …. See this show and be transported magically. _ George Ferencz co-founder of the Impossible Ragtime Theater, resident director at La MaMa (1982-2008), who has also directed at the Actors’ Theater of Louisville, Berkeley Rep and Cleveland Playhouse.

News that enraptures and engages through Sound. A Poet sings of the unreported calamity at Fukushima. _ Katsumi a Japanese living in New York.

Everyone who took part in this performance, and those who came to see it, although of different races and thinking, all felt clearly the existence of what we know is so important …. I have lived to see many people who hurt others out of selfishness, betrayed others without qualms, and then went on to hide what they had done. But in the end, what is desired is not achieved, leaving only hunger, and, because of that, the cycle gets repeated …. I pray more people will be able to feel love through seeing this performance. _ Toshinori “Toshichael Jackson” Tani dancer, member of TL Brothers and instructor.

Bios of the artists in
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

THE PLAYWRIGHT
YURI KAGEYAMA
is an award-winning journalist, poet, songwriter, filmmaker and author of “The New and Selected Yuri” and “The Very Special Day.” Her spoken-word band the Yuricane has featured Melvin Gibbs, Eric Kamau Gravatt, Morgan Fisher, Pheeroan akLaff and Winchester Nii Tete. She is published in ”Breaking Silence,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Pow Wow,” Cultural Weekly, Y’Bird, Konch and Public Poetry Series. http://yurikageyama.com/

Carla Blank

Carla Blank

THE DIRECTOR
CARLA BLANK
is a writer, editor, director, dramaturge and a teacher and performer of dance and theater for more than 50 years. She worked with Robert Wilson to create “KOOL _Dancing in My Mind,” inspired by Japanese choreographer Suzushi Hanayagi. She directed Wajahat Ali’s “The Domestic Crusaders” from a restaurant reading in Newark, California, to Off Broadway and the Kennedy Center. http://www.carlablank.com/bio.htm
THE ACTORS

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

TAKEMI KITAMURA, choreographer, dancer, puppeteer, Japanese sword fighter and actor, appeared in “The Oldest Boy” at Lincoln Center, “The Indian Queen” directed by Peter Sellars; “Shank’s Mare” by Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V; “Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed” by Dan Hurlin and “Memory Rings” by Phantom Limb Co. She has worked with Nami Yamamoto, Sondra Loring and Sally Silvers. http://takemikitamura.com/

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

MONISHA SHIVA is an actor, dancer, choreographer and painter, appearing in “The Domestic Crusaders” and “The Rats,” for theater, and independent films such as “Small Delights,” “Carroll Park,” “Echoes” and “Ukkiya Jeevan.” A native New Yorker, she has studied classical Indian dance and Bollywood, jazz and samba dancing, and acting at William Esper Studios and Studio 5. http://www.monishashiva.com/Monisha/home.html

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

SHIGEKO SARA SUGA, actress, director, artistic associate at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, and Flamenco and Butoh dancer, has performed in 150 productions, including Pan Asian Rep.’s “Shogun Macbeth” and “No No Boy.” She dedicates her performance to her nephew Ryoei Suga, who volunteered in Kesennuma after the 2011 tsunami and now devotes his life there as a fisherman and monk. www.shigekosuga.com

THE MUSICIANS
STOMU TAKEISHI is a master of the fretless electric bass and has played and recorded in a variety of jazz settings with artists such as Henry Threadgill, Brandon Ross, Myra Melford, Don Cherry, Randy Brecker, Satoko Fujii, Dave Liebman, Cuong Vu, Paul Motian and Pat Metheny. He tours worldwide and performs at various international jazz festivals.

Kouzan Kikuchi (L) and Stomu Takeishi. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Kouzan Kikuchi (L) and Stomu Takeishi. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

KOUZAN KIKUCHI, shakuhachi player from Fukushima, studied minyo shamisen with his mother. A graduate of the Tokyo University of the Arts, he studied with National Treasure Houzan Yamamoto. He has worked with Ebizo Ichikawa, Shinobu Terajima and Motoko Ishii. In 2011, he became Tozanryu Shakuhachi Foundation “shihan” with highest honors.

Joe Small (L) and Isaku Kageyama. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Joe Small (L) and Isaku Kageyama. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

ISAKU KAGEYAMA is a taiko drummer and percussionist, working with Asano Taiko UnitOne in Los Angeles, film-scoring extravaganza “The Masterpiece Experience” and Tokyo ensemble Amanojaku. A magna cum laude Berklee College of Music graduate, he teaches at Wellesley, University of Connecticut and Brown. http://isakukageyama.com/

JOE SMALL is a taiko artist, who is a member of Eitetsu Hayashi’s Fu-un no Kai and creator of the original concert, “Spall Fragments.” A Swarthmore graduate, he apprenticed for two years with Kodo, researched Japanese music as a Fulbright Fellow and holds an MFA in Dance from UCLA. He teaches at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute. www.joesmalltaiko.com

THE LIGHTING DESIGNER
BLU lived in New York for 20 years and was resident designer at the Cubiculo and La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. A Bessie Award winner, he was lighting designer for renowned dance theater artists such as Sally Gross, Eiko and Koma, Ping Chong, Donald Byrd, Nancy Meehan and Paula Josa Jones.

THE FILMMAKER
YOSHIAKI TAGO directed “A.F.O.,” “Believer,” “Worst Contact,” “Meido in Akihabara.” His short “The Song of a Tube Manufacturer” won the runner-up prize at the Yasujiro Ozu Memorial Film Festival in 2013. He serves as film adviser for Takashi Murakami. He has worked with Nobuhiko Obayashi, Takashi Miike and Macoto Tezuka. He is documenting “News from Fukushima” as a film.

From the director
This performance is a collaboration among all its participants, some who have worked together since 2015, and some who in 2017 helped create this new development of the piece. Through email conversations and intensive rehearsals we arrived at our choices of the particular dramatic scenes, music, video, dances and other action you will see. The Bon Odori dances and music, which provide transitions between the scenes, are based on traditional celebrations that occur throughout Japan during the late summer to honor the ancestors: Soma Bon Uta and Aizu Bandaisan from Fukushima, Yagi Bushi from Tochigi and Gunma near Tokyo, and Tanko Bushi from Fukuoka, besides Tokyo Ondo, which continues throughout Bon Odori (The Death Dance). Great thanks to Takemi Kitamura, who taught us the four dances you will see and who also created the movement for the Prologue solo and Epilogue trio, inspired by a line dance from Aizu, the westernmost region of Fukushima, where annually it is offered in remembrance of 19 of the over 300 Byakkotai warriors , teen-age sons of samurai in the White Tiger Battalion who in 1868, during the Boshin Civil War, committed ritual disembowelment (seppuku or hara-kiri) because they mistakenly believed a fire had consumed their lord’s castle, which would mean their city had been captured and their families killed. For me, this dance particularly resonates because of where it comes from, how contemporary its formal choices appear, and how as the strokes of the blades go every which direction, it becomes a metaphor for the ways life can slice us also. It has been my great pleasure to realize Yuri Kageyama’s work with all these wonderful, dedicated performers.

From the playwright
The two sides of who I am _ poet and journalist _ have long been separate. I am a poet, first and foremost, I felt, and reporting is what I do for my job. But the 2011 Fukushima disaster brought those two sides together in a way that was undeniable, imperative and honest. I am filled with gratitude toward my collaborators, who have turned my words and ideas into a moving, convincing and honorable piece of theater. In this work, we defy the boundaries of cultures, race, generations and genres to tell the story about how our world has created a catastrophe. We don’t pretend to have all the answers. But it’s an important story.

Acknowledgements
Thanks to Akiyoshi Imazeki for photographs of Fukushima for video by Yoshiaki Tago for “Decontamination Ghosts;” Z Space, especially Drew Yerys, Minerva Ramirez, Wolfgang Wachaolovsky, Jim Garcia, Julie Schuchard and Andrew Burmester; Alex Maynard and Adam Hatch for the use of Starline Social Club for rehearsals; Mark Ong of Side by Side Studios for the poster design; Annette Borromeo Dorfman for program design and photographing the performance; Sally Gross, Ping Chong and Meredith Monk for help finding our cast; Ishmael Reed for ongoing support and Tennessee Reed for photography; Hisami Kuroiwa for her wise counsel, filmmaker Kate McKinley; LaMaMa Experiemental Theatre for showing the work in New York in 2015; Melvin Gibbs, Sumie Kaneko, Hirokazu Suyama and Kaoru Watanabe for the music at La MaMa; Bob Holman for presenting an initial reading at Bowery Poetry Club with Yuki Kawahisa, Pheeroan akLaff and Tecla Esposito; Makoto Horiuchi; Yoichi Watanabe and Hiromi Ogawa of Amanojaku taiko in Tokyo; all the members of the Yuricane spoken word band who inspired the poems and stories that developed into this work, and, last but not least, the people of Fukushima.

Yuri Kageyama reports from the no-go zone in Fukushima. Photo by Kazuhiro Onuki.

Yuri Kageyama reports from the no-go zone in Fukushima. Photo by Kazuhiro Onuki.

Old Wounds _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

OLD WOUNDS
_ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

the pain throbs
gnarled stuck intestines
wobbly knobs of scars inside
tracing where the knife slashed
to deliver your son
so many years ago
the bleeding has healed

betrayal, forgiven but not forgotten,
sealed lips of hushed kisses,
the chasm of hurt
tugging, tearing at your chest,
has turned into heartbeats
fading with age
just going

da-thump da-thump da-thump
barely murmurs
whispers of skin
you were young then
and had dreams,
not knowing other things,
unlike honor,

can elude,
again, and again,
for skin color, sex, age,
growing used to anonymity
outgrowing disappointment
but old wounds
they hurt like new wounds

AN ELEGY FOR JOURNALISM A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

AN ELEGY FOR JOURNALISM
_ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Stories killed, stories buried,
Stories untold, stories denied,
Robert and Dori Maynard
Woodward and Bernstein
Margaret Bourke-White
Howard Imazeki
Gary Webb
Robert Capa
Anja Niedringhaus
Gerald Vizenor
Gwen Ifill
Joe Oyama
Gordon Parks
Do we write to live or live to write?
Do we write to remember or do we write to forget?
Do we write to remember or do we write to be remembered?
Do we write so we don’t kill or do we write so we don’t kill ourselves?
Do we make movies to live or live to make movies?
Do we make music to live or live to make music?
Do we write to live or live to write?
Do we live?
Do we live?
Do we live?

^___< Combining what I wrote several weeks ago with what I wrote several years ago.
I like this what this poem has become now.

ISAKU KAGEYAMA AS A YOUNG DRUMMER

ISAKU KAGEYAMA as a young taiko drummer at Bon Odori in Tokyo and an Amanojaku children’s division performance doing among other pieces “Nidanuchi.”
Thanks to all his Bon Taiko students for expressing interest. Now that they’ve gotten us started, we are thinking of editing video of his omatsuri playing.

DECONTAMINATION GHOSTS _ a performance poem by Yuri Kageyama (excerpt from “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet”

Mounds of bags in Fukushima

Mounds of bags called “flexible containers,” or “fle-con,” in Fukushima. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

DECONTAMINATION GHOSTS a performance poem by Yuri Kageyama an excerpt from “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet” being performed at Z Space in San Francisco July 8-9, 2017. Written by Yuri Kageyama. Directed by Carla Blank. Performed by Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva and Shigeko Sara Suga with Music by Melvin Gibbs, Isaku Kageyama and Kouzan Kikuchi. Lighting by Blu. Film by Yoshiaki Tago.

(with video and Drum and Fue, as in Kabuki Ghost scenes)

(In English speak normally, quickly)
Flexible Container
(Chant very slowly in Japanese, both voices together)
Fooh reh kooh she boo rew
Kon tay nah
Fooh reh kooh she boo rew
Kon tay nah
Fooh reh kooh she boo rew
Kon tay nah

Decontamination Efforts in Fukushima. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

Decontamination Efforts in Fukushima. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

Flexible Container
Foo reh kon
Foo reh kon
Foo reh kon
(One voice starts counting slowly and keeps counting slowly in Japanese. Overlay as the other voice starts, with the slow mechanical Japanese chant)
Hitotsu Futatsu Mittsu Yottsu Itsutsu Muttsu Nanatsu ….
Foo reh kon
Foo reh kon
Foo reh kon
Fooh reh kooh she boo rew
Fooh reh kooh she boo rew
Fooh reh kooh she boo rew
Kon tay nah
Kon tay nah
Kon tay nah
(fade out)

Note to readers: The Japanese government is backing expensive projects for giant shovels to scrape off topsoil in a stretch of land as big as the state of Massachusetts, and storing them in plastic bags, mounds and mounds of them _ 13 million flexible containers by the official count _ so areas in Fukushima can be declared safe enough for people to come back and live. This wasn’t attempted in Chernobyl, or any place in the world. The government is ending aid in March for those who evacuated from the areas being declared safe after decontamination. Before the 2011 nuclear accident, the government used to set the safe limit for radiation exposure at about 1 millisievert a year. But these days health experts are saying the definitive link with cancer is detected scientifically at 100 millisieverts a year or higher, and so Fukushima people at most will be exposed to far less at under 20 millisieverts, which, they say, would be safe.

Decontamination efforts in Fukushima

Decontamination efforts in Fukushima. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

THE NEW AND SELECTED YURI GETS A BOOK REVIEW

My book of poems and short stories THE NEW AND SELECTED YURI from a few years ago just got A GREAT REVIEW.

Thanks so much!

“These are the stories most in need of being heard, and her crisp-but-provocative writing provides a vehicle both uncomfortable and enjoyable.” _ Todd Ellis.

HAIKU FOR SAGIMUSUME _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Heron in a Tokyo Park

Heron in a Tokyo Park

HAIKU FOR SAGIMUSUME
A poem by Yuri Kageyama

Dance from white to red
A ghostly bride mirrored in snow
Killed by love, she still lives

I saw Kikunosuke perform the Kabuki dance “Heron Maiden.”
I’ve seen the dance by Tamasaburo many times, but this version was special, perhaps because his subdued though utterly elegant interpretation so perfectly highlighted the beauty of the story and the music, or perhaps just because a garden near where I live, Hamarikyu, has herons.
Now, I know they are so still, perched on a rock with their crooked necks, as though they know but don’t care they are forming a perfect picture for an artist, so intensely focused, ruthless in their silence and stillness.
What a bird it is _ and what an image, forlorn and fantastic at once, to depict the love of a Japanese woman.
It is not necessary to have seen herons every day or be a Japanese woman to appreciate this gorgeous theater piece.
But it helps.
And I thank the god of poetry for giving me the gift that allows me to witness how this great Japanese dance and the humble dignity of the heron can transcend the finitude and pettiness of society.

Heron in a Tokyo Garden.

Heron in a Tokyo Garden.

The Apology _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

The Apology
_ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

My voice screaming banzai
Ten thousand years banzai
Dying in glee as the divine devil wind
For the crane god whose voice I heard too late

My hand piercing your baby
A glob of meat with my bayonet
Raping girls in the name of comfort
Burning a city like a Sherman deranged

My heart that worships history
To win status as an honorary white
Bleeding streaks from a fluttering red sun
Despising those of the same yellow skin

My voice
My hand
My heart

My voice will never speak that way again
My hand will never act that way again
My heart will never feel that way again
No apology is enough but I promise
And I apologize

THE MANY LIVES OF YURI KAGEYAMA _ THE POET IN ME AND THE JOURNALIST IN ME

I get such a nice write-up by Tim Hornyak in No. 1 Shimbun, the publication of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, I can’t believe it is really about me.
It’s called The Many Lives of Yuri Kageyama.
And it brings together the sides of me I usually like to keep separate _ the poet in me and the journalist in me.

“The prose is unvarnished, unflinchingly personal and adroit in quickly juggling themes of child abuse, racism and sexuality while maintaining a narrative flow,” he writes.

“Kageyama’s poems have addressed stereotypes about race and gender roles. They’re made even more powerful when Kageyama recites them with collaborators such as Ghanaian percussionist Winchester Nii Tete on African drums and Keiji Kubo on didgeridoo. Against the backdrop of a traditional Noh stage, it’s a heady, globalized mix of words and music.”

Thanks to Tim. Thanks to all the musicians who have helped my poetry. Thanks to the poets, the literary publishers, the songwriters, the photographers, the filmmakers. Thanks to all the people of Fukushima who have shared their stories with me. Thanks, above all, to all the honorable, creative and dedicated colleagues I have at The Associated Press.

THE VERY SPECIAL DAY _ A CHILDREN’S BOOK BY YURI KAGEYAMA with PICTURES BY MUNENORI TAMAGAWA

Cover for the children's book THE VERY SPECIAL DAY by Yuri Kageyama with pictures by Munenori Tamagawa.

Cover for the children’s book THE VERY SPECIAL DAY by Yuri Kageyama with pictures by Munenori Tamagawa.

A birthday is very special for any little boy.
And a little boy is very special for any parent.
This book is an everyday but very special story about the trials and joys of growing up in an imperfect world.
THE VERY SPECIAL DAY by Yuri Kageyama (first published in KONCH, Ishmael Reed Publishing Co., 2013).
Illustrations by Munenori Tamagawa.
A TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN 2016 publication picture book, designed by Fengshui Iwazaki.

FOR ORDERS please go to this artist Munenori Tamagawa’s link , or write to us, using the contact section of this site.

A story about how a defiant young woman tries to make a birthday a very special day for her child all by herself.
A story about how discrimination begins in the home, and how the fight against discrimination also begins in the home.
A story about ice cream at a birthday party and French Fries at the aquarium.
A story about how “they didn’t like us because we were Japanese American, and not Japanese.”
A story about how stars can be that cure-all ideal but no-cost spiritual present.
A story that’s a bit sentimental but honorable and true, written for all the children in the world.
May they stay safe, may they enjoy peace, may they find love and may they know who they really are.

Reading THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen Tokyo SUN. Oct. 23, 2016.

Reading THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen Tokyo SUN. Oct. 23, 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

OUR READING OF THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen, Tokyo, SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Featuring Live Painting by Munenori Tamagawa, the illustrator of the book.
Left to Right: Yuri Kageyama (writer and storyteller), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Munenori Tamagawa (visual artist), Ryan Carter (guitar) and Kouzan Kikuchi (shakuhachi). PHOTOS by Junji Kurokawa.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016.

Our Reading of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

So I thought about what could be a very special day for Mama, and so I asked her: “Mama, what would you like to do on your funeral?”
Mama stopped moving all of a sudden, and I thought she might even spank me because it was so all of a sudden, though she hardly ever ever ever spanks me.
That was how sudden it was.
Then she went back to normal and said, “I want a lot of beautiful music.”
So I said very quickly to catch up with her suddenness, “Mama, I will play that music. I will.”

_ Excerpt from “The Very Special Day,” a story first published in KONCH: Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. 2013, and a TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN picture book, published 2016.

More photos from Inokashira Park courtesy park organizers:

06

BOOK PARTY free admission
featuring LIVE PAINTING by Munenori Tamagawa and poet Yuri Kageyama’s YURICANE spoken-word band with Kouzan Kikuchi (shakuhachi), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Trupti (vocals), Hirokazu Suyama (tabla).
Special Guests Kenwood Dennard, Biankah Bailey, Jacqueline Mujaya , Taylor Mignon and more.
SUN Aug. 7, 2016 2 p.m. Infinity Books. 1F Komagata Bashi Heights Bldg , 1-2-4 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0001
SAT Aug. 13, 2016 2 p.m. Demi Cafe in sora Gallery. 3-14-1 Honcho Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo 85-0012

THE VERY SPECIAL DAY book party at Infinity Books in Tokyo SUN Aug. 7, 2016.

THE VERY SPECIAL DAY book party at Infinity Books in Tokyo SUN Aug. 7, 2016. Photos by Emiko Tokai.

Live Painting with the reading.

Live Painting with the reading.

Kenwood Dennard, professor at Berklee College of Music, reads his poetry at THE VERY SPECIAL DAY

Kenwood Dennard, professor at Berklee College of Music, reads his poetry at THE VERY SPECIAL DAY

Jackie Mujaya speaks about Tanaganika Kids at THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Infinity Books in Tokyo.

Jackie Mujaya speaks about Tanaganika Kids at THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Infinity Books in Tokyo. Cherie Willoughby, at right, who also read her poetry.