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 by Yuri Kageyama 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 and other queries, please write to us, using the contact section of this site.

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, now a TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN picture book, 2016.

PLEASE COME MAKE THIS A VERY SPECIAL DAY FOR THE ARTISTS:

BOOK PARTY free admission
featuring the SHAKUHACHI music of Kouzan Kikuchi and LIVE ACTION PAINTING by Munenori Tamagawa.
And poet Yuri Kageyama’s YURICANE spoken-word band with Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Trupti (vocals), Hirokazu Suyama (tabla).
Special Guests 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

back cover of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY by Yuri Kageyama. Bios of the artists.

back cover of THE VERY SPECIAL DAY by Yuri Kageyama. Bios of the artists.

FOR FUN SHARING A VIDEO

Portrait Image by MyIdol

Portrait Image by MyIdol

Toshinori Kondo _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Toshinori Kondo
A Poem
By Yuri Kageyama

shrieks growls wails moaning jagged cries that tell stories of the urban jungle wire and metal untamed animal half machine bleeding real blood never stops a never-ending pulse guerilla warfare of free music of onomatopoeia like a snake or a frog whose skin is always wet

GIFTS FROM THE DEAD a poem by Yuri Kageyama

GIFTS FROM THE DEAD
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Graves are always There
for those Who are still
Alive to Forgive
Accept Reconcile.
They don’t Speak Back.
They don’t expect much
because
they are ready
to be Forgotten
if not
really already
Forgotten.
So when You
Go There, You
will Be Forgiven:
Grave are Gifts
from the Dead
for the Living.

At a temple in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

At a temple in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.

OH MY BUDDHA _ written by Yuri Kageyama for Music by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

OH MY BUDDHA
_ a song about faith, love and other things
By Yuri Kageyama

REPEATING THEME:
My name is Yasodhara
Wife of Buddha
Mother of Rahula
I ride a white elephant
I am Siddharta’s woman

VERSE 1
You took off to find Nirvana
Became a hero for the poor
You just took off one sunny day
And found enlightenment
While I’m stuck in the kitchen
Barefoot and pregnant, alone

(Repeat theme)

You went on to start a religion
They’re making statues in your likeness
Of gold and bronze and wood
Sitting prim on that flower lotus
While I’m raising your babies
Teaching them; feeding them, alone

(Repeat theme)

You remember I cooked you breakfast?
So you could go and contemplate
Sitting 49 days under that Bodhi tree
To discover, sacrifice and meditate?
While I’m crying in my misery
Breathing my prayers, alone

(Repeat theme)

REFRAIN
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
My universe went up in smoke
My universe went up in smoke
Oh, my Buddha
Oh, my Buddha

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Guest in a white room _ A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

Guest in a white room
A Poem by Yuri Kageyama

not unwanted
just invisible
they glide across
smiling like shadows
silent of slurs
silent of praise
you know you are a guest
in a room meant for whites

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.

MY LYRICS FOR A SONG AND MY POEM IN KONCH MAGAZINE

HANDS OF A CLOCK is an R&B song for which I wrote the lyrics with Trupti.
The song, with music by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda, will be featured in Sybil Thomas‘ next album.
Sybil Thomas is one of the legendary Rufus Thomas’ family of musicians.
So we are at it again _ the same songwriting team as for I WILL BLEED (featured in the previous post) _ Trupti, Hiroshi and me.
HANDS OF A CLOCK is in the January 2016 issue of KONCH magazine, published by Ishmael Reed and edited by Tennessee Reed.
The January 2016 issue of KONCH also published my poem “A Crow’s Request.”

Hands of a Clock
Words by Trupti and Yuri Kageyama
Music by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda
Written to be sung by Sybil Thomas in her next album.

Verse 1

Hey, we’ve met before
You say the first night we meet
It feels like a life that’s come around before

Verse 2

Hey, shall we dance?
We’ve met many times in our dreams
I was sure I knew you at first glance

Pre-Chorus

Long before a thing has begun,
We’re tied in a destiny of time
Ticking together as one

Chorus

Like the hands of a clock
We are like the hands of a clock
The world keeps spinning
At every new beginning
We come back around
Like the hands of a clock

Verse 3

Hey, is this reality?
Will this last through the changing times?
‘Coz I am a true believer in eternity

Pre-Chorus

Long before a thing has begun,
We’re tied in a destiny of time
Ticking together as one

Chorus

Like the hands of a clock
We are like the hands of a clock
The world keeps spinning
At every new beginning
We come back around
Like the hands of a clock

Bridge

Seconds Minutes and Hours
Are just ways time stays in a groove
When love has stopped our inner clock
Toward timeless love we will move

I WILL BLEED a song about love that defies all _ a finalist in a UK songwriting contest

I co-wrote the poem/lyrics with Trupti for “I WILL BLEED,” a song about star-crossed lovers inspired by Chikamatsu‘s double-suicides written for Bunraku puppet theater, about how love, no matter how simple, mundane and pathetic, endures, even in death.
The melody was composed by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda, who also plays bass in this fine rendition at his father’s Tokyo recording studio (SoundCloud below).
The musical composition by the couple songwriting team was selected a finalist winner in the U.K. Songwriting Contest in December 2015.
I am blessed to be collaborating with and just to know these two young brilliant musicians. I have seen them get married, despite being of different nationalities and backgrounds, tied together so absolutely through their love for music, and their love for each other.
They met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where my son Isaku Kageyama graduated recently, and performed together in different musical groups, with both Trupti and Hiroshi.
They are our future, and the future of the best in music.
The best in us. All of us.
What I want to say in this song is that I still believe in love.
I wrote the poem and worked on the song with Trupti, knowing all the while that Trupti would sing it, and that Hiroshi and Trupti would compose the music together.
The song debuted at my poetry reading and tribute to my poet mentor Ishmael Reed at SFJAZZ CENTER in June 2014 (YouTube clip below).
They are the idea for this song.
They are this song.
I created this song for them.

I WILL BLEED
V1
I won’t cry (a)
Coz it’s in love that I bleed (b)
A bridge of ribbon that carries me (b)
Across waves of war no one can see (b)
V2
I won’t run (a)
My blood will rush strong and drain (b)
All my pride, prejudice and pain (b)
Only our love will still remain (b)
C
I will bleed (a)
But I won’t flee,
Hell is what I desire (b)
I will bleed
But I won’t hide
Hell is what I desire
Such heavenly fire
V3
I won’t sleep (a)
Until this ocean turns to wine (b)
On a night when our stars align (b)
Lying cheek to cheek no longer confined (x)
V4
We will live (a)
You the east and me the sun (b)
Not afraid of different tongues (b)
Our blood joined will make us one (x)

Reading excerpts from NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA

Yuri Kageyama and Hirokazu Suyama Jackson at The Container gallery in Tokyo for a poetry reading. January 2016.

Yuri Kageyama and Hirokazu Suyama Jackson at The Container gallery in Tokyo for a poetry reading. January 2016. Photo by Junji Kurokawa


All Photos by Junji Kurokawa.

Hirokazu Suyama Jackson (tablas) and I did a reading of excerpts from the multi-media performance piece I wrote NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: MEDITATION ON AN UNDER-REPORTED CATASTROPHE BY A POET at The Container gallery, which is in a hair salon in Daikanyama, Tokyo.
Thanks to novelist and GLASS magazine writer Peter Yeoh and John Carpenter of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for kindly organizing and having us at the event.

A MOTHER SPEAKS (an excerpt from NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA)
Poetry by Yuri Kageyama

Please listen and tell the world.
How our children in Fukushima are getting thyroid cancer, one by one.
My daughter is one of them.
Pediatric thyroid cancer is rare.
The chance for getting it is under one in a million.
One in a million.
But in Fukushima, it’s 112 out of 380,000 children tested, and the tally is growing.
This is Fukushima after Three-Eleven.
Beautiful Fukushima, where rice paddies stretch between lazy mountains.
Beautiful Fukushima, where snow falls everywhere like fluffy rice.
Beautiful Fukushima, where, when spring finally comes, cherry trees explode in pink chiffon.
But this is Fukushima after Three-Eleven.
No other place in Japan is like that.
No other place in the world is like that _ except for the Ukraine and Belarus.
But they say these cases are turning up because we are looking so much harder, testing all the children in Fukushima.
The authorities say they are playing it safe.
When no one really feels safe
After Three-Eleven in Fukushima.
My little girl got surgery and so her tumor was removed.
And the doctor told me: Aren’t you so lucky?
Aren’t you so lucky we did those tests to save your child?
If we hadn’t, the cancer might not have been found.
But I don’t feel lucky.
I don’t feel lucky at all.

Yuri Kageyama and Hirokazu Suyama Jackson at a Poetry reading in Tokyo

Yuri Kageyama and Hirokazu Suyama Jackson at a Poetry reading in Tokyo

MYTHICAL MONSTER (an excerpt from NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA)
poetry by Yuri Kageyama

The Catfish sleeps
Buried in the mud
Of meltdown metal
A black-light coastline
Fifty reactors
Tomari to Genkai

The Catfish moves
And the Earth rumbles
Sways its tail
And skyscrapers crumble
Swishes a whisker
Bridges, roads shatter

The Catfish grows
Bigger and bigger
Eight snake faces
Eight dragon tails
Volcanic eruption
Yamata no Orochi

The Monster lives
Our daughters and sons
Every year, a sacrifice
Hundred eight brave samurai
They’re all dead,
Trying to kill it

Hirokazu Suyama Jackson and Yuri Kageyamat at a poetry reading in Tokyo

Hirokazu Suyama Jackson and Yuri Kageyamat at a poetry reading in Tokyo