Film-maker Yoshiaki Tago in his Tokyo office.
Tago and I are working on a film together.
Surprisingly, it’s only recently (after reminding from an email from writer and choreographer Carla Blank) that I’ve realized this is another cross-cultural collaboration that’s always been my life/work/identity.
I have a very good feeling about our work in progress.
I love Tago’s sensibilities. He is a Japanese film-maker. And that means a certain language, a way of seeing and telling a story.
But we are struggling to connect a divide (gender, generation, genre, cultural reference).
Sometimes we are frustrated because we don’t understand what’s so obvious to the other.
By being forced to articulate what my poetry is for me, I am learning how my works connect to the past, to music, to the marginality of being caught in between the U.S. and Japan, to sexuality, to my son and his music _ all the things that are so close to me I sometimes forget or choose to forget what they mean.
Certainly, I don’t want to talk about them _ in conversational prose.
After all, that’s why the scars and tears and shame are all so carefully packaged _ and over so many years since my childhood in my poetry and stories.
To put it another way: If I had become someone who wrote in the Japanese language, I would certainly have become a different kind of person.
I write in English. I am an American minority writer.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression.
Tago and I get along great: We both don’t like “Elephant Man,” or even “The Ballad of Narayama” (though Tago was educated in the school of director Shohei Imamura).
And we both love Kihachi Okamoto.
If that’s not enough to keep us going, nothing is.