About Yuri (Biography)

Yuri Kageyama is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, journalist, filmmaker and songwriter of bilingual and bicultural (Japanese and American) upbringing.

“They’ve called Yuri ‘cute’ often during her life. She’s cute all right. Like a tornado is cute. Like a hurricane is cute. This Yuricane. These poems are honest. Blunt. When she says that writing a poem is like taking ‘a bungee jump,’ she means it.” _ Ishmael Reed.

“Through the anguished eyes of a hybrid soul, Yuri Kageyama sees the boundless universe in everyday life. ” _ Shuntaro Tanikawa.

“New and important …. articulate and beautiful …. These poems could never have been written by anyone but a poetess who has gone through the labor Mother Nature imposes upon the one who creates. If not for Yuri’s sensitivity and capability, this book wouldn’t have been born.” _ Yo Nakayama.

“Kageyama’s images, scoured, purged of ornamentation, can have the effect of a stun gun …. The focus in Kageyama’s work is less on beauty, which can be delusional, than on truth. Serious literature, we realize, does not exist to comfort and mollify us, but to unnerve and agitate.” _ The Japan Times.

“The prose is unvarnished, unflinchingly personal and adroit in quickly juggling themes of child abuse, racism and sexuality …. Kageyama’s poems have addressed stereotypes about race and gender roles. They’re made even more powerful when Kageyama recites them with collaborators …. it’s a heady, globalized mix of words and music.” _ Tim Hornyak in “The Many Lives of Yuri Kageyama” in No. 1 Shimbun.

“Kageyama pushes us to think of anger as a way to reconsider racialized and gendered subjectivities, the power dynamics that bind and constrain and that one must resist.” _ Stephen Hong Sohn.

Yuri Kageyama’s Bibliography or list of publications is at this site

Yuri Kageyama wrote NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet, a performance piece of the spoken word, dance, music and film, directed by Carla Blank. It was performed at Z Space in San Francisco July 8 – 9, 2017, by Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva and Shigeko Suga, with music by Stomu Takeishi, Isaku Kageyama, Kouzan Kikuchi and Joe Small. Lighting by Blu. Film by Yoshiaki Tago. It debuted at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, Sept. 11 – 13, 2015, with music led by Melvin Gibbs.
THE FILM VERSION OF “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA” BY YOSHIAKI TAGO, completed in October 2018, is an Official Selection at the Los Angeles Asian Film Festival 2021, Jade Jaguar Cinema Festival in Brazil Aug. 22-31, 2021 and the Universe Multicultural Film Festival Aug. 27-29, 2021, won the Award of Excellence Writer/Script Docu-Drama at the WRPN Women’s International Film Festival Spring 2021, is a Finalist Official Selection at New Year Film Festival and Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival both in February 2021, Honorable Mention Official Selection at the London International Monthly Film Festival also in February 2021, is a Best Ecology Documentary at the Best Film Awards, Official Selection at the Vancouver Independent Film Festival and Toronto International Women Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature at the Rome International Movie Awards and an Official Selection Finalist at the Flixze Film Festival, all in January 2021. It won the Grand Festival Award at the 2019 Berkeley Video & Film Festival, where it had its world premiere SAT Nov. 2, 2019. It aired as part of the Select Showcase Official Selection Guam International Film Festival June 2020 on PBS Guam. It won Best Documentary Feature at the Madras Independent Film Festival (October 2020 edition), and is a Finalist Official Selection at the Montreal Independent Film Festival November 2020. It won Best Documentary Feature at the Royal Wolf Film Awards in December 2020, and is an Official Selection Finalist at the Beyond the Curve International Film Festival and Best Film Awards  in January 2021, Official Selection at the Kalakari Film Festival in India in May 2021, as well as in Poetry and Musical Videos and screened online at the Motion Pictures International Film Festival in November 2020. NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is also an Official Selection at the Silent River Film Festival in California in August 2020, ARTS X SDGS Festival New York in April 2020 and the Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival in June 2020. It won Best Experimental Documentary at Sicily Independent Film Awards August 2020; Official Selection Best Indies Feature at Oniros Film Awards in Italy and Best Asian Feature Film Finalist in the 2019 New Vision International Film Festival in Amsterdam. It screened online at the Toronto Film Channel Aug. 31, 2020.

Her story THE VERY SPECIAL DAY is an animation film, a collaboration with stop motion artist Hayatto (August 2019). The film is an Official Selection at the Big Sur Film Festival April 2021, Winner in Best Animation at Beyond the Curve International Film Festival February-March 2021, Official Selection at the Phoenix Shorts Festival March 2021, Nominated Best International Short Film at the Brazil International Monthly Independent Film Festival, Finalist Official Selection Paris International Short Festival, Honorable Mention Official Selection London International Monthly Film Festival, Official Selection at the New Year Film Festival and Hollywood International Golden Age Festival, all February 2021, Quarter Finalist at the Jade Jaguar Film Festival in Brazil August 2021, won Best Animation at the Milan Short Film Festival and Best Animation Film at the Madras Independent Film Festival. It is an Official Selection, nominated for Best Animation and the Audience Award, at the Motion Pictures International Film Festival, where it screened online November 2020. It won the Award of Excellence in Animation Directing at the Montreal Independent Film Festival. Finalist Best Children’s Film at Indie Short Fest (Los Angeles International Film Festival). Official Selection Finalist at the Seoul International Short Film Festival, Semi-Finalist Jelly Film Festival and Official Selection Tokyo International Short Film Festival, January 2021, won Best Animation Short at the Royal Wolf Film Awards and Special Jury Selection Roma Short Film Festival, both in December 2020, Kalakari Film Festival in India in May 2021, as well as the Cyrus International Film Festival, New Wave Short Film Festival, New York Tri-State International Film Festival and Silicon Beach Flm Festival, Grand Jury Award at Oniros Film Awards in Italy and Finalist at the LA Sun Film Fest, Official Selection Finalist at the Pune Short Film Festival, Kosice International Monthly Film Festival, the Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival and Sicily Independent Film Awards, all in 2020. It also won the Silver Award at the Spotlight Short Film Awards, Honorable Mention at the New York Film Awards, Festigious International Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Awards and Top Shorts Film Festival, Award of Distinction at the Canada Shorts Film Festival, and Best Animates film at the Hollywood Blood Horror Festival, and Official Selection at Best Global Shorts, in 2019.

Written and Read by Yuri Kageyama, with Music by Kouzan Kikuchi, Hiroshi Tokieda, Ryan Carter and Isaku Kageyama. 

The Trailer link

Her published books are: The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co.), which includes poems, short fiction and essays; Peeling (I. Reed Press) and The Very Special Day, a children’s picture book with illustrations by visual artist Munenori Tamagawa in 2016, which developed into the 2019 animation film.

                                                           Photo by Annette Dorfman

As a filmmaker, Kageyama has also written, directed, shot and edited two shorts, “I Will Bleed” and “Story of Miu” while studying at the New York Film Academy in 2014, in addition to writing and producing NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA and THE VERY SPECIAL DAY. She also reads in THE VERY SPECIAL DAY.

Yoshiaki Tago shot, directed and edited “Talking Taiko” (March 2010), which documented her readings and thoughts on her art. He is also the director of the film version of “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe.” 

Luis Silva, Adam Lewis, Rebecca MacNiece, Ian Thomas Ash and Shiho Kataoka have also filmed Kageyama’s poetry readings.

Kageyama’s poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in many literary publications, including Y’Bird, “Greenfield Review,” “San Francisco Stories,” On a Bed of Rice, Breaking Silence: an Anthology of Asian American Poets,” POW WOW: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction from Then to Now,” “Life and Legends,” “Poetry Kanto” “phati’tude,” “Other Side River,” “Beyond Rice,” “Bridge, ” “Kyoto Review,” “Tokyo Poetry Journal,” “Yellow Silk,” “Stories We Hold Secret,” “KONCH,” “MultiAmerica” and “Obras.” Please see Bibliography for a more complete listing.

Her poem “ode to the stroller” was featured in the Public Poetry Series in February 2015, and published in Tokyo Poetry Journal Vol 5. January 2018.

Her poem “No Gift of the Magi” was a finalist winner in The Cultural Weekly poetry contest in November 2013. A film by Adam Lewis of her reading the poem with bass by Hiroshi Tokieda was featured by “The Cultural Weekly” online.

Kageyama leads her spoken word/funk/world music band the Yuricane.

“I WILL BLEED,” a song for which she co-wrote the lyrics was a finalist winner in the U.K. Songwriting Contest in December 2015, with music composed by Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda. That song and “Oh My Buddha,” which she also co-wrote with Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda, are part of the 2017 Interstellar album.

Among the many artists Kageyama has collaborated or read with are: Ishmael Reed, Carla Blank, Tennessee Reed, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Eric Kamau Gravatt, Melvin Gibbs, Hayatto, Sandile Ngidi, Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva, Shigeko Sara Suga, Kouzan Kikuchi, Pheeroan akLaff, Seamus Heaney, Stomu Takeishi, Geraldine Kudaka, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Isaku Kageyama, Ian Thomas Ash, Hirokazu Suyama, Hiroshi Tokieda, Hirokazu Natsuaki, Tea, Yuuichiro Ishii, Hide Asada, Winchester Nii Tete, Munenori Tamagawa, Radio the Artist, Blu, Sumie Kaneko, Mark Ong, Annette Borromeo Dorfman, Eba Chan, Hao Bai, Kaoru Watanabe, Nobutaka Yamasaki, Darrell Craig Harris, Toshinori “Toshichael” Tani, Morgan Fisher, Sachiko Yoshihara, Makoto Horiuchi, Hiroyuki Shido, Marc Hayashi, Tecla Esposito, Russel Baba, Yumi Miyagishima, Gordon R. Watanabe, Shozu Ben, Toshinori Takimoto, Yuki Kawahisa, Glen Pearson, Ashwut Rodriguez, Ryan Carter, the Broun Fellinis, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Keiji Kubo, Teruyuki and Haruna Kawabata, Takenari Shibata, Abel Coelho, Yuri Matsueda, Jin Imamura, Chris Holland, Sergio Ferrer, Joe Small, Kenny Endo, Rome Neal, Rodrigo Albuquerque, Raquel Prado and Desiree Cantuaria.

Reading poetry in San Francisco L ~ R Hirokazu Jackson Suyama, Yuri Kageyama, Melvin Gibbs.

The still photographers who have documented her readings include Junji Kurokawa, Eba Chan, Chris Chow, Jimmi Dong, Annette Borromeo Dorfman and John Matthews. Graphic designer Ian Lynam did the design of this site.

Kageyama has read her poetry and stories at the SFJAZZ CENTER, Litquake, The Nihonmachi Streetfair, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, La Pena Cultural Center, Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Intersection and Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco; plan-B, Morgan Salon, JamRock Cafe, The Juke Joint, The Container, Camarada Gallery, Maple House, Ben’s Cafe, What the Dickens, Tokyo Salon, Infinity Books, Inokashira Koen, Aoyama Gakuin University, Kikokushijo Academy, OL Tokyo and the Pink Cow in Tokyo; the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bowery Poetry Club and Lehman College in New York; the Japan Writers Conference in Okinawa and many other places.

She donated her time to help with the research and translation for the book, FUKUSHIMA: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman and Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists, New York/London: The New Press, 2014. The Japanese translation of the book by Iwanami Shoten was published in 2015.

Kageyama’s poetry, translated into Japanese, is featured in a 1985 anthology of Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian poetry published by Doyo Bijutsusha. She has a 1993 book in Japanese co-written with Hamao Yokota on the Japanese workplace. She helped with translating the words of dancer Suzushi Hanayagi for Robert Wilson’s performance piece “KOOL _ Dancing in My Mind,” which debuted at the Guggenheim Museum in New York April 17, 2009. She has also translated works by writer Kenzaburo Oe and poet Hiromi Ito.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in Tokyo, (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa) when I interview Akio Toyoda for The Associated Press.

As a journalist, Yuri has worked for more than 30 years at The Associated Press, the world’s biggest and most trusted news organization, headquartered in New York.

AP Photo by Itsuo Inouye in 2012.

She received the AP’s Beat of the Week award in February 2014, for her report investigating the U.S. military’s handling of sexual assaults in its ranks in Japan. She received the same award in June 2011, for exposing how unprepared the Japanese nuclear industry had been for the tsunami. She won the AP Best of the Week in January 2024 for her stories on the Noto earthquake. She also won the NYSSCPA Excellence in Financial Journalism award in 2001, for the “Exploring the Global Economy” series of AP stories. She was also part of the AP team covering the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan, awarded the National Press Club breaking news-print category award, the APME award in breaking news and enterprise categories, the spot news award from Deadline Club in New York and the New York Press Club spot news award for newswires.

The link to Yuri Kageyama’s recent AP Stories.  

Photo by Eugene Hoshiko Feb. 27, 2023 when I interview the Tokyo prosecutors for The Associated Press. More photos of her working as a journalist in this link.   

Yuri Kageyama is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University and holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She has a diploma from the New York Film Academy in high-def filmmaking.

Her son Isaku Kageyama is a master taiko drummer, who has performed and toured with Yoichi Watanabe’s Tokyo-based Amanojaku since a youngster. A composer, educator, arranger, producer and percussionist, Isaku leads his own taiko group, the Los Angeles Taiko Ensemble, and has worked with a variety of artists, including tabla master Lenny Seldman at Swarthmore College, touring musical Batare, theater piece “Galileo” directed by MacArthur-grant recipient Yuval Sharon and Emir Cerman’s Rhythm of the Universe. In 2017, he was among the musicians for the San Francisco performance of Yuri Kageyama’s NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA, which became a film honored at several international film festivals. In 2021, Isaku came out with “Kageyama Taikos” from Impact Soundworks, featuring a digital library of his playing eight percussion instruments. In 2016, he performed with The Masterpiece Experience in Bucharest, Romania, and was also featured in Tommy Tallarico’s “Video Games Live: Level 5.” His compositions for taiko include “Rei,” written in honor of his master teacher Watanabe as well as the art of taiko. He has performed taiko and other percussion for the music for video games, including “Mortal Kombat 1” (2023), “Ghost of Tsushima” (2021) and “Phoenix Force”(2014). His 2009 “Hybrid Soul” features traditional Japanese folk music and other songs with rock/fusion guitar and bass. He also worked on the music for the Netflix animation series “Samurai Rabbit” (2022). Isaku Kageyama has taught taiko at Wellesley, the University of Connecticut, the Quincy Jones Elementary School, Brown University, Cornell University and many other schools, and has led taiko workshops in the U.S., Europe, Japan and South America. A magna cum laude graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. MAT in El Sistema from the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Los Angeles. He is the o-daiko (giant taiko) Champion at the Mount Fuji and Hokkaido, Japan contests.