About Yuri (Biography)

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

Kageyama wrote NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet, an evolving multi-media 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, in a new adaptation, performed 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 by Melvin Gibbs.

She has three books 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 she put out with artist Munenori Tamagawa in 2016.

“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.

As a filmmaker, Kageyama has written, directed, shot and edited two shorts, “I Will Bleed” and “Story of Miu” while studying at the New York Film Academy in 2014. Yoshiaki Tago shot, directed and edited “Talking Taiko” (March 2010), which documented her readings and thoughts on her art. He is documenting the 2017 performance of NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet, in San Francisco, as well as showing his footage of Fukushima as part of the performance. Kageyama shot NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA when it was performed in New York in 2015, with editing help by Tago, to work as a trailer for the theater piece. Luis Silva, Adam Lewis, Rebecca MacNiece 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,” “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.” Her Bibliography.

Her poem “ode to the stroller” was featured in the Public Poetry Series in February 2015. The poem is being published in Tokyo Poetry Journal, set to be out 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, Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva, Shigeko Sara Suga, Kouzan Kikuchi, Pheeroan akLaff, Seamus Heaney, Stomu Takeishi, Geraldine Kudaka, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Isaku Kageyama, Hirokazu Suyama, Hiroshi Tokieda, Tea, Yuuichiro Ishii, Hide Asada, Winchester Nii Tete, Munenori Tamagawa, Blu, Sumie Kaneko, Mark Ong, Annette Borromeo Dorfman, Eba Chan, Hao Bai, Kaoru Watanabe, Nobutaka Yamasaki, 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, Joe Small, Kenny Endo, Rome Neal, Rodrigo Albuquerque, Raquel Prado and Desiree Cantuaria. The still photographers who have documented her readings include Junji Kurokawa, Eba Chan, Chris Chow, Jimmi Dong and Annette Borromeo Dorfman. Graphic designer Ian Lynam did the design of this site.

She has read 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, Kikokushijo Academy 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 artist locales.

She helped with 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 worked 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.

As a journalist, Yuri has worked for more than 25 years at The Associated Press. She was part of the AP team covering the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan. The AP coverage won 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. She received the AP’s Beat of the Week award in February 2014, with two colleagues, 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 was among the AP reporters who won the NYSSCPA Excellence in Financial Journalism award in 2001, for the “Exploring the Global Economy” series of stories.

She 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 film-making.

Her son Isaku Kageyama is a master taiko drummer, performing and touring for more than 10 years with Yoichi Watanabe’s Tokyo-based Amanojaku. He is a composer, educator, arranger and percussionist, working with a variety of artists including the touring musical Batare; theater piece “Galileo,” directed by MacArthur grant receipient Yuval Sharon; Emir Cerman’s multicultural ensemble Rhythm of the Universe; as well as with UnitOne at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute, for which he composted “REI.” He is an o-daiko (giant taiko) contest champion at Mount Fuji and Hokkaido, Japan. In 2016, he performed with The Masterpiece Experience in Bucharest, Romania, and was also featured in Tommy Tallarico’s “Video Games Live: Level 5.” He also composed music for the game “Phoenix Force.” He teaches taiko at Wellesley, the University of Connecticut, the Quincy Jones Elementary School, Brown University and many other schools, and leads taiko workshops in the U.S., Japan and Brazil. 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.

Motherhood is among Yuri Kageyama’s key poetic and life themes. She lives in Tokyo.