The River _ a poem in the spirit of Hart Crane _ by Yuri Kageyama

The River with effects by Christopher Robert

The River with effects by Christopher Robert

The River
_ a poem in the spirit of Hart Crane _ by Yuri Kageyama

The River

Katsushika Hokusai’s hawks
Still eye this Sumida River
Crying their fue whistles
Echoing music on scuttling boats,
Carrying workers, travelers, modern-day geisha _
Some rickety, faded lanterns dangling,
Other ships are futuristic tubes of glass;
The torrents are dark with the wind,
Torn dreams of star-crossed lovers
Jumping tied by cloth as one
From the Kachidoki Bridge
No longer a draw-bridge, separating at the center,
The winding waves glisten in tips of white
Like the wings of seagulls that flutter
Only during the fall and winter seasons,

The River

In the rain, darting sideways sumi strokes,
Tiny people scamper across the landscape
The O-Edo “salarymen” and the “office lady” O-Ls
Faceless, hustling proletarian lives
Clasping sheer convenience-store umbrellas
Not the woven straw hats of the past
Tokyo Tower to the left
Sky Tree to the right
Stirring distant eternal visions,
Swimming in the Seine,
Sumida’s Sister River,
And Van Gogh’s deranged mind,
Sashaying to the ocean and the connecting skies,
Where the sun sets again,
Bleeding purple among wispy twisted clouds;
And the River churns,
Remembering glory,
Knowing sin
Through an anonymous city of lights

The River

(II)
The Birds

Kabuki’s answer to the Pelican
The Flamingo, the Albatross,
The Heron swoops through the sky
Perches so perfectly on a pine _
A princess in mirrored waters;

The humble Comorant
Dives beneath muddy waters,
Spreading battered wings to dry,
But in flight transforms _
A forgotten Black Swan;

The Sparrow plays, chirping staccatos,
Small furs of speckled brownness,
They play always searching
Like a lost forlorn child _
Unchanged from Issa’s poems.

the river with boats

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet _ soon to be a motion picture

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

SOON TO BE A MOTION PICTURE: We are now compiling a documentation of this performance as a film by Yoshiaki Tago, whose video was also part of the live performance. Tago shot the performance in San Francisco with Kate McKinley. Editing by Eri Muraki. PLEASE LOOK FOR INFORMATION ON SCREENINGS HERE ON MY SITE. We’ll do one first in Tokyo.

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

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

Ishmael Reed came up with the title for my performance piece: “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet.” As that suggests, the piece is 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 seek to address what society sees as “bigger” issues, such as the Fukushima accident, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the journalistic mission. But for me, they are all connected.

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

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

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.”

Strong threads of a woman’s point of view …. Excellent ….The issue of motherhood in looking at Fukushima is well done. And the candid shots of Obon in Japan are fantastic in the background. As are the shots of rows and rows of radioactive materials in plastic bags, just left in rows upon rows in Fukushima. I thought the production was very good, technically excellent, and very illustrative of a Japan we don’t hear about after the 2011 triple disaster. Go see it. _ Peter Kenichi Yamamoto, poet in San Francisco and coordinator at the National Japanese American Historical Society.

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is a memorable performance with well-researched narratives that throws you into a quest for humanity. _ Midori Nishimura, Stanford University professor and medical doctor.

A powerful message not to forget: Fukushima. _ David Ushijima, San Francisco business professional in retail, mobile, sensor-based and connected devices, Internet of Things.

It’s the kind of piece that keeps this from being forgotten. With all the other things going on in this world, we can forget about this, and we have a distance from them. But this kind of piece can remind us to return to it and continually reconsider the choices we make in our society. _ Adam Hartzell, writer at koreanfilm.org

Great music …. It left such an impression. A splendid performance. _ Seiko Takada, musician, “Kaizoku” vocalist/guitarist.

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is a powerful artistic response to disaster, informing us and inspiring us to compassion. _ Ravi Chandra, San Francisco-Bay Area poet, writer and psychiatrist.

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

Cast, crew, filmmakers, director and writer of NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA

Cast, crew, filmmakers, director and writer of NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA

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

Shigeko Suga Sara. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Shigeko Suga Sara. 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 Dofrman

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.

YOSHIAKI TAGO

YOSHIAKI TAGO

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.

An Ode to the Asian Uncle Tom _ A Yuricane Poem (or does power always turn evil?) by Yuri Kageyama

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

NOW PUBLISHED IN THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF KONCH edited and published by Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed.

An ode to the Asian Uncle Tom
A Yuricane poem (or does power always turn evil?)
by Yuri Kageyama

You sit prim with your glasses
Behind that desk, title, resume
Won on the backs of
The 442 Purple Hearts
Oblivious in your banal Banana-ism
To the fact that
Yellow is your Color
The most expedient, forgotten,
Cheapest of lives
Hiroshima
My Lai
North Korea
You sip white wine at ethnic restaurants
New York, Tokyo, Dubai, Bangkok
They all look alike
Smiling in Instagram posts
You have it made
You have them duped
You have arrived
Never mind, in your deepest fearful solitary moments,
You can’t help but pick out
Just those
Who look like you:
Race suddenly a Reality;
You must put them down,
And make sure they stay down,
Remain the invisible man, the invisible woman,
Establish as Fact through rumors and appraisals
That People of Color
Can’t be objective, and, be careful,
Get easily used,
You can do the math _ as the stereotype goes _
The slots are limited,
Tokenism being a zero sum game,
Diversity cannot be the majority;
You’ve long lost your ancestral accent
You’ve adopted the air of leaders
You’ve deleted memories
Of how we were all shackled,
We picked strawberries,
We built the Transcontinental Railroad,
We survived behind barbed wires,
Instead
You go to meetings,
Rehearse video appearances,
Take vacations to the Caribbean and Bali,
Sneer at Chinese going shopping,
Plan your retirement,
Asian American
Only to whites

OUR COLLABORATION AT M SPACE IN TOKYO

Our collaboration at Space M in Tokyo May 22, 2018.
The visual artists live painting: Munenori Tamagawa and Radio the Artist.
Hirokazu “Jackson” Suyama on Handpan
My Poetry read with rattles by yours truly “Mythical Monster” and “Hip Hop Fukushima,” both excerpts from my theater piece NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: MEDITATION ON AN UNDER-REPORTED CATASTROPHE BY A POET, which debuted at La Mama in New York in 2015, where Hiro also played the drum set and percussion. It was also performed last year in San Francisco Z Space.
Thanks to Kenji Taguchi for the video and for having our poetry at this fabulous showcasing of important visual artists.

MYTHICAL MONSTER
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

HIP HOP FUKUSHIMA
by Yuri Kageyama

Y’all, it’s a Meltdown nation
Since Three-Eleven
Covered in the fear
Of unseen radiation
But don’t you expect
Any revolution
All you will find
Is fear and contamination.

Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
Instead of a holler
Hear just a whimper
They say it is safe
The kids like Chernobyl
Are coming down sick
With Thyroid cancer.

Fukushima
Fukushima
Fukushima

Y’all, it’s no hallucination
The refugees’ life
No compensation
No resolution
Just nuclear explosions
Get your dosimeter
Cesium in the water
Lost Imagination

Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
The radiated Brothers
Faces are hidden
Goggles and masks
Like an astronaut
From head to toe
The Invisible workers

Fukushima
Fukushima
Fukushima

Premature aging
Nerve cells dying
Sterility, deformity
Unborn baby
Blood count dissipation
Leukemia debilitation
DNA radiation
Godzilla’s affliction

Tsunami Demolition
God’s DeCreation
Genetic Devastation
Our next Generation.
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
No-go zones forever
The World must remember.

Fukushima
Fukushima
Fukushima

ode to the stroller – a poem by Yuri Kageyama

A book party

A book party

MY POEM “ode to the Stroller” got published in TOKYO POETRY JOURNAL Vol. 5, dedicated to the Beat Poets January 2018.
THE BOOK PARTY AT OL TOKYO
37-10 Udagawa-cho
Shibuya, Tokyo
7 p.m. SAT Jan. 27, 2018.

Photo by John Matthews

All Photos by John Matthews

I read this poem with my YURICANE spoken-word band: Winchester Nii Tete (percussion), Kouzan Kikuchi (shakuhachi) and Hirokazu Natsuaki (cello), crossing borders so sounds, genres, cultures, people come together in a performance with no score but all soul.

th-5369141987-1556x1039

Motherhood poems are usually square or oppressive and so many women don’t like to write about motherhood. I chose pushing the stroller as a metaphor to depict motherhood in all its proper liberated glory. This happens to be in San Francisco because that is where I had my son and I pushed him around on strollers a lot. But it can be about any mom anywhere. The point of this poem is that it is location-specific and so it takes you on a journey, not only where the stroller went but also in our minds and our path of life like a movie.
We dedicate our performance to all mothers, including Mother Earth herself, and, of course, all the children.

20180127_ToPoJoWebRes__DSC5217

ode to the stroller
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

we zip weightless like silent angels
up and down San Francisco hills
running on the mother of all energy
greener than solar
rolling rolling rolling
with laughter
cream acid rock ‘n’ rolling
lightning dazzling wheels
gara-gara-gara-gara
teethers jangling dangling dancing
going mad on strangle-free rubbery ribbons
up and down the Avenues
J-town, Clement Street
Golden Gate Park
Museum of Modern Art
we are singing:
“Ouma no oyako wa nakayoshi koyoshi
itsudemo issho ni pokkuri pokkuri aruku”
perfume wind in our hair
springing over potholes
not even stopping just for breast feeds
connected as one through this magical machine
me pushing
you riding
the Lamborghini of strollers
the Gundam of strollers
the little train that could of strollers
up up up into the joyous clouds
zooming wheeeeee
down slurping slopes
around swervacious curves
we are one
yes, we are one
tied in the past with our
umbilical cord
and
even in death
in our dreams

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This version of my reading was recorded at Jackson’s Garage in Tokyo, with Hirokazu Suyama Jackson on drums, Yuuichiro Ishii on guitar and Hiroshi Tokieda on bass.
The poem is about young motherhood some time back, but I wrote this poem recently.
The feelings remain the same, eternal:

San Francisco
photo of San Francisco Sunset District 2017.

KENNETH REXROTH ON MY MIND

KENNETH REXROTH ON MY MIND

I took part in a poetry event in Tokyo’s Ginza to commemorate Kenneth Rexroth and Katsue Kitasono SAT June 9, 2018.
Avant-garde Beat Poetry Lives.
I read works from both poets, as a backdrop of slides of their visual works and portraits played, and one poem was a collaboration with shamisen.
Thanks to Professor John Solt for organizing the memorable experience and for including me.
I usually only read my own material.
And so this was quite a novel meaningful effort for me.
It was wonderful to see all the poets come out and read works by these two courageous poets who sought to explore worlds outside their limiting real borders.
I especially enjoyed a rendition of a Japanese translation of Rexroth’s writing about Kabuki.

The leaflet

Loving Younger Men _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama in collaboration with Yui Shikakura on shamisen and song

“Loving Younger Men,” a poem written by Yuri Kageyama, read by Yuri Kageyama with Yui Shikakura on shamisen and singing at Bar Gari Gari in Tokyo at a Drunk Poets See God gathering Dec. 22, 2017. Her song is traditional Japanese “kudoki,” in which a woman talks about being abandoned by her lover, a genre that is sad but also an erotic celebration.
“Loving Younger Men” was first published in BEYOND RICE, A BROADSIDE SERIES, Mango Publications and NOLO Press, 1979.
Loving Younger Men
a poem by Yuri Kageyama
Only the bodies of young men aroused her; the pure innocence in their wide dark eyes, the wild still animal strength in their muscles, the smoothness of their skin, so shiny, stretched out over their boy-like shoulders, flat stomachs, abdominals rippling gently, their thick thighs that could thrust forever into the night, their soft moist lips, where their tonges, so delicious, dwelt, which darted against, into her vagina, making her moan with joy, forgetting everything, which felt so strong against her own tongue at one moment, yet another, seemed to melt like caramel in the back of her throat, their dry fingers, that touched her in the most unexpected and expecting spots, their penises, half-covered by their black curls, seemed smaller, less developed, less threatening, yet as their shoulders strangely widened when they held her, their penises filled her, pointed against her deepest uterine insides, hurting her with a pleasurable pain, as though she could sense with her hand, their movements from outside her belly. Her father beat her as a girl. She ran from him, crying, please don’t hit me! please don’t hit me! No, rather she stood defiant, silent, silent tears drunk down her chest, till he, in anger or fear, slapped her again and again, once so hard she was swung across the room, once on her left ear so that she could not hear for three weeks. She frequented bars, searching for young men who desired her. She sat alone drinking. She preferred the pretty effeminate types _ perfectly featured, a Michelangelo creation, island faces with coral eyes, faces of unknown tribal child-princes. To escape her family, she eloped at sixteen, with an alchoholic. who tortured her every night, binding her with ropes, sticking his penis into her mouth until she choked, hitting her face into bruises, kicking her in the stomach, aborting her child, his child. The young boys’ heads, she would hold, after orgasm, rocking them in her arms. She would kiss the side of their tanned necks, breathe in the ocean scent of their hair, lick their ear lobes and inside their ears. When they fell asleep, sprawled like a puppy upon her sheets, their mouths open, she would lie awake watching, watching, watching, admiring their bodies, how so aesthetically formed, balanced, textured. What she enjoyed the most was their fondling her breasts, suckling, massaging the flesh, flicking the tongue against the nipple, biting, sucking till her nipples were red-hot for days. She could come just by this, without penetration. When she is alone, she cries. In the dark, she reaches upwards, into the air, grabbing nothing.

MY POETRY AT AOYAMA GAKUIN IN TOKYO

My poetry at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. With Yuuichiro Ishii guitar and Kouzan Kikuchi on shakuhachi. Film by Yoshiaki Tago. Photos by Junji Kurokawa. Thanks to Professor Marc Menish for having us. 2017 Open Lecture on Disaster, Trauma and Hope.

My poetry at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. With Yuuichiro Ishii guitar and Kouzan Kikuchi on shakuhachi. Film by Yoshiaki Tago. Photos by Junji Kurokawa. Thanks to Professor Marc Menish for having us. 2017 Open Lecture on Disaster, Trauma and Hope.

My Poetry at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. With Yuuichiro Ishii guitar and Kouzan Kikuchi on shakuhachi. Film by Yoshiaki Tago. Photos by Junji Kurokawa. Thanks to Professor Marc Menish for having us. 2017 Open Lecture on Disaster, Trauma and Hope.

We presented four poems that are excerpts from my NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: MEDITATION ON AN UNDER-REPORTED CATASTROPHE BY A POET:

MYTHICAL MONSTER

HIROSHIMA

HIROSHIMA

FUKUSHIMA

A MOTHER SPEAKS

the poster for the event

Not wanting to say “Me too” _ an essay by Yuri Kageyama

Not wanting to say “Me too”
_ An essay by Yuri Kageyama

I have written about sexual abuse many times, as a poet and as a journalist, but I have not talked about my personal experience with sexual harassment.
I was involved in what has been credited as the first sexual harassment case in the U.S. to surface at an academic institution.
That was the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a student.
It was a highly publicized case, but I requested, as did the other victims, to stay anonymous.
I remember I got a call from a fellow student to take part in a campus protest over the case. I told her I was reluctant.
But I had to join forces, she said, breathless over the phone, because what some of the women were saying was amazing.
She read from a letter that was part of the case against the respected professor at the Department of Sociology, a Marxist with a progressive reputation.
The letter went something like this: “We came to the university to get an education, to realize our dreams and to develop as people. The behavior of this professor is unethical, sexist and unprofessional.”
“And so can’t you come to the protest?” she insists.
I keep saying, “No.” But she insists.
And so finally I have to say it.
“I wrote that letter,” I tell her. “And I don’t want to join.”
She falls silent on the other end. It is a painful, sad and numbing moment.
And this is the same way I feel today, decades later.
I respect all those who are saying, “me too.” If there is any redeeming factor to coming out, it is in the knowledge of the systematic pattern of abuse _ that we are not alone, that this is not an extraordinary happening but everyday.
It must be OK to be victims, if it is practically everybody.
But I still don’t feel the trust.
I don’t feel anything good will come of it. And it is not up to the victims to bring justice to an abuser or a harasser. That is not our job.
I did not start the process back then, although I did write that letter when asked, for the investigation.
I had gone earlier to one professor whom I trusted. He shrugged and told me to grow up. He mentioned that he himself had married his student.
But word on the problem professor’s antics gradually got out.
The case initially divided the department _ between those who were stunned someone in their ranks would be preying on students versus those who thought the whole case was a ditched up witch hunt.
And so they did what grown-ups do. They hired an outside objective lawyer and investigator, from Stanford University, I believe, to talk to all the alleged victims.
I remember I was called into her office. Yes, it was a woman.
So I told her what happened, hesitantly, nervously, replying to her questions.
It was another painful, sad and numbing moment.
He had called to say he wanted to discuss one of my papers and told me to come to a downtown Berkeley cafe. But when I showed up, a little flattered a professor would want to talk about my work, he had not even brought my paper.
We sat at a table, dimly lit, in the fancier part of Berkeley that I had never been to before. He told me he was interested in me because I was Asian, and he was not interested in loud American women.
He made a joke, something about: “I’m the man. I like to be on top.”
He complimented me on what I was wearing, a top that appeared to have Asian motifs. It was one of my favorite shirts, and I happened to have it on when I talked to the lawyer.
And so I told her that was what I had on. She asked, apparently a part of an investigator’s modus operandi to see how reliable my memory might be.
As it turns out, at least one woman was physically attacked in his car. There was another student who was happy about becoming his lover, and told everyone he had changed her life, whatever that meant.
This woman’s existence was as alienating and depressing as the existence of the woman who was attacked was alarming and horrifying.
It didn’t help for me to know the one who was attacked was a woman of color.
I was just afraid. I did not want to go into the department halls in case he would be there, and I would have to deal with him.
Maybe I would not be as afraid today. But I was young, and he was an older powerful male, who had my future in his control, and he had specifically said he wanted me to do something that I did not want.
I was already feeling violated, weak and objectified. It was an awkward, sickening feeling.
Unfortunately, he was there once, in the department mailroom. Although I tried to get away, he approached me and asked that I retract the letter I had written in the case against him.
He promised in a pleading tone that I would get an “A” if I would retract the letter.
My case was one of the “more damaging” against him, another professor had explained to me, because I had gotten all A’s in my work in his class, as well as my other classes, but after I refused his advances, he had given a B for my overall grade.
You don’t want to even weep. You just want the world to go away, and you don’t want to think about it. You don’t want to talk about it. You don’t want to even remember it.
I never finished my doctorate, settling for my Master’s.
The professor found another job, in a prestigious institution in Europe, and left on his own, still insisting on his innocence.
The lawyer doing the investigation recommended dismissal.
So we were vindicated, of sorts.
Years later, when a woman asked for my advice about a sexual harasser in her office, I told her just to stay away from him, never be alone with him, assuring her that I with my friends would be there for her physically, to protect her, if any situation arose she had to be with him. But I advised against making a public complaint.
So I don’t shout out, “me too.”
At least, I managed to write this today.
It’s strange and it’s not right I remember so much of it, the tiniest details _ the tone of the lawyer’s voice, the look in the professor’s eye, the dark orange glow of that table _ when it happened so many years ago.
People don’t understand you don’t have to be particularly beautiful or outstanding to be a victim.
It’s usually mundane, pathetic and devoid of glamour, neither Hollywood nor the Olympic team.
Some men just look around to what is available, vulnerable, close to them.
And I was there, a student, in that department.
I had a flowery Asian shirt on. That was all.

MY READING WITH MUNENORI TAMAGAWA

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa

A COLLABORATION OF VISUAL ART, THE SPOKEN WORD AND MUSIC
THE VERY SPECIAL DAY
What: I read my poetry/story “The Very Special Day” while Munenori Tamagawa paints to guitar by Yuuichiro Ishii.
Where: Nagai Garou’s Tachikawa Gallery 1-25-24 Nishi Building 4 Fl Fujimicho Tachikawa, Tokyo TEL: 080‐9573‐5655
When: SAT Oct. 28, 2017 from 3 p.m. Reception party follows from 4:30 p.m ~ 6 p.m.
Who: Munenori Tamagawa, “the Basquiat of Japan,” has shown his work at the Seattle Art Fair, Tachikawa Art Brut and the streets of Tokyo, including Innokashira Park and the Shiodome Art Market.
Guitarist Yuuichiro Ishii, who studied recently at the Berklee College of Music on a prestigious scholarship, has performed with Fuyu, Mika Nakashima and Yusa, as well as my Yuricane spoken-word band.
Why: To celebrate the exhibition of Munenori Tamagawa’s recent works.
More What: Last year, Munenori Tamagawa and I created the children’s book THE VERY SPECIAL DAY, which brings together my story with his illustrations. More information on our evolving collaboration.
Artists make any day a very special day when we come together.


Video by Naomi Yoshida

Photo by Seiko

Photo by Seiko