Collaborative Poem by Sandile Ngidi and Yuri Kageyama (still untitled but ongoing; begun Aug. 31, 2020. all rights reserved by the artists.)
Poetry kins us to these basal stems.
Moisture is life.
Gardens petals fresh & resilient.
Mother breathes songs of roots strong.
Words curate a healthy leaf mass, fruits defying leaf scorch defining these heavy seasons.
Plumes as words dancing in the winds.
Dragonflies flutter by the slowly swelling river.
Moisture is life.
Blue-green of their wings play in the light.
Mother cries songs of currents deep.
Leaves of Grass bend soft with the seasons, shining dew recalling these tears of birth.
Plumes as words dancing in the winds.
Far in the somewhere of dazzling seas,
nothing stops the seasons of fruitful friendships.
Dancing field to field feeding the imagination,
it’s the spring of delights, radished words.
Grass gesturing towards well-shaped flower leaves, moistured mosaics of words.
Plumes as words dancing in the winds,
Tiny sparrows warble, not in fun but fear,
Scattering like debris, dirt, weeds and words,
Over oceans and deserts, swamps and streams,
The now of Dreams connect the All of history, the eternity of Forgotten nightmares.
Across seas the rooster is red,
Crowing in the weeds.
Greek sea edge sinking Black lives.
The wind is nightmarish.
In drying Eldorado Park, slain Nathaniel Julies is rising.
Fresh gardens strut their stuff,
A poetry skyline in full sun,
greening the eversick landscape. Life.
Poetry whispers in tanka and haiku,
Across oceans, red, blue, yellow and black,
Repeating of pain, repeating of life,
Repeating of love? Repeating,
Iwao Hakamada just smiles and believes
After the soft rains,
My epistle is no flower.
Naked, Black and pregnant,
Woman shot beast-like on a darkened Mozambique road –
God of Black women now rise,
in tanka-maskandi cries.
She is duped and gets easily used;
She is defiant and easily explodes;
She is vain, obsessed with appearance;
She let herself go, looks fat and shabby;
She is too quiet and can’t speak up;
She is psychotic and can’t shut up;
She is all these things, all at once,
Would you dance naked on your veranda
seeing madigras brass band
mad boots on grass,
killing your soul’s shongololo?
Beyond the gleam of your silverware, the sun still shines.
Shun the sun if drunk in the polemic of your vomit.
The palm tree is tall still,
Her robe translucent like briny waves
An ancient pagoda zooming to a giant moon
She will never come back
To an earth that’s unjust, unequal, unfree;
She will never look back
At those who have sought to capture her
Her eternal dance
We hello each other,
a morning ritual.
He walks into the dew,
whistling with the ancestors.
Mapholoba, a shepherd breathing poverty.
This dark mist, common as whites walking their dogs.
Seeing them pee with glee.
His dogged legs a plea.
Four an unlucky number,
sounding the same
as the word for “death,”
the 442 has two fours
and a two,
any even number unlucky,
inevitable separation coming,
and Go For Broke they did,
from desert Camps,
to win what they never had,
the right to be American,
not an enemy.
Casting a warm eye on this land
my line to kiss her forehead
give her gladness sandwiches
water my mother’s spinach
add black pepper to the seasons
good taste into the bowl
a poetry pot firing the broil
the slow dawn of a brighter day.
Taking a lazy walk next to this river
the gulls kiss the tips of the water
children laugh in floppy hats
I remember my father’s beatings
my mother’s Edamame
cooked in Salt, served with cold beer
a poetry pot firing the broil
the slow dawn of a brighter day.
Stratus clouds in the skies
Wishing blue skies smiled
Chuckled like Louis Armstrong
The air was friendly
Unbanning lazy solitude strolls
Poets oets perching in trees
Chickening every silly sunset
Dazzled by darkness
Her seductive light.
Dot the aging skies of night
With stories each window tells
That age-old face of every city,
Tokyo, LA, Johannesburg,
Breathing suicidal loneliness
With violence smoothed only by time
His seductive weeps
Await that trickle of dawn
after a long trip is a place
where one returns
changes into fresh clothes
puts the heavy load down
drinks cold water
eats porridge and amasi
while the dog licks wounds back to health
where suicidal fantasies die
hopelessly lacking any poetic imagination.
sighs of exhaustion breathe through
the night, screams of wind choked silent,
kissing pleats on rain-filled waters,
river to river, sea to sea, blood to blood,
is it dawn somewhere else?
do the birds care enough to remember
the messages from that somewhere else?
He says hi
inkabi back from jail
straw grass world
can’t be licked for first milk.
He’s a local
no hate blues.
Do I offer my hand
to the killer-ox
Body seducing sleep
Swinging on her axis
Tell the night be tight.
Behind the sun sleep is light.
In dreams lovers kiss the ground in flight
Saliva no dread on Covid lane.
Children dance the morning dew into song.
That needed daily fix of kimchee,
Granpa’s growling snores
Rattles shoji screens,
Like gently shaking maracas:
Where miso soup cooking,
And cooking and cooking
The peppermint morning air.
Even in dementia eyes:
A ring that sparkles,
Gem of yellow,
Rainbow and diamond,
Promising a love eternal,
Fool-proof, never betrayal,
Like the immeasurable,
Of Truth and
In a deadly pandemic
greed so pathetic
muzzled jingle bells
Wakashio in Mauritius
kills marine life
even after Fukushima
drills invade the Okavango
Death nudges closer
The pandemic world we share,
Skin cracked of disinfectant,
Sweat dripping on masks,
Prayer and hope,
Winston Monwabisi “Mankunku” Ngozi
Pain pierces the heart like an assassin’s knife.
See the restless sea.
Shingled memories, the coffee blues.
Rumours of Christmas in the warming moist air.
Humming with the moon, its tears.
Pleading for the lost lotus flower seeds.
one pandemic year
into the next,
those who hate
blinded to truth and fact
but we recognize
more than ever
what is important,
America, poop fools climb walls in tantrums.
Haters copiously eat garlic.
Whiteness is no guesswork.
Hard stools on TV.
For COVID-19 deaths to be sweet & swift.
In my hood, the owl headlines death.
A cry for a strong midrip.
The stubborn heaviness in our shoulders.
The bloodshot eyes, now we know,
our lives are being irrevocably torn apart.
Those who are ill, dying and dead, are familiar names.
Death is no longer a metaphor.
The nightmare. The nightmare.
Since we are already here.
Poetry of faith at the full.
Kindly keep these sandwiches, too.
To be shared at the golden hour
That poets dream of,
Even as it madly thunders.
Our poem will end
When we overcome;
We will celebrate
As we always do
Laugh, belittle, ridicule,
Call me naive
Whatever is up
To silence stereotype enslave.
The dread of your dying wick.
A single lung blighting all joy.
Memories of your dead mother.
Your pus-filled body.
A cry for green stones of home. Hot springs.
Jail is sad.
Prisoners die at this cursed hour.
Now on my kneeling mat, milling the moon.
At the local dumpsite, I flinch
improvise a mind-soul spin.
Kids playing atop the site,
happy-hip outdoor crib with a view.
Good times rolling like Kamala Harris,
dogs fighting over smelly nappies.
Kids running away, stained condoms
They are doing it.
it used to be simple
getting on a plane
breathing without a mask
touching a doorknob
and not being afraid
it used to be simple
laughing on an elevator
just going out
Mqombothi plastic cups.
Lives dangling on the lion’s jaws.
Ease the storm beloved ancestors.
We miss the magic of hugging the clay pot.
The odd belch.
The tickling cold stir on lips.
The Khongisa spirit.
Songs against thunder and disease.
(Section 35 was written by Sandile Ngidi on the day of the death of legendary South African vocalist, and his friend, Sibongile Khumalo, evoking the spirit of one her great songs, a prayer to the gods of Africa. Let us mourn in prayer this collective loss as we face a world torn by the pandemic.)
Shivers of monster icebergs
Fevers of raging forest fires
Fuzzy spikes running amok
Vessels organs flesh and muscle
Dropping phlegm immunity bombs
More virus more virus more virus
Tentacles piercing nails red-blue
Hoping to wipe out Humanity
Weighing who gets to live
Which rich nations get vaccines first
The vaccine arrives in the rain,
I wave on TV,
frown lines of relief.
Puppy-happy, playing fetch
The bride is here, for
Waves crash onto shore,
a swash of stars
arresting the frozen hours.
Maize seedlings ready, hands to earth.
Yurikamome float like lotus
Heaven on earth
This river of fruit and birth,
A moment in this pandemic Hell
That enslaves, rapes, steals,
Infections of greed and envy
Humming leaves giving rhythm to the reticent day.
Mapholoba off to his cattle post.
Our morning ritual in flight.
Salutes to sunrise.
Laughter shared like bread.
A mbhubhudlo bond.
The heaven of village handshakes.
Hot pink buds are shaking dew,
Airplanes roar over clouds of spring
And the weeping of sirens,
Piercing the city smog;
We wonder if it’s COVID-19
Or some other emergency;
We pray for anshin anzen,
Safe and secure,
As elusive as those broken promises.
Sibiya’s laughs are boiled maize kernels we throw in the air,
Right into our mouths.
Sweet rain drops.
In the wasp-killing sun, we breathe dreams into the soil,
Muting the weeping sirens.
The soil’s ulnar verse spreads and breaks like seawaves.
We are silk songs.
The poem is part of my theater piece and film NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet.
FUKUSHIMA a poem by Yuri Kageyama
It’s a Meltdown nation
Covered in the fear
Of unseen radiation
But don’t you expect
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.
Y’all, it’s no hallucination
The refugees’ life
Just nuclear explosions
Get your dosimeter
Cesium in the water
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
Nerve cells dying
Blood count dissipation
Our next Generation.
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
No-go zones forever
The World must remember.
OUR “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA” now honored at film festivals around the world:
Official Selection New Year Film Festival February 2021.
FINALIST Official Selection Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival February 2021.
HONORABLE MENTION Official Selection London International Monthly Film Festival February 2021.
BEST ECOLOGY DOCUMENTARY Official Selection Best Film Awards January 2021.
Official Selection FINALIST Beyond the Curve International Film Festival January 2021.
SEMI-FINALIST Official Selection Jelly Film Festival January 2021.
Official Selection Vancouver Independent Film Festival January 2021.
Official Selection Toronto International Women Film Festival January 2021.
BEST DOCUMENTARY Official Selection Rome International Movie Awards January 2021.
Finalist Official Selection Flixze Film Festival Jan. 5 ~ 6, 2021.
Official Selection Kalakari Film Festival May 15, 2021.
GRAND FESTIVAL AWARD – CINE DANCE POEM and WORLD PREMIERE at the Berkeley Video & Film Festival SAT Nov. 2, 2019, 6 p.m. East Bay Media Center Performance Space
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE WINNER Royal Wolf Film Awards December 2020.
NOMINATED BEST DOCUMENTARY BIMIFF – Brazil International Monthly Independent Film Festival November 2020.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Madras Independent Film Festival October 2020 Edition.
BEST EXPERIMENTAL DOCUMENTARY Sicily Independent Film Awards August 2020.
FINALIST Official Selection Montreal Independent Film Festival September 2020.
Official Selection Motion Pictures International Film Festival November 2020.
Official Selection Silent River Film Festival in California August 2020.
Official Selection Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival June 2020.
SELECT SHOWCASE Official Selection at the Guam International Film Festival (2019~2020), airing on PBS Guam June 2020.
Official Selection ARTS X SDGS film festival New York April 2020.
Official Selection 2020 Oniros Film Awards in Italy.
Screened online at the Toronto Film Channel Aug. 31, 2020.
Screened online at the Brazil International Monthly Independent Film Festival Dec. 9, 2020 through Dec. 15, 2020.
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet
Written by Yuri Kageyama | Directed by Carla Blank
Film directed by Yoshiaki Tago with camera work by Tago and Kate McKinley. Editing by Eri Muraki.
“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.
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.
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.
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. For me, they are all connected.
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.
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.
Awesome music and dancing! The haunting drumming, dazzling satire and the golden heart of a poet in protest. Nothing is under control when the environment is under siege. Aluta! _ Sandile Ngidi poet, Zulu/English translator, journalist and critic.
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.
The arc of history in every nation has its sadly forgotten men, women and children. Hauntingly powerful, NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA draws our eyes and hearts back to an ongoing, under-reported tragedy. _ Curtis Chin Milken Institute fellow and former U.S. Ambassador.
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
YURI KAGEYAMA is a poet, songwriter, filmmaker, journalist and author of “The New and Selected Yuri” and “The Very Special Day.” Her spoken-word band the Yuricane features 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 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
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/
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 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
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, 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.
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.” He has apprenticed for two years with Kodo, researched Japanese music as a Fulbright Fellow and holds an MFA in Dance from UCLA. He teaches at Swwarthmore College. 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.
YOSHIAKI TAGO, whose video was part of the live performance, has made NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA into a film. Tago also 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 served as film adviser for Takashi Murakami, and has worked with Nobuhiko Obayashi, Takashi Miike and Macoto Tezuka. He is a graduate of the prestigious Tokyo film school founded by Shohei Imamura.
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.
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.
A World Premiere screening at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival Nov. 2, 2019. From left to right: Festival founder and organizer Mel Vapour, director Carla Blank, writer/poet Yuri Kageyama and camera-person Kate McKinley. Photo by Tennessee Reed.
Accepting the award at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival Nov. 2, 2019. From left to right: Camera-person Kate McKinley, director Carla Blank, festival founder and organizer Mel Vapour and writer/poet Yuri Kageyama.
Photo by Tennessee Reed.
In Amsterdam in September 2019 for the New Vision International Film Festival, where News From Fukushima was a Finalist Best Asian Feature Film.
I talked about our film and all my great collaborators at the Silent River Film Festival, which screened NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA August, 2020.
THE VERY SPECIAL DAY IS NOW A VERY SPECIAL FILM
A collaboration with stop motion artist Hayatto.
Story written and read by Yuri Kageyama.
THE VERY SPECIAL DAY is an Official Selection at the New Year Film Festival and Hollywood International Golden Age Festival, both in February 2021, won Best Animation at the New Wave Short Film Festival, Milan Short Film Festival, Madras Independent Film Festival, 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) and the LA Sun Film Fest, in 2020, Honorable Mention Official Selection London International Monthly Film Festival February 2021, Official Selection Finalist Seoul International Short Film Festival, Semi-Finalist Jelly Film Festival and Finalist Official Selection at the Tokyo International Short Film Festival, in January 2021, Best Animation Short Winner at the Royal Wolf Film Awards and Special Jury Selection at the Roma Short Film Festival, both in December 2020, Official Selection Kalakari Film Festival May 15, 2021, Cyrus International Film Festival, New York Tri-State International Film Festival and the Silicon Beach Film Festival, Nominated Best Animation the Motion Pictures International Film Festival, Finalist Official Selection at the Sicily Independent Film Awards, the Pune Short Film Festival, Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival, Grand Jury Award Oniros Film Awards in Italy, Finalist Official Selection at the Košice International Monthly Film Festival, in 2020. It won the Silver Award Spotlight Short Film Awards, Honorable Mention Los Angeles Film Awards, New York Film Awards, Festigious International Film Festival and Top Shorts Film Festival, Award of Distinction Canada Shorts Film Festival, Best Animated film at the Hollywood Blood Horror Festival and was part of the Best Global Shorts film festival, in 2019.
“Your film brought us enormous pleasure and exhibits excellence in artistry and craftsmanship in noteworthy fashions.” _ Hans Krause, New Wave Short Film Festival.
“Brilliant concept and excellent execution. The structure works well.” ＿ Nami, Roy and the Los Angeles Film Awards team
A birthday is very special for any little boy. And a little boy is very special for any parent.
This is an everyday but very special story about the trials and joys of growing up in an imperfect world.
A story that’s a bit sentimental but honorable and true, written for all the children in the world.
May they stay safe, may they enjoy peace, may they find love and may they know who they really are.
Music by Kouzan Kikuchi, Hiroshi Tokieda, Ryan Carter and Isaku Kageyama.
Copyright All Rights Reserved by the Artists. August 2019.
“All my works deal with the theme of love, and I put a lot of love in my work. As soon as I saw Yuri’s THE VERY SPECIAL DAY, I felt the same kind of love in the story and knew at once it should be made with my stop motion. Stop motion requires arduous time: Each item is made by hand and moved a little bit at a time to create movement on film. A minimum of eight frames is needed per second. The number of handmade parts is considerable. I make everything myself_ alone but with love. Although, or perhaps because, it requires so much work, time and love, stop motion relays a nostalgic sense of warmth and frailty. When finally completed, it fills me with an emotion that makes me forget all the hard work that went into it. People will likely react in different ways to THE VERY SPECIAL DAY, but I can say it is filled with love. After all, everyone has his or her own “special,” and everyone realizes that what makes for this special ultimately is love, the greatest amorphous theme for humanity. I hope my work will help people around the world rediscover the meaning of love.” _ Hayatto
ONLINE SCREENINGS: Silicon Beach Film Festival FRI Nov. 13 ~ THU Nov. 19, 2020, extended through Thanksgiving. TUE Nov. 10 ~ WED Nov. 11, 2020 at the Motion Pictures International Film Festival.
I started working on this song in February 2019. It’s about how people like to talk about “what’s happening” or what’s going to happen. Most of the time, nothing happens. Nothing needs to happen. Now with the pandemic unfolding, the song is more pertinent than ever. I reworked the song to reflect that. And in June 2020, I added the rap section in Japanese that refers to the death of George Floyd. We must not forget how precious those moments are when horrible things that can happen don’t happen, and we can just sit back and enjoy the passage of time, when utterly nothing happens.
Still a work in progress but the audio:
Nothing happens なにもおこらない
_ a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama
Bombs no longer falling
Nations aren’t killing
Women aren’t screaming
Children aren’t starving
The stars will shine
Behind clouds that hide
Birds, blossoms remind
The passing of time
We took it for granted
Nothing is boring
Nobody up to no good
Looking for something
Something to happen
Before the coronavirus
Now we wake up to numbers
Pray the curb goes flattened
Pray it’s no one we know
Waiting for a vaccine
Scared by the sirens
Italy, New York, Spain, Wuhan, Tokyo
Now nothing else happens
Nothing else can happen
Now you know it:
Now you wish you didn’t wish it
Now you know for sure you like it
When Nothing happens
Yeah, nothing happens
Please, please let nothing happen
You know that’s the view:
No news is good news,
It’s so quiet you can hear it
Silence is the music
The Virus descends
Like a stranger of death
We can forget the rest
How we miss those days
When Nothing happens
My AP Story Feb. 24, 2021 on Nissan’s former chief executive testifying in a criminal trial.
My AP Story Feb. 19, 2021 on Honda’s tapping a research expert as its new president.
My AP Story Feb. 14, 2021 on another protest in Tokyo against the military coup in Myanmar.
My AP Story Feb. 11, 2021 about thousands of people from Myanmar in Japan demanding democracy back home.
My AP Story Feb. 15, 2021 about Japan’s economy growing in the final quarter of 2020 in a gradual recovery from the pandemic slump.
My AP News Alert and Story Feb. 13 ~14, 2021 on the strong earthquake that hit northeastern Japan.
My AP Story Feb. 10, 2021 on Toyota’s earnings recovering from effects of the pandemic.
My AP Story Feb. 9, 2021 about Nissan staying in the red amid pandemic, Japan criminal trial.
My AP Story Feb. 9, 2021 on Honda’s profits rising despite pandemic damage.
My AP Story Feb. 8, 2021 on SoftBank’s profit zooming on lucrative investments.
My AP Story Feb. 8, 2021 is the Markets report for the day.
I’m a contributor to this AP Story Feb. 12, 2021, the day Mori is expected to officially resign.
I’m a contributor to this AP Story Feb. 4, 2021 about a Japanese Olympic official facing calls for resignation after a remark apparently belittling women.
My AP Story Feb. 3, 2021 on Sony’s profits booming on “Demon Slayer” hit.
My AP Story Feb. 1, 2021 on how Nintendo’s profits are soaring as people play games during the pandemic.
My AP Story Jan. 12, 2021 on the testimony of Nissan’s former COO on how the automaker sought to hide Carlos Ghosn’s pay.
My AP Story Jan. 7, 2021 on Japan declaring a state of emergency for Tokyo, and three nearby prefectures, after coronavirus cases surge.
My AP Story Jan. 8, 2021 on the first day for Japan under the state of emergency.
My AP Story Jan. 11, 2021 on the Japan material for The Latest on the virus.
My AP Story Jan. 10, 2021 on the Japan material for The Latest on the virus.
My AP Story Jan. 9, 2021 on the Japan material for The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic.
My AP Story Jan. 6, 2021 on coronavirus cases reaching a daily record in Tokyo.
My AP Story Jan. 4, 2021, a co-byline with our AP Sports Writer, on pandemic worries looming as the countdown clock for the postponed Tokyo Olympics hits 200 days to go.
My AP Story Jan. 1, 2021 on the emperor turning to video for his New Year’s Day message.
I do stories and sometimes photos and video for The Associated Press, the world’s biggest and most trusted news organization. The link to all my stories in 2019 and 2018, and I’m starting anew here with all my AP Stories in 2020, the Year of the Mouse:
My AP Story Dec. 11, 2020 about Dentsu and the corporate sponsors behind the Tokyo Olympics.
My AP Story Nov. 16, 2020 about Walmart selling majority of its stake in Seiyu, retaining 15%.
My AP Story Nov. 16, 2020 on Japan’s pandemic-hit economy returning to growth.
My AP Story Nov. 13, 2020, a co-byline, on the growing skepticism about going ahead with the Tokyo Olympics. My AP Photo below:
My AP Story Nov. 13, 2020 on Nissan’s damages case against an absent Ghosn starting in Japan.
My AP Story Nov. 9, 2020 on actors playing the young and old Hokusai in the closing film of the Tokyo International Film Festival.
My AP Story Oct. 28, 2020 on my interview with Masaharu Take, the director of “Underdog,” the Tokyo film festival’s opening film.
My AP Story Oct. 23, 2020 about a Japanese youngster’s online message counseling.
My AP Story Oct. 14, 2020 on Japanese director known for single shots releasing Zoom film.
My AP Story Oct. 9, 2020 on judo in Japan getting scrutiny over abuse and violence.
My AP Story Oct. 23, 2020 on Japan, Britain signing a post-Brexit free trade deal.
My AP Story Sept. 25, 2020 about a civil lawsuit demanding damages from a Roman Catholic priest, bishop and the diocese in northeastern Japan.
My AP Story Oct. 19, 2020, about Japan’s trade data.
My AP Story Oct. 10, 2020 about a storm swerving to the south of Japan.
My AP Story Sept. 24, 2020 on the tiny Rubik’s Cube going on sale in Japan.
My AP Story Sept. 14, 2020 on Naomi Osaka, who just won the U.S. Open, and her Japanese corporate sponsors.
MY COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL OF GREG KELLY AND NISSAN:
My AP Story Nov. 11, 2020 on the defense starting to cross-examine the key prosecution witness.
My AP Story Sept. 29, 2020 about a Nissan employee testifying against Greg Kelly.
My AP Story Sept. 15, 2020 on the trial of Greg Kelly and Nissan opening in Tokyo.
My AP Story Sept. 6, 2020 on Nissan former executive Greg Kelly’s trial.
My AP Story Sept. 13, 2020 that’s a Q&A on the upcoming trial.
My AP Story Nov. 12, 2020, on Nissan reporting losses amid pandemic and the Carlos Ghosn scandal.
My AP Story Aug. 20, 2020 on reports about Carlos Ghosn’s undeclared personal income.
My AP Story July 30, 2020 about Greg Kelly’s trial set to start without Carlos Ghosn.
My AP Story Sept. 4, 2020 on Nissan’s new production technology to make
carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP, components, faster and better.
My AP Story Aug. 31, 2020, an obit on Osamu Masuko who used to head Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
My AP Story Aug. 28, 2020 on Japan’s “flying car” taking off with a person on board.
My “One Good Thing” AP Story Aug. 20, 2020 on how a museum portrays the pandemic through everyday things.
My AP Story Aug. 10, 2020 on Japan legacy of forced labor.
My storytelling out of Tokyo is a part of this global AP Story July 14, 2020 on how small businesses are struggling to survive amid the pandemic.
My AP Story Sept. 17, 2020 on Netflix trying to grow in Japan.
My AP Story Sept. 8, 2020 on Japan’s economy shrinking in the April-June quarter even worse than initially estimated.
My AP Story Sept. 5, 2020 on Typhoon Haishen approaching.
My AP Story Sept. 2, 2020 that updates on the typhoon story.
My AP Story Sept. 1, 2020 on Typhoon Maysak bringing rain and wind to southern Japan.
My AP Story Aug. 17, 2020 on Japan’s economy shrinking at a record rate, slammed by the pandemic.
My AP Story Aug. 19, 2020 on Japan’s exports plunging amid crush from pandemic.
My AP Story Aug 19, 2020 on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying he just went for a checkup.
My AP Story Aug. 17, 2020 about Japan’s prime minister visiting a hospital, setting off speculation about his health.
My AP Story Aug. 4, 2020 on Sony’s profits up as people staying home play video games.
My AP Story Aug. 6, 2020 on Toyota’s profit plunging as pandemic halves sales.
My AP Story Aug. 5, 2020 on Honda reporting loss as virus hits sales.
My AP Story July 15, 2020, on Nissan showing its first all-new major model, an electric crossover, since getting embroiled in the Carlos Ghosn scandal.
My “One Good Thing” series AP Story June 22, 2020 on how high school baseball players will be getting Koshien Stadium dirt in a memento from the professional Hanshin Tigers.
My AP Story June 14, 2020 on the Black Lives Matter march in Tokyo.
The Japan bit for this AP Story Aug. 1, 2020 is by yours truly.
The Japan bit for this AP Story July 31, 2020 is by yours truly.
I’m a contributor to this July 31, 2020 AP Story on the Tokyo Olympics by my colleague.
My AP Story July 1, 2020 on a Bank of Japan survey showing companies’ sentiments at lowest in more than a decade.
I contribute the Japan material for this AP Story July 28, 2020 on “whitening creams” around the world.
My AP Story July 28, 2020 on Nissan expecting second straight year of red ink amid outbreak fallout.
My AP Story July 27, 2020 on Mitsubishi Motors racking up losses on the pandemic pain.
My AP Story June 29, 2020 on Nissan executives facing angry shareholders after fiscal losses and the Carlos Ghosn scandal.
My AP Story July 29, 2020 on the commander of the U.S. Forces in Japan affirms U.S. support for Japan on China dispute.
My AP Story June 25, 2020 on SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son leaving the board of Alibaba.
My AP Story June 19, 2020 on the economy reopening cautiously, balancing health risks.
My AP Story July 3, 2020 on Japan formally filing the extradition request with the U.S. on two Americans arrested in Massachusetts and accused in his escape.
My AP Story June 11, 2020 as the saga of Carlos Ghosn returns as Japan seeks the extradition of two Americans, recently arrested in the U.S., and wanted in Japan on suspicion of having helped a criminal escape, meaning that extraordinary flight of Ghosn to Lebanon hiding in a box.
My AP Story June 12, 2020 on the high court upholding a lower court conviction on data manipulation for Mark Karpeles, who headed a Tokyo bitcoin exchange that collapsed.
My AP Story May 28, 2020 on how Nissan is closing auto plants, in Spain and in Indonesia, as it sinks into losses for the first time in 11 years.
My AP Story April 26, 2020 on how Japan is low-tech and challenged
My AP Story May 23, 2020 on the virus outbreak today.
My AP Story May 22, 2020 on the Bank of Japan helping provide lending to small and medium-size businesses amid pandemic hardships.
My AP Story April 11, 2020, an obit on Nobuhiko Obayashi, who devoted his works to depicting war’s horrors and singing the eternal power of movies.
My AP Story Jan. 23, 2020 with AP Photos by my colleague Jae C. Hong on the homeless of Tokyo and how they fear removal as the Olympics approach.
My AP Story May 6, 2020 on a 16-year-old who cared enough to come up with a free iPhone app to help people record their whereabouts to track possible virus infection.
My AP Story June 18, 2020 on money-losing Mitsubishi says executives will take pay cuts.
My AP Story May 18, 2020 on Japan sinking into a recession amid the pandemic.
My AP Story May 21, 2020 on how exports are plunging for recession-hit Japan in their worst fall in a decade.
My AP Story May 7, 2020 on how Nintendo profits rose as people stay home and play video games amid the pandemic.
My AP Story April 10, 2020 on Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda promising the Japanese auto industry will save jobs.
My AP Story April 2, 2020 on the workers at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
My AP Story April 3, 2020 on how the Athletes Village for the Tokyo Olympics could house virus patients.
My AP Story April 3, 2020 with My AP Photos on a paternity harassment case in Japan.
My AP Story April 2, 2020 on SoftBank ending its tender offer on WeWork.
My AP Story April 20, 2020 on Japan’s exports in March diving over the pandemic.
My AP Story March 8, 2020 of our daily virus story roundup, focusing on Italy’s quarantine of its northern areas.
My AP Sports Story March 2, 2020 on how the Japanese professional baseball season is in doubt.
My AP Story March 4, 2020 on a minister commenting about the Tokyo Olympics perhaps being postponed until later in the year.
My AP Story Feb. 15, 2020 with yet another photo by Jae C. Hong on how the U.S. Embassy says Americans aboard the quarantined ship will be flown home.
My AP Story Feb. 17, 2020 on 99 new cases confirmed on the Diamond Princess.
My AP Story Feb. 21, 2020 on how the virus outbreak may slash $29 billion from airlines’ revenue.
I’m a Contributor to this AP Story Feb. 17, 2020 on Americans getting flown out, off the cruise ship Diamond Princess.
My AP Story Feb. 17, 2020 on the Japanese economy sinking amid virus fears.
I’m a Contributor to this AP Story Feb. 16, 2020 on the ongoing virus outbreak and reactions from the world, including Japan.
My AP Story Feb. 12, 2020 on how Guinness certifies a Japanese as the oldest man.
And My followup Story Feb. 25, 2020 that he died.
My co-byline AP Story Jan. 29, 2020, on how the new virus poses a threat to a fragile world economy.
I am a contributor to this AP Story Feb. 7, 2020, about how the flow of Chinese tourists has declined after the virus outbreak.
Mario like Mickey? My AP Story Jan. 31, 2020, on how Nintendo is banking on profits from characters.
My AP Story Jan. 30, 2020, on how Toyota’s global vehicle sales for last year trails Volkswagen’s.
My AP Story Feb. 25, 2020 on Japan ordering 20 more Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
My AP Story Jan. 27, 2020 on how Bryant’s death is drawing tributes from Asia.
THE YEAR STARTS OFF WITH MY COVERAGE OF CARLOS GHOSN
My AP Story Jan. 9, 2020 about how Ghosn as fugitive is bringing global attention to Japanese justice.
My AP Story Jan. 30, 2020 on how Japan is seeking the arrest of Ghosn and three Americans who allegedly helped his escape.
My AP Story Jan 4, 2020 on how Ghosn’s lawyer is as outraged by Japan’s legal system as by the escape.
My AP Story Feb. 13, 2020 on Nissan sinking into losses as vehicle sales plummet.
My AP Story Feb. 18, 2020 on Nissan’s shareholders’ meeting where some began shouting angrily about crashing stock prices, zero dividends and quarterly losses after the Ghosn scandal.
My AP Story Feb. 12, 2020 on Nissan suing Ghosn seeking damages.
My AP Story Jan. 12, 2020 how the lawyer tallied the questioning of his client without a lawyer present, found it averaged seven hours a day.
My AP Story Jan. 3, 2020 on what’s known and not known about Ghosn’s case after his escape.
My AP Story Jan. 7, 2020 on arrest warrant for Nissan ex-chair’s wife Carole and Nissan saying Ghosn is still responsible for “serious misconduct.
My AP Story Feb. 28, 2020 on Japan sending justice official to Lebanon.
My AP Story Jan. 5, 2020 on Japan saying Ghosn’s escape was inexcusable, and it has ordered an investigation
My AP Story Jan. 10, 2010 on Ghosn’s lawyer slamming Japanese justice minister’s gaffe about suspects having to “prove” innocence.
My AP Story Jan. 16, 2020 on Hironaka and his team quitting from Ghosn’s defense.
My AP Story Jan. 17, 2020 on Ghosn’s lawyers refuting Nissan’s take on what happened.
My AP Story Jan. 6, 2020 on Justice Minister Masako Mori telling reporters Japan will improve border checks, bail after Ghosn flight.
My AP Story Jan. 3, 2020 on how Ghosn made his escape on a chartered plane, a co-byline with my colleague in Turkey.
My AP Story Jan. 1, 2020 on how by jumping bail, fugitive Carlos Ghosn is burning bridges to Japan.
My AP Story Jan. 2, 2020 on how prosecutors are raiding Ghosn’s Tokyo home.