Thanks so much!
“These are the stories most in need of being heard, and her crisp-but-provocative writing provides a vehicle both uncomfortable and enjoyable.” _ Todd Ellis.
HAIKU FOR SAGIMUSUME
A poem by Yuri Kageyama
Dance from white to red
A ghostly bride mirrored in snow
Killed by love, she still lives
I saw Kikunosuke perform the Kabuki dance “Heron Maiden.”
I’ve seen the dance by Tamasaburo many times, but this version was special, perhaps because his subdued though utterly elegant interpretation so perfectly highlighted the beauty of the story and the music, or perhaps just because a garden near where I live, Hamarikyu, has herons.
Now, I know they are so still, perched on a rock with their crooked necks, as though they know but don’t care they are forming a perfect picture for an artist, so intensely focused, ruthless in their silence and stillness.
What a bird it is _ and what an image, forlorn and fantastic at once, to depict the love of a Japanese woman.
It is not necessary to have seen herons every day or be a Japanese woman to appreciate this gorgeous theater piece.
But it helps.
And I thank the god of poetry for giving me the gift that allows me to witness how this great Japanese dance and the humble dignity of the heron can transcend the finitude and pettiness of society.
_ A poem by Yuri Kageyama
My voice screaming banzai
Ten thousand years banzai
Dying in glee as the divine devil wind
For the crane god whose voice I heard too late
My hand piercing your baby
A glob of meat with my bayonet
Raping girls in the name of comfort
Burning a city like a Sherman deranged
My heart that worships history
To win status as an honorary white
Bleeding streaks from a fluttering red sun
Despising those of the same yellow skin
My voice will never speak that way again
My hand will never act that way again
My heart will never feel that way again
No apology is enough but I promise
And I apologize
I get such a nice write-up by Tim Hornyak in No. 1 Shimbun, the publication of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, I can’t believe it is really about me.
It’s called The Many Lives of Yuri Kageyama.
And it brings together the sides of me I usually like to keep separate _ the poet in me and the journalist in me.
“The prose is unvarnished, unflinchingly personal and adroit in quickly juggling themes of child abuse, racism and sexuality while maintaining a narrative flow,” he writes.
“Kageyama’s poems have addressed stereotypes about race and gender roles. They’re made even more powerful when Kageyama recites them with collaborators such as Ghanaian percussionist Winchester Nii Tete on African drums and Keiji Kubo on didgeridoo. Against the backdrop of a traditional Noh stage, it’s a heady, globalized mix of words and music.”
Thanks to Tim. Thanks to all the musicians who have helped my poetry. Thanks to the poets, the literary publishers, the songwriters, the photographers, the filmmakers. Thanks to all the people of Fukushima who have shared their stories with me. Thanks, above all, to all the honorable, creative and dedicated colleagues I have at The Associated Press.
A birthday is very special for any little boy.
And a little boy is very special for any parent.
This book is an everyday but very special story about the trials and joys of growing up in an imperfect world.
THE VERY SPECIAL DAY by Yuri Kageyama (first published in KONCH, Ishmael Reed Publishing Co., 2013).
Illustrations by Munenori Tamagawa.
A TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN 2016 publication picture book, designed by Fengshui Iwazaki.
A story about how a defiant young woman tries to make a birthday a very special day for her child all by herself.
A story about how discrimination begins in the home, and how the fight against discrimination also begins in the home.
A story about ice cream at a birthday party and French Fries at the aquarium.
A story about how “they didn’t like us because we were Japanese American, and not Japanese.”
A story about how stars can be that cure-all ideal but no-cost spiritual present.
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.
OUR READING OF THE VERY SPECIAL DAY at Inokashira Koen, Tokyo, SUN Oct. 23, 2016. Featuring Live Painting by Munenori Tamagawa, the illustrator of the book.
Left to Right: Yuri Kageyama (writer and storyteller), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Munenori Tamagawa (visual artist), Ryan Carter (guitar) and Kouzan Kikuchi (shakuhachi). PHOTOS by Junji Kurokawa.
So I thought about what could be a very special day for Mama, and so I asked her: “Mama, what would you like to do on your funeral?”
Mama stopped moving all of a sudden, and I thought she might even spank me because it was so all of a sudden, though she hardly ever ever ever spanks me.
That was how sudden it was.
Then she went back to normal and said, “I want a lot of beautiful music.”
So I said very quickly to catch up with her suddenness, “Mama, I will play that music. I will.”
_ Excerpt from “The Very Special Day,” a story first published in KONCH: Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. 2013, and a TOKYO FLOWER CHILDREN picture book, published 2016.
More photos from Inokashira Park courtesy park organizers:
BOOK PARTY free admission
featuring LIVE PAINTING by Munenori Tamagawa and poet Yuri Kageyama’s YURICANE spoken-word band with Kouzan Kikuchi (shakuhachi), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Trupti (vocals), Hirokazu Suyama (tabla).
Special Guests Kenwood Dennard, Biankah Bailey, Jacqueline Mujaya , Taylor Mignon and more.
SUN Aug. 7, 2016 2 p.m. Infinity Books. 1F Komagata Bashi Heights Bldg , 1-2-4 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0001
SAT Aug. 13, 2016 2 p.m. Demi Cafe in sora Gallery. 3-14-1 Honcho Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo 85-0012
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.
$10 admission (free with student ID)
Discussion with audience and cast after each show.
For tickets and other information, please click on this special Z space site.
“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
“A commentary on what it means to be human in the 21st Century.” _ Basir Mchawi
“A beacon of light in a darkening world.” _ Paul Armstrong
“Tough yet faithful production and its dedication to truth-telling.” _ David Henderson
“The nuclear age of post-World War II Japan has never ended.” _ Hisami Kuroiwa
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. Documentary video of Fukushima 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, which had a debut run at La MaMa in New York in 2015, continues to develop and premieres on the West Coast at Z Space in San Francisco.
For more information, interviews and other queries:
Please click on Contact
BIOS OF THE ARTISTS:
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 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
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/
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 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.
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.
Yuri Kageyama reports with a photographer in the Fukushima no-go zone. Photo by Kazuhiro Onuki.
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.
A truly emotional experience. _ Liliana Perez child psychologist and Ph.D.
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 HEDNRIX: VOODOO CHILD.
Tragically, Fukushima is still constantly being shaken by earthquakes. 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.”
Fukushima: Excellent musical accompaniment to poignant poetry, with minimal yet imaginative staging and choreography. Musicians were absolutely superb! _ Nana pianist and New Yorker.
What a delight was the new theater piece featuring Shigeko Suga, which did a short run at La MaMa. Ms. Suga and her fellow performers glided beautifully with wit, authority and grace through the stylized performances. 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 in NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA to Melvin Gibbs’ bass. _ Katsumi a Japanese living in New York.
It spoke of what’s most critically needed in this age. Despite advances in civilization and culture, the power of emotions has weakened, and people don’t know how to talk to each other. 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, what we feel is so needed: Love. Love is not an abstract concept. It is about how we treasure our family, how we treat our lovers, our friends. 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 again. What I saw here is not just cultural collaboration but what is at the center of that _ a warm feeling, and the expression of the message that the world cannot go on this way. I pray more people will be able to feel love through seeing this performance. I pray as someone who believes in love. _ Toshinori “Toshichael Jackson” Tani dancer, member of TL Brothers and instructor.
An excerpt from NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: “Hiroshima.” Filmed and edited by Yuri Kageyama.
A Poem for Journalism
By Yuri Kageyama
A Tree, a Story, a Drum
Circles carved times over,
Coded rhythms of continents
Animal skin stretched, carefully nailed,
So our heartbeat is not lost _
The snare, congas, kpanlogo, tabla, taiko,
Talking drums speaking faraway tongues _
Stories killed, stories buried,
Stories denied, stories untold,
Perhaps we were just not stopped before
When our stories were not dangerous
But the Reporter is still here.
Hear the words
And see what they have seen:
Robert and Dori Maynard
Woodward and Bernstein
Hear that Music in the Skin,
Feel that Story in the Tree,
Banned by slave owners,
The Drum holds the Message,
The Pow Wow stirs in starlit nights
The Slap-Tone conviction that comes to us
The Dance cannot be silenced; listen:
Printers rumble, digital pages scroll, newspapers turn,
Borders fade into illusory walls,
Starving children, covered up documents, the ravages of war
The Voice through the centuries
Even if no one cares to hear the Answers,
Accurate, objective, fast, ethical
No matter what they say,
I am deranged but I am not deranged
I am fake but I am not fake
I am afraid but I am not afraid
I am the Drum, the Tree, the Story.
By Yuri Kageyama
shrieks growls wails moaning jagged cries that tell stories of the urban jungle wire and metal untamed animal half machine bleeding real blood never stops a never-ending pulse guerilla warfare of free music of onomatopoeia like a snake or a frog whose skin is always wet
GIFTS FROM THE DEAD
a poem by Yuri Kageyama
Graves are always There
for those Who are still
Alive to Forgive
They don’t Speak Back.
They don’t expect much
they are ready
to be Forgotten
So when You
Go There, You
will Be Forgiven:
Grave are Gifts
from the Dead
for the Living.
OH MY BUDDHA
_ a song about faith, love and other things
By Yuri Kageyama
My name is Yasodhara
Wife of Buddha
Mother of Rahula
I ride a white elephant
I am Siddharta’s woman
You took off to find Nirvana
Became a hero for the poor
You just took off one sunny day
And found enlightenment
While I’m stuck in the kitchen
Barefoot and pregnant, alone
You’ve started a religion
See statues in your likeness
Of gold and bronze and wood
Sitting prim on that lotus
While I’m having your babies
Feeding them, aborting them, alone
You remember I cooked you breakfast?
So you could go and contemplate
Sitting 49 days under the Bodhi tree
To discover, sacrifice, meditate?
While I’m crying in my misery
Breathing my prayers, alone
You’re a superstar
I’m a nobody
You live in history
I die unknown
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
My universe went up in smoke
My universe went up in smoke
Oh, my Buddha
Oh, my Buddha
Sung by Tea Tokieda and Read by Yuri Kageyama.
Music composed by Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda.
Bass by Hiroshi Tokieda, percussions/tabla by Hirokazu Suyama Jackson and shakuhachi by Kouzan Kikuchi.
At Infinity Books AUG 7, 2016, in Tokyo.
Inspired by and dedicated to Toshinori Kondo, who is constantly exploring the meaning of the Asian sound/literarture/self in the world, and told me once that we should all start saying: “Oh My Buddha,” like the way Westerners say: “Oh My God.”
So this is a song about what it would like to be the wife of Buddha _ that behind-every-man-is-a-woman story, and how we women are selfless in love and almost always invisible: