Hirokazu Suyama reads my poem “ode to the stroller”

Drummer Hirokazu Suyama reads my poem “ode to the stroller” and teaches me and moves me more than I knew I could have ever hoped for.
Thank you, Hiro, for your music, for believing in my poetry and for simply being so special.
Read at the Japan Writers’ Conference in Okinawa.
Nov. 2, 2013.
Film by Adam Lewis of Okinawa Vision.
We are really one.

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
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
even in death
in our dreams

Life at Berklee

Life at Berklee:
Isaku in Berklee with Amelia Sophia Ali, Hiroshi Tokieda, Hirokazu Suyama.

My latest is in KONCH magazine, an Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed publication

My prose poem “Dec. 12, 2012, The Very Special Day _ a Prose Poem” gets published in the October issue of KONCH magazine, an Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed publication. It is a story about the discrimination in Japan against Japanese Americans. It is also a story of survival. It is a story about defying discrimination. And I am in great company in this publication with the likes of Alejandro Murguia and Ishmael Hope.

Haiku for Disco _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku for Disco _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Too Tired, Brain Is Dead
Chukah Thomp, Chukah Thomp, Chukah Thomp,
Disco Is Music.

Some people who know a lot about music look down upon disco because of its simple repetitive rhythm and how the genre has played in to the evil money-making music industry machinery (although other genres have done this, too). What is being overlooked is that this simple repetitive rhythm, which gets people off their seats and out on the dance floor, speaks to people who work hard all day and need to forget, can’t think, but want to groove _ not those academics who want to sit around, focus on more intelligent music to analyze, contemplate and articulate. Call it dumb. Call it what you will. Call it the primordial beat. I am alive. That is what disco music says. And that is the most important thing any music, any art, any writing can say.

(video from Jimmy Clary, via Hiroyuki Shido)

a message to children

a message to children

Children, it is a myth that loving someone is this fairy tale.
It’s just pain that defies logic.
If we chose a person to love by logic or by weighing advantages, that won’t be love.
But whatever that essence in our soul that makes us love _ despite how foolish and painful and useless it is _ is what drives music, poetry, life, art, meaning.
It’s like this: No matter what your child is who is born to you, no matter how sick or disabled, male or female or in-between, no matter, it doesn’t matter, you as a mother would instantly love that child.
So if one loves another adult as partner, friend, collaborator, roommate, lover, it is, in principle, no different.
If you were giving to get something out of it, that wouldn’t be love, just a contract.
That’s why love is not even really needed for survival, which is about other things.
Love is so filled with suffering, so unrewarding and draining in its own right, it is utter madness.
So, children, go out and love this world.

blank spaces over generations _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

blank spaces over generations
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

my father was
slapped for
buying a
book of
that his father
thought was
a rip-off _
so many
blank spaces

i was
a poet
long before i
anything else
so i didn’t
worry about
money or how i
was going
to make a living or
all the

my son is
a drummer
he doesn’t yet
know the
blank spaces
of the world
are a gift
from that
who was beaten for
a book

A Facebook Post Upon Reading a Facebook Post

A Facebook Post Upon Reading a Facebook Post
_ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

I saw your post about not wanting children.
I do feel bad.
But more than that
I feel I understand exactly how you feel as that is how I felt all through my 20s, actually until I had you.
Then I knew or I think I knew that having you was the most wonderful thing that had happened in my life.
I just feel bad you feel the wa
y you do _ not only because we were “bad” parents and didn’t give you a bright happy childhood full with Elmo smiles _ but more because I was exactly that kind of person, like you, who didn’t want children at all.
The world is such a horrible place and what child would want to come into such a horrible place?
And if parents are all imperfectly human, then how could any parent live up to the task?
I am exploring these ideas and more in the writing that I am doing now and always have _ since you were born.
Maybe that is selfish because a child is real with real needs, not like writing which is more unreal than real.
But I am convinced more than ever that you are the best thing that happened in my life.
And it is not anything that you will do or you will become or you will say or feel.
Nothing can change this simple fact.
It is beyond any explanation or any argument or any question.
It is so very unreal.
And real.
Like Music.
And so maybe someday you will have that magic of a child.
Somewhere inside of you from where your music is born a child is waiting to be born _ to you.

Japanophile Part 2 A Story by Yuri Kageyama

The toys piled up, evidence being submitted to prove an absent mother’s love.
The colorful trading cards were those warm hugs that were never given, the video-game cassettes in the dozens were those sleepless feverish nights forgotten, and the tiny cars that scuttled across the linoleum threatening to trip adult feet were those lullabies that fell silent. I wanted to prove I loved my toddler son, still too young to understand that I needed those hours away to pay the rent.
“When are you going to quit your job?” he would ask now and then, choosing a quiet moment he knows will get my full attention.
This is a serious question to be contended with. I want to cry. I would quit right now, if I could. But I don’t know how to tell him that.
His legs are starting to break out in hives, and because he scratches at his raw skin with his little clawlike nails, his calves are constantly bleeding.
Once I got a call from the social welfare office, wondering what’s going on. The doctor that I take him to for these allergies, as that’s what it is that is causing this itching, is giving me funny stares.
“My mommy doesn’t come home for a loooooong loooooong time,” I hear my son telling the doctor in his usual high-pitched singsong voice.
I was able to take some time off work the first few years after his birth. I dutifully followed the advice of La Leche League to breast-feed him as long as he wanted, or almost as long as he wanted, which turned out to be two years, after which I had to decide this was it.
He would cuddle next to my breast, sucking although he had grown to be more a little boy than a baby, staring into my eyes with total trust and the glee of possession, sometimes biting my nipple with his teeth or pulling with clamped lips until I had to ask him to stop. His looks said he was proud to have this privilege, especially because he no longer needed the nourishment.
A woman who happened to walk by remarked, “Oh, you are not working? So he doesn’t know the reality that is waiting for him; does he?”
I clearly remember the I-know-it-all expression of superiority on her face as though she had appointed herself a shaman fortune-teller, as do all those working women who went before me.
At least, they get to do that _ tell others what’s coming.
Even after my son started school, he didn’t really have a mother. I found out his friends were asking him: “Do you have a mother?”
It was a cruel, brutally straightforward question that children have a way of coming up with, but it was a valid question.
If others had moms picking them up and making nice lunches, and he didn’t, where was this mother?
Where was I for this child? Did this make me really a mother? Did I just want a child so I could have a child but without doing the job of being a mother?
I had to wipe the thought out of my mind when I was working. I had to forget.
Forgetting, you’d think, is something that happens naturally, what you thought you had tucked away in memory, some fold in your gray matter, slipping away. Oh, I forgot. But this was a different kind of forgetting.
It took a lot of concentration. But I was able to forget. If I did not forget, I would have lost my mind.
But I did forget.
But was this child able to forget?
Or did he have to fight the gnawing loneliness with all his might, fighting back tears and telling himself: “My mommy doesn’t come home for a loooooong loooooong time,” over and over?
It makes me afraid.
I cannot imagine such loneliness. To be a child and not have a mother. To be that tiny dot in the sky like a star all by itself in the universe and not know what is up or down, or if and when this horror will ever end.
To know not only that you are alone but that you are alone in this loneliness, that every other boy and girl had a mommy, that soft warm cuddly woman who came to pick kids up and made nicely decorated lunches.
How could a little mind forget? Even with all the colorful cards, games and tiny cars, reminding you that I do love you, how could he ever forget?
In his high school, there was one day hot lunch was not served, some strange practice to encourage parent-child bonding. My son didn’t even tell me.
I happened to see him jump into a convenience store to buy his lunch. That’s how I found out.
I felt a hot gush of guilt and sorrow as though it was enveloping me from the top of my head, the strange feeling I felt when I watched my father eat or my sister cry over nothing, when I was growing up.
I still have not figured out what this emotion meant. It tasted sour, like tiny pieces of glass, inside my mouth.

Proud Mom: Isaku in action in Boston

A Link to Isaku in action at Berklee College of Music in Boston with Sumie Kaneko on shamisen.
And two more clips on this blog. Thanks for posting.

Poet Yuri Kageyama, Drummer Pheeroan akLaff and Filmmaker Yoshiaki Tago

YURI KAGEYAMA, a poet of both worlds Japan and America, American drummer PHEEROAN AKLAFF and Japanese filmmaker YOSHIAKI TAGO come together to tell a pan-Pacific tale of pain, love and survival that defies racism and sexism over moments and generations.

Witness, celebrate and join in this exhilarating crossing of barriers of cultures and genres to debunk stereotypes and find free expression.

MON Aug. 6, 2012. 8 p.m. (door opens 7:30 p.m.)
at Live space plan-B (4-26-20 B1 Yayoicho Nakano-ku, TOKYO.
FREE ADMISSION (Donations welcome for plan-B).

Yuri Kageyama is the author of “The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now.” Her works, winning praise from literary giants like Ishmael Reed and Shuntaro Tanikawa, appear in “Y’Bird,” “Pow Wow,” “Breaking Silence,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Konch” and “Phati’tude.” She has read with Eric Kamau Gravatt, Isaku Kageyama, Ashwut Rodriguez, Seamus Heaney, Shozu Ben, Victor Hernandez Cruz and the Broun Fellinis.

Pheeroan AkLaff is a New York-based drummer and composer. He has played with Rashied Ali, Oliver Lake, Henry Threadgill, Cecil Taylor, Yosuke Yamashita and Andrew Hill. A headliner at many festivals including Moers and Nurnberg, he is in Japan on the “Dear Freedom Suite” tour with Jun Miyake and Toshiki Nagata. He has led an ensemble dedicated to John Coltrane’s music. He teaches at Wesleyan University.

Yoshiaki Tago directed “Worst Contact,” “Believer” and “Maid in Akihabara,” and served as assistant director on many Japanese feature films. A graduate of the prestigious Japan Academy of Moving Images, Tago frequently works on TV shows and promotional videos for pop artists, major companies and government projects. He is documenting Kageyama’s readings with music in a work-in-progress “Talking TAIKO.”

For more information, email yurikageyama@yahoo.com or 090-4594-2911