Great company I keep in BIGOTRY ON BROADWAY, an anthology edited by Ishmael Reed and Carla Blank, Baraka Books, September 2021.
From the publishers on the book cover:
“How do intellectuals and scholars feel about how members of their ethnic groups are portrayed on Broadway? How would we know? Very few of them have the power to rate which plays and musicals are worthy and which are flops, and above all, be heard or read. The American critical fraternity is an exclusive club.”
A review in Library Journal Sept. 1, 2021:
“Blank and Reed offer an incisive, critical take on Broadway’s past and present; discuss an alternative vision that incorporates the perspectives missing from Broadway; and look toward a more inclusive future. A book for all readers interested in the history of Broadway musicals, theater criticism, and the role of whiteness in Broadway’s misrepresentations.”
A journal of my poetry, music and other thoughts that I kept from April through May 2020 about living in a post-pandemic world has now been published in the special issue of Ishmael Reed’s KONCH online literary magazine. And what great company I am in.
Thanks to the organizers for believing in my vision. And thanks to all the artists who put up with me and worked on the films. We are all so looking forward to taking part in the event.
Both films are screening (online as the event has moved because of the coronavirus outbreak) MON June 22 ~ SUN June 28, 2020.
THE VERY SPECIAL DAY is showcased in the “Newcomers Short” section for Short Films, while NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is in the “Trendsetters” section for Feature Documentaries at the Tokyo Lift-Off Film Festival.
(Written SUN March 22, 2020 as the world fights the pandemic over the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and I continue to be aghast at the utter lack of integrity among the supposedly best of us, the ignorance, selfishness, ugliness. )
An ode to the Asian Uncle Tom
A Yuricane poem (or does power always turn evil?)
by Yuri Kageyama
a painting collaboration by Munenori Tamagawa and Radio the Artist as Yuri Kageyama reads this poem written by Yuri Kageyama at What The Dickens in Tokyo Feb 4, 2018.
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
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
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,
You go to meetings,
Rehearse video appearances,
Take vacations to the Caribbean and Bali,
Sneer at Chinese going shopping,
Plan your retirement,
Only to whites
The writer Yo Nakayama has also translated my poems.
I so liked his versions I’ve read them with my poems.
Mr. Nakayama is an academic and a poet, too, and he has a flock of long hair and reading glasses maybe, and he is wise and soft and brave.
Or so I imagine, as although I maybe have met him, I can’t really remember.
I vaguely remember reading this review when I was younger, and frankly I didn’t really think much of it.
I was too busy dealing with things that went with trying to survive and being creative I did not really appreciate how this older poet was being supportive and so poignant.
And so poetic.
I am older now and do.
Nakayama died in 1997, it says online.
But his writing lives on.
Here, this person I know through Facebook, of all ways, has shared in a message this precious, kindhearted review of my work.
I am grateful, of course, and feel blessed.
But I also feel a sense of vindication about being a poet _ that we are all connected in doing the right, eternal thing by being poets.
Please read the review.
I’ve also updated my Review section on my site with this addition,
Sorry this is belated but thank you, Mr. Nakayama, truly from the poet’s heart:
Saying it her own way
a book review by Yo Nakayama in Kyoto Review, 22, Spring 1989
of “Peeling” by Yuri Kageyama, I. Reed Books, Berkeley, CA
New and important. Yuri Kageyama was born in Japan, but grew up in American culture.
Her work as contrasted with those of previous generations is very articulate and beautiful.
Should you take up this, her collection of poetry, you’ll find 32 exciting poems under five different sections.
In the first section she remembers time spent with her mother. Yuri seems to know where she is from, as here in a poem in which she describes her mother’s profile.
Her face from the side
the cheekbones distinct
is an Egyptian profile sculpture
an erotic Utamaro ukiyoe
and her mother’s lessons:
As soon as I would awake some chilly morning, she would
tell me to go smell the daphne bushes leading to our door.
I still remember their fresh fruitlike pungence
As Yuri grows older, she becomes uncomfortable with her mother and begins to hate her and her culture, which is alien to the American scene.
I dread your touch
when you return
that melts the hurt and vengeance
to strangle you
Yuri feels almost physically hurt when she thinks of it. This is one of the characteristics your easily notice in her poetry. She is a physical writer, by which I mean that Yuri tries to write out of her own physical senses, especially when she talks about her involvement with music. In a short poem, “Music Makes Love to Me,” she confesses, “Music makes love to me everyday/ spilling cooled cucumber seeds/ wet flat disks to the tongue/ tickling/ shooting them with exalta-jaculation into my ear//” or in the section “Thought Speak,” she conveys her inner sensations as she listens to music:
the frantic flap of love doves taking dawn pre-cognizing flight
outside our window
Or she describes her inner world as follows:
forsaken bamboo forest of the mind
burrowing darkness like the earth
muted and alone
As a young Japanese woman living in America, Yuri is constantly exposed to the situation that she has to say what she has to say: she, however, says it her own way, and I like it very much.
“A Categorical Analysis of the Asian Male or the Guide to Safe and Sane Living for the Asian Female” is a very funny piece in which she says there are four types: the Street Dude or “Lumberjack,” the Straight Dude or “Stereotype,” the Out There Dude or “Bum,” and finally the type four she calls the Ideal Dude, but this is the “Obake,” or the ghost, that is, she says “the perfect man who does not exist.” Once, Filipino writer Carlos Bulosan wrote that in America being a Filipino is a crime. And Yuri is, she says, “tired of the laundry men/ and the dirty restaurant cooks (cuz) they don’t have the powers.”
you see only the race in me
cuz, white man,
The best part of the book is, however, that which deals with her physical intimacy with her lovers and her own baby. She could have written a categorical analysis of a male partner or the guide to safe and safe mating for a serious woman as well. Only after she has a baby of her own, she begins to realize the importance of the “Strings/Himo,” which she once wanted so badly to break out and couldn’t. Her reflection on the total life: “Having Babies Versus Having Sex” is the final poem in this book. When she sees her man rocking the baby, and looks into Isaku’s eyes and cries with him, she reaches her conclusion: this is the culmination of her womanhood.
Are my eyes
That see and see what I have seen
They can’t ever understand
The love of a Japanese woman
Pale powdered hands
Eyes downcast night pools of wetness
Fifteen years for her samurai lover
And when he comes back
These poems could never have been written by anyone but a poetess who has gone through the labor Mother Nature imposes upon the one who creates. If not for Yuri’s sensitivity and capability, this book wouldn’t have been born.
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.
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet
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.
$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
The performers in NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: From left to right: Shigeko Sara Suga, Monisha Shiva, Takemi Kitamura (photo by Tennessee Reed)
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: THE PLAYWRIGHT
Yuri Kageyama. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.
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/
TAKEMI KITAMURA (CENTER). PHOTO BY TENNESSEE REED.
MONISHA SHIVA. PHOTO BY TENNESSEE REED.
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 (LEFT). PHOTO BY TENNESSEE REED.
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.
ISAKU KAGEYAMA. PHOTO BY KOJI SASAHARA.
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. PHOTO BY JUNJI KUROKAWA.
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 Reedpoet, 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 Perezchild 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 Armstrongartistic 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 Hendersonpoet, 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 Kuroiwamovie 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. _ Katsumia 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.