Poetry benefit for the 3.11 Japan quake/tsunami disaster

My haiku is in this poetry anthology “Sunrise From Blue Thunder,” a benefit for the relief efforts for the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

My Poetry in Pirene’s Fountain

My two poems “Haiku for Van Gogh” and “how to say ‘yes’ in Japanese” (coincidentally read in Tokyo recently) are published in Pirene’s Fountain.
The bio and poetry from inside the pages of the latest issue:
Yuri Kageyama is a poet and writer of bilingual and bicultural upbringing, born in Japan and growing up in Maryland, Tokyo and Alabama. She has two books, “The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now” (Ishmael Reed Publishing Co.) and “Peeling” (I. Reed Books). Her works appear in many literary anthologies and magazines, including “Y’Bird,” “Greenfield Review,” “San Francisco Stories,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Breaking Silence: an Anthology of Asian American Poets,” “POW WOW: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction from Then to Now,” “Other Side River,” “Beyond Rice,” “Yellow Silk,” “Stories We Hold Secret,” “KONCH” and “MultiAmerica.” She has read with Ishmael Reed, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Eric Kamau Gravatt, Geraldine Kudaka, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Winchester Nii Tete, Seamus Heaney, Takenari Shibata, Shozu Ben and many other artists. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University and holds an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. She is working on an oral history of Tokyo taiko drumming group Amanojaku, where her son Isaku Kageyama is a principal drummer. yurikageyama.com

Haiku for Van Gogh | ways of saying ‘yes’ in Japanese

Haiku for Van Gogh

An old wooden desk
Yellow dots of light shrieking
Van Gogh’s room

Warped plums dagger rain
Crazed geisha dance in ukiyoe oil
Breathe Van Gogh’s Japan

Sliced ear of love denied
Road to nothing ravens in flight
Genius of yellow

ways of saying ‘yes’ in Japanese

That’s the correct way of replying when spoken to in Japan for centuries, hai! the way people are taught in school, by their parents, what’s right in society _
respect for the hierarchy, yes sir, thank you ma’am, hai hai hai, like hiccups, like hiphiphurray, hai! hai! hai! no pause, no hesitation, no thought,
following orders, quick, no questions, grunt it out, soldiers at attention, yelling, spitting, believing, say it with all your heart and mind,

That’s the way people answer in Japan these says, haa~aai! the way people drop out of school, freeters, parents are just friends to follow only on Twitter _
flattening out the hierarchy, maybe yes, maybe not, haa~aai! like a mumble, like a whisper, a kiss on the ear, haa~aai, innocent, hurt only for others,
wind blowing in your hair, smiley faces heart icons in cell phones, improvise, imagine, immaculate, sing it without a care in the world,

A mention in the Cornell Alumni Magazine

My book “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling Till Now” in the Cornell Alumni Magazine:
“In her collection of new and selected poems, Kageyama debunks cultural stereotypes and explores how racism and sexism scar people.”

I have a new book out: "The New and Selected Yuri"

I have a new book out: “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling till Now,” Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. ( Amazon US site hardcover, Amazon Japan hardcover, Amazon US paperback, Japan paperback, and ebooks.)
Reed’s partner Carla Blank, author, performer, director, dance instructor, edited the book and led me every step of the way.
Reed, an award-winning poet, novelist, playwright and professor emeritus at the University of California Berkeley, where I was a student, published my first book of poems “Peeling” in 1988.
“The New and Selected Yuri” compiles the best of my writing _ poetry, fiction and essays _ from the 1970s, including my first poem to ever get published (also by Ishmael Reed) in iconic Berkeley literary magazine “Y’Bird” _ to today.
It is one of those strange happenings in life that has connected me to Reed over all these years.
I still don’t understand it at all.
Reed not only published my new book. He also wrote the Foreword:

The Yuricane

They’ve called Yuri “cute” often during her life. She’s cute all right. Like a tornado is cute. Like a hurricane is cute. This Yuricane. I found that out when she was a student at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1970s. One of her poems about iconic white women became an underground hit on campus.
In 2009 the audience at New York City’s Bowery Poetry Club was also blown away by her poem, “Little YELLOW Slut,” a devastating look at the way Asian women are depicted in the media.
The New and Selected Yuri includes poems like this; the manner by which Japanese women are imprisoned behind a “Noh mask,” but Kageyama doesn’t leave it at that.
Unlike many American Gender First feminists,she is capable of understanding how men are also victims of outmoded customs, though they are not dismissed merely as “reproductive machines,” as one minister was caught saying in an unguarded moment. Women should be “quiet” and have bok choy ready when the men come home from
drinking with the boys.
It’s also the women, who bear the miscarriages, the abortions, the rapes, the beatings from a father, who, years later, can’t give an explanation for why he did it. In the United States, the white men who own the media and Hollywood blame the brutality against women on the poor and minority men. White middle class women, and their selected minority women, who want to remain on their payrolls in business,
politics and academia, have become surrogates in this effort.
Courageously, Yuri Kageyama debunks this myth and correctly calls out men of all backgrounds and classes as women abusers. The father who inflicts gratuitous punishment upon his daughter is a NASA scientist.
These poems are honest. Blunt. When she says that writing a poem is like taking “a bungee jump,” she means it.
Very few of the world poets have Yuri Kageyama’s range. Her poems critique Japanese as well as American society. The Chikan. The arrogance of the gaijin, who, even when guests in a country, insist that everybody be like them. Some are erotic. You might find allusions to Richard Wright, Michelangelo, John Coltrane. Music is not only entertainment but like something that one injects, something that invades the nervous system.
I asked writer Haki Madhubuti, what he meant by African Centrism. He said that it was based upon selecting the best of African traditions.
Some of Yuri Kageyama’s poems might be considered Nippon Centric. She wants to jettison those customs that oppress both men and women, especially the women, and keep those of value. The Kakijun, The Enryo and The Iki.
Ishmael Reed
Oakland, California
July 8, 2010

I hope I live up to those words.

Haiku for Van Gogh

Haiku for Van Gogh
by Yuri Kageyama

An old wooden desk
Yellow dots of light shrieking
Van Gogh’s room

Warped plums dagger rain
Crazed geisha dance in ukiyoe oil
Breathe Van Gogh’s Japan

Sliced ear of love denied
Road to nothing ravens in flight
Genius of yellow

Haiku by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku by Yuri Kageyama

a blue plastic bag
so hard so still no more
Tokyo train tracks

in my deathly dreams
your sweet breath, fat knees, wet hands
a child forever

timeless tweet timeline
scroll blindly touch-panel light
mumbles of loneliness

I wrote these recently, the last one just a few seconds ago.
The first one is about the body bags that we see lying by the railroad tracks because a fair number of Japanese people commit suicide by flinging themselves in front of commuter trains.
It is stunning how the bags have an eerily impersonal color, and they are motionless and rigid.
But you can tell for some reason that it is a body in there, nothing else.
There is nothing that we can do as witnesses except to pray.
The body bags are a constant reminder of the otherworldly closeness of death amid the mundane like riding the commuter train to work.
They seem to increase during the winter months _ maybe because cold is more depressing than warm, especially if you are feeling down, and maybe because the year-end and New Year’s holiday season comes as a stark reminder of how extremely alone a lonely person really is.
My third poem is about Twitter, which I do quite actively because it is encouraged on my job.
I see how people want to connect to others, not just the people they know in real life, but to others they will never meet.
It’s called networking, and it shows how the world is a small place in this rapidly globalizing age.
As the world turns, the iPhone touch-panel whirls under your fingertips as you scroll the Twitter timeline, showing comments from all over the world, mostly about nothing, and photos of dinners and lunches and sunsets and pets.
It is a cool technology and a convenient tool.
But it is also about how people are alone but can’t stand to be by themselves.
People are lonely.
The poem in-between is about my recurring dreams, where my son, who is fully grown in his 20s, is still a toddler.
My little boy.
I wake up, looking for him, almost panicked, wondering if he is OK, and then I am relieved there is no need to worry.
It is just a dream.
I have always believed death would be like a dream, except you never wake up.
And so I realize these dreams are a reminder that I am still always reliving motherhood, though I am just growing older and getting closer to death.
I’m reliving that moment of motherhood, with my son being that eternal child, and death will not be an end at all but a recurring dream.
I feel as though I am going backward in time.
Life has no beginning or end.
Death is just a string of pockets of different dreamlike moments, in no particular order, in and out, falling and flying and rising, being lost in a blurry faraway dream.

Previous Haiku by Yuri Kageyama.

Yuricane after action

behold the egg

behold the egg
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

behold the egg
boil it with a pinch of salt
for the simplest meal
full of Vitamin D
behold the egg
paint it pink, blue, green
to hide and find for Easter
remember resurrection
behold the egg
embraced by a brittle shell
the secret of life
not quite round but whole
behold the egg
waiting blind and eyeless
for a blind, eyeless sperm
to give birth that can finally see
behold the egg
behold the egg

love over time

love over time
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

if you have to ask
it is not love
you would be there
right now
making that love
over time
if it is not
love now
if you can think
it is not love
life without your
giving that love
over time
into love

hey _ this poem is fit for a greeting card !
so perfectly timed: happy holidays.
not that i understand love at all.
but i do believe that if you can sit back and analyze if this or that relationship should or should not be pursued, well, that’s not love.
love means there is no other way of thinking.
love means no choices.
you have to be with this person and there is no other way about it.
you want to give, no conditions attached, despite all the betrayals, disappointments, hardships and maybe even the realization the love was just an illusion and not real at all.
over all that time, what you did, what you chose to stand behind _
and that you _ are real.
that’s not an illusion, right?
you are that person.
and all those years _ that history _ over which you lived life believing in that love, no one can take that away from you.
you earned it.
that’s love.

food for thot

food for thot
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

japanese cars must be like sushi, tempura, kaiseki
the designer pontificates at a party
to add value and defy the challenge from hyundai of korea
like yakiniku korean barbecue and bibimbap

think of all the poor people in india
the nun swishing her black habit prays
the chicken soup swimming in the urn turns into urine and
the bread into styrofoam sponge in our throats

let’s have a picnic here, mommy, OK?
my son plunks down in the grass
he eats boiled eggs, claiming his place in the japanese family,
believing they are delicious, the best in the world

when will my husband be able to eat again?
my mother asks the doctor, who answers, “never”
after brain surgery, tubes trickle paste through a hole in his stomach
he gurgles in mucus, his eyeballs batty with fright