CONTINUOUSLY POETRY a bilingual collaboration by Osaki HANIYA and Yuri Kageyama with Toshiyuki “Turner” Tanahashi on bass

CONTINUOUSLY POETRY a bilingual collaboration by Osaki HANIYA and Yuri Kageyama with Toshiyuki “Turner” Tanahashi on bass. Tokyo. April 13, 2024.

1

Abortions, still births, defects at birth

Violent parents, cheating partners

Children who leave and never look back,

Cancer, dementia, the funeral wake.

Family of Errors

Betrayal, Psychosis:

If God created people perfect,  

We would just miss them too much,

When they die 

2

木漏れ日がさらさらと揺れて

靴の紐を固く締め上げる指先を撫で回す

1922年、T.S.Eliotは書いた

April is the cruelest  month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land

越冬用の木の実とともに今も

シマリスは瓦礫の下に横たわっている

3

ファミレスとはよくいったもんだ

愛おしい家族よ

ジョナサン、デニーズ

サイゼリア

虐待のスパゲティ

Sexual abuse ice cream

痣だらけのお子様ランチ

4

十字路を渡りかけて振り返ると

見知らぬ小さな人が 呟く

missing link

5

Searched for the names of 

Isaku’s Granpa and Granma; 

Made sure they were there: 

Their names, 

Years of birth 1923 and 1924,  

And Minidoka

Then shed a quiet tear. 

Ireizo-dot-com

125,179 Persons of Japanese Ancestry are known to have been incarcerated by the U.S. Government during WWII. 

We vow to remember them all. 

_ written Feb. 19, 2024

Remembering Executive Order 9066 on This Day.

6

山雪〈老梅〉の

四面の狂い

反対色

描きとどめ

回り続ける歳月の二針を

焼き付けても

ひと枝の花

金箔の首筋に熱

記憶というのは幾つくらいから始まるのだろう

白衣の老人が顔を寄せ合ってこちらを覗き込んでいる

見上げると茫洋とした灯りが

ゆっくりゆっくり旋回している

自転車に乗れるようになった頃

朝早くに母の使いで近くの寺へ行った帰り

停車中のトラックに自転車もろとも突っ込んだ

左膝にめり込んだ小石が私そっくりに笑っていた

剥落しているところがあるかもしれない

溢れた塩酸の夢

過度の奏上

エクスタシス排斥し

     * 狩野山雪〈老梅〉

7 (an English translation of sorts of 6)

 Sansetsu’s “Old Plum”

Madness across the surface,

Opposite colors 

He’s painted.  

Two switches from a spinning full moon 

Scalding

Sole flower on a branch

Turns to fever on a nape gilded with gold.

How old are we when memories begin?

Huddled old figures wearing white peer toward us; 

A vast light above

Slowly, so slowly, spinning.  

When I first learned how to ride a bicycle,

On my way back from the temple, running a morning errand for my mother, 

I slam into a parked truck, bicycle and all,

The pebble stuck in my left knee laughs, looking just like me. 

Maybe some parts have flaked off;

Overflowing acidic dreams

Excessive prayers

In exclusion of ecstasy

8

瓦礫の下で目を見開く2歳の私に

母の投身を描き終えた白昼の月に

欠損した踝から頭蓋へ

怒りの破裂を腑分けして

アイボリーブラック

ボーンブラック

1.82×1.225メートルの

ドロップブラック

始めましょう

展覧会

9

I know not where I am when I wake up

America or Japan

Hong Kong or Morocco

Heaven or Hell or Heaven on Earth

It groggily matters not whether Death

Or Life;

Purpose has Vanished

Never existed from the Start _

Not knowing, not mattering,

Like this poem That Is

At least Something,   

A wispy dream ending without sadness,

This last one from me

And one more from you.

10

別れの言葉

逡巡して

沈默を覆う渇いた唇

かつて私はヒトだった

もうヒトではない  

たくさん旅をした

国家

暴力

歪な科学が

じりじりと確実に腐生するなら

透層剤すべてが失われ

骨組み以外は何も残らず

わずかに装っていた善良さを

抹殺するだろう

RENSHI A poetic collaboration Part Two By Osaki Haniya and Yuri Kageyama

Our journey continues. Clich here for the first part of our journey. Below is where we pick up. May 1, 2024.

RENSHI

A poetic collaboration Part Two

By Osaki Haniya and Yuri Kageyama

連詩 第2弾

あなたと交わるのは

薄く大気が身動きする砂塵のあわい

雨と風と時が

廃墟の親和性を完成してくれる

そうだったね

徐々に思い出していくよ

倦んだ傷口と解剖メスの

刹那の痛み

白灰色の泥絵の具に

厚塗りの膠を重ねて

2

Native American Wisdom as Told by Urie Bronfenbrenner

A hip bone defect

Runs down family lines;

When they become warriors,

Some born

Can’t go riding

Can’t go hunting;

A brave white scientist

Maps out Blood

Lineage  

Crooks and crannies,

Buried in Genes;

No child will ever be born again

With a hobbled spine,

No such child will be born again

The brave white scientist is excited

“I have figured this all out,” he says;

“I know. I know.” 

But all the wise chief does

Is shake his head,

Deep pools of knowing  

Beneath the eagle feathers,

And he says these Words

That say it All: 

“We believe in Love.

We believe in Love.”

3

よく眠りなさいと言った母の声も届かない遠方に来て

無(なるもの)への郷愁など持ったこともなく

久しぶりに新古今和歌集を開いている

ーー草枕 旅寝の人は 心せよ

  有明の月も かたぶきにけり

辻を回ると養源院

異国の共犯者が作り上げた不在の輪郭に惹かれ

苦痛と憐れみと嫌悪感と

程よく煽られる感情の臭気と

あなたの所在を見失っても

迷うことはできないと知る退屈さと

4

(With introduction and music playing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together)  

I, I’m so in love with you

Whatever you want to do

Is alright with me

Cause you make me feel so brand new

And I want to spend my life with you

I bury the body, bloated and sagging,

Fat fingers that no longer hold

あなたの身振りに習うなら

臨床的良心によって射ち、つらぬき

微細な歪みを調合しなおし

名付け

印を彫り

忘却の漆喰から奪い取るでしょう

on Friday night, May 31th CE714

北海を渡ってタイン川へ向かう船室に り戻

紅茶が運ばれてくるまで眠った

すべては襖 の黄金のなか絵

あなたのノックで、やがて

夜の salutation が始まる

MY TWO POEMS IN ISHMAEL REED’S KONCH

My Two Poems in Ishmael Reed’s KONCH

My two poems are published in Ishmael Reed’s KONCH online magazine Winter 2024 issue.

What a thrill. And what company I keep.

My Poetry and Essays in Ishmael Reed’s THE PLAGUE ISSUES OF KONCH 2023

My Poetry and Essays in Ishmael Reed‘s THE PLAGUE ISSUES OF KONCH 2023

Ishmael and Tennessee Reed collected 62 contributions from people in China, Japan, Europe, Africa and the U.S. to write about their COVID experiences. And one of them is yours truly. The online collection of works crisscrossing the world and spanning two issues of KONCH literary magazine is coming out as a real-life book publication in 2024. On the cover is a photo taken in Venice of the poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, thinker and my forever mentor Ishmael Reed, standing next to a plague doctor (who else?) I am so happy, excited and honored. I can’t wait to get a copy.

A BROKEN FRAME a poem by Yuri Kageyama

THE BROKEN FRAME a poem by Yuri Kageyama

The ambulances are screaming. We look up and see a big tear in a steel fame right by our apartment building. We wonder but figure it’s not a murder because we don’t read about it, and there aren’t that many murders in Tokyo. Every time we see the broken frame, we wonder who it could have been. And what might have driven this individual, whom we don’t know and never will know, male or female, young or old, happy or unhappy, probably unhappy, literally over the ledge to a dark deep definitive leap of death. It does not make us feel very good. Every time we see that broken frame. A few weeks later, the frame gets fixed. And we stop wondering.  

FEARLESS AT 90 a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Photo by On Lim Wong

FEARLESS AT 90 a poem by Yuri Kageyama

I am fearless at 90

Wrinkles deep as the Nile

Hair translucent spiderwebs

Varicose veins throbbing blood

A map of fate on a carcass of skin

I am fearless at 90 

I rap poetry with my dentures

Jazz dance with my wobbly knees

I rock like Jimi Hendrix

We Boomers invented Revolution

I am fearless at 90

I’m so close to the pearly gates

I’m on speaking terms with the angels

I’m so near-sighted I read minds

My fungus breath slays dragons

I am fearless at 90

My wheelchair zips Ferrari-style

My voice resonates five octaves low

My cane duplicates as a samurai sword

My hearing aid just blocks out noise

I am fearless at 90  

I have no appointments to keep

No bosses to please

No dates to impress

No one can put me down

I am fearless at 90

I barely remember what’s up or down

Or who is where anymore;

Beyond gender, race, class,

Or even age

I am fearless at 90

My skin like washi paper

My fingers gnarled like a witch

I am neither man nor woman

White, black, brown or yellow.

I am just 90, and fearless:

Those days are long gone,

Not trusting anyone over 30,

I’ve given birth to a thousand children

And have a million grandchildren

I am fearless at 90

Although death is around the corner,

I’ve seen war and peace

Endured abuse to survive;

Don’t expect or need respect

I’m proud to be fearless at 90

^___<

Note from the poet:

I am not yet 90, but I feel this way and wrote this poem.

When I’m 90, I will write my real fearless at 90 poem.

The poem was published in the Winter 2024 issue of KONCH MAGAZINE.

NOTHING HAPPENS A poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

NOTHING HAPPENS なにもおこらない

A poem/song written and read by Yuri Kageyama

Featuring Tea on vocals and the YURICANE band with Hideyuki Asada (guitar, arrangement, audio mastering), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass) and Takuma Anzai (drums).

Photo by On Lim Wong.

I started working on this song in February 2019. It’s finally finished in 2023, as a recording, with singing and music. The piece is about how people like to talk about “what’s happening” or what’s going to happen. But most of the time, nothing happens. And nothing needs to happen. If anything, it can be a good thing when nothing happens. With the pandemic unfolding, the song became for me more pertinent than ever. I reworked the song to reflect that. 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.

Nothing happens なにもおこらない

_ a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

(1)

Nothing happens

Bombs no longer falling

Nations aren’t killing

Nothing happens

^___<

(2)

Nothing happens

Women aren’t screaming

Children aren’t starving

Nothing happens

^___<

(BRIDGE)

なにもおこらない

このきもち

なにもおこらない

しずけさ

^___<

(4)

Nothing happens

The stars will shine  

Behind clouds that hide   

Nothing happens    

^___<

(5)

Nothing happens

Birds, blossoms remind

The passing of time

Nothing happens

^___<

(rap section)

Nothing happens

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 curve gets 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

なにもおこらない

死ぬまえ

のこる生命で

えらんだ言葉

息ができない

彼のおもい

アメリカの差別

歴史のおもい

すべてすごくて

言葉がない

息ができない

息ができない

You know that’s the view:

No news is good news,

It’s so quiet you can hear it

Silence is the music

When NOTHING HAPPENS

^___<

なにもおこらない

このきもち

なにもおこらない

しずけさ

^__<

Nothing happens

The Virus descends     

Like a stranger of death     

Nothing happens

^___<

Nothing happens

We can forget the rest  

How we miss those days   

When Nothing happens

^—–<

And this is how the song all started; the clip below is from while it’s in the works (Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa):

Yuri Kageyama · NOTHING HAPPENS a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama with guitar/arrangement by Hide Asada

My other Virus Song (a side B to NOTHING HAPPENS if this were a CD like back in the good old days)

I AM THE VIRUS a poem written and read by Yuri Kageyama with piano by Nobutaka Yamasaki

photo by Ong Lim Wong

I am the virus

I thrive on mossy envious egos

They keep showing up

Offices, clubs, picnics,

Choosing being seen, hoarding

Over social dis-tan-cing

I am the virus

I fester in corona-shaped clusters

Commuter trains, cruises, crowds  

Peering at the Olympic torch,

I love the naming “Chinese virus”

The taunts, attacks on slant-eyed people

I am the virus

I cower when folks stay in

Takeout food, work from home,

A meter apart on solitary walks,

Wearing masks, washing hands,

Mixing aloe and alcohol

I am the virus

The crazy evil devoured

By doctors, vaccines, canceled concerts

Turning into live-streamed music,

People who remember to tell those they love

How much they really love them.

MY FILM, POETRY AND MUSIC IN TOKYO

News From Fukushima _ Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet,” directed by Yoshiaki Tago, gets a screening at Libra Hall in Tokyo SUN April 23, 2023, followed by My Poetry With Music.

The film documents a theater performance in San Francisco in 2017, directed by Carla Blank, starring Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva and Shigeko Sara Suga with music by Stomu Takeishi, Isaku Kageyama, Kouzan Kikuchi and Joe Small. Lighting by Blu. Video by Yoshiaki Tago. Written by Yuri Kageyama.

Poems in order of the reading: “I Am The Virus,” “Hiphop Fukushima,” “Nothing Happens,” “ode to the stroller,” all written by Yuri Kageyama with music by The YURICANE band featuring Nobutaka Yamasaki (piano), Takuma Anzai (drums), tea (vocals), Hiroshi Tokieda (bass) and Hideyuki Asada (guitar).

Yuri Kageyama · I Am The Virus _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama with piano by Nobutaka Yamasaki

I AM THE VIRUS

a poem by Yuri Kageyama, read with piano by Nobutaka Yamasaki

I am the virus

I thrive on mossy envious egos

They keep showing up

Offices, clubs, picnics,

Choosing being seen, hoarding

Over social dis-tan-cing

I am the virus

I fester in corona-shaped clusters

Commuter trains, cruises, crowds  

Peering at the Olympic torch,

I love the naming “Chinese virus”

The taunts, attacks on slant-eyed people

I am the virus

I cower when folks stay in

Takeout food, work from home,

A meter apart on solitary walks,

Wearing masks, washing hands,

Mixing aloe and alcohol

I am the virus

The crazy evil devoured

By doctors, vaccines, canceled concerts

Turning into live-streamed music,

People who remember to tell those they love

How much they really love them.

Nobutaka Yamasaki. Photo by On Lim Wong.
Yoshiaki Tago, film director for NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA. Photo by On Lim Wong.
Hideyuki Asada. Photo by On Lim Wong.
Takuma Anzai. Photo by On Lim Wong.
Hiroshi Tokieda and tea. Photo by Ong Lim Wong.
Nobutaka Yamasaki. Photo by On Lim Wong
From L to R: Toshiko Okada, Nobutaka Yamasaki, Yuri Kageyama, tea, Takuma Anzai, Hiroshi Tokieda, Hideyuki Asada.

PHOTOS by On Lim Wong.

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet _ now a film

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 now, years later, the 3.11 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. Video projected on the stage is by Yoshiaki Tago, who has turned the performance into an award-winning film.
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is a literary prayer for Japan.
It explores the friendship between women, juxtaposing the intimately personal with the catastrophic.
The piece debuted at La MaMa in New York in 2015, with music led by Melvin Gibbs. An updated version was presented at Z Space in San Francisco in July 2017. The film was completed in October 2018.

“A powerful reflection on the corruption and greed of men and their indifference to human life.” _ ISHMAEL REED

OUR “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA” honored at festivals around the world:

AWARD WINNER Mars International Film Festival in Marseilles, France, November 2023. 

OFFICIAL SELECTION Snow Leopard International Film Festival 2023.

OFFICIAL SELECTION LA Indie Film Festival 2023.

SEMI-FINALIST Montreal Arthouse Film Festival October 2022.

AWARD WINNER BEST NARRATIVE DOCUMENTARY Official Selection Bright International Film Festival August 2022.

FINALIST BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM Official Selection Indiefare International Film Festival August 2022. 

FINALIST Official Selection with online screening Crown International Film Festival August 2022.   

EXCEPTIONAL ACHIEVEMENT BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM Official Selection Multi Dimension Independent Film Festival Nov. 25 ~ 30, 2021.

BEST ART FEATURE FILM Official Selection Universe Multicultural Film Festival Oct. 29 ~ 31, 2021.

AWARD WINNER BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE Official Selection EdiPlay International Film Festival.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT Best Experimental Film Official Selection Swedish International Film Festival Oct. 28 ~ 31, 2021 online screening.

Official Selection International Migration & Environmental Film Festival Oct. 9 ~ 16, 2021 streaming online on Xerb TV.

Official Selection Los Angeles Asian Film Festival 2021.

Official Selection Jade Jaguar Cinema Festival in Brazil Aug. 22-31, 2021.

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE WRITER/SCRIPT DOCU-DRAMA FEATURE Official Selection WRPN Women’s International Film Festival Spring 2021.

FINALIST 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.

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), aired on PBS Guam June 2020.

Official Selection ARTS X SDGS film festival New York April 2020.

Official Selection 2020 Oniros Film Awards in Italy.

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.

FINALIST BEST ASIAN FEATURE FILM at the New Vision International Film Festival in Amsterdam September 2019.   

Online Screenings:

Screened online at the Swedish International Film Festival Oct. 28 ~ 31, 2021.

Screened online at the Japan Writers Conference Oct. 16, 2021. 

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.

Photo by  Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

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.

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

From the director CARLA BLANK
“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.”

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Ishmael Reed came up with the title for the 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.

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

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.

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

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.

“News From Fukushima” gave me shivers for an hour. _ Michael Frazier, poet and educator.  

A true masterpiece. _ Mitsuru, poet and author of “Akai Geisha.”

Bios of the artists in
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet

Cast, crew, filmmakers, director and writer of NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA

Cast, crew, filmmakers, director and writer of NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

THE PLAYWRIGHT
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

Carla Blank

THE DIRECTOR
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

THE ACTORS

Photo by Tennessee Reed

Photo by Tennessee Reed

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/

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

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 Sara. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Shigeko Suga Sara. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

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

THE MUSICIANS
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 (L) and Stomu Takeishi. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dofrman

Kouzan Kikuchi (L) and Stomu Takeishi. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

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 (L) and Isaku Kageyama. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

Joe Small (L) and Isaku Kageyama. Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

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.

THE FILMMAKER
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.

YOSHIAKI TAGO

YOSHIAKI TAGO

From the playwright YURI KAGEYAMA

“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.”

Acknowledgements
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.

Yuri Kageyama reports from the no-go zone in Fukushima. Photo by Kazuhiro Onuki.

Yuri Kageyama reports from the no-go zone in Fukushima. Photo by Kazuhiro Onuki.

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.

With director Yoshiaki Tago at the red carpet event.

In Amsterdam in September 2019 for the New Vision International Film Festival, where News From Fukushima was a Finalist Best Asian Feature Film.

more gala shots
News From Fukushima an Official Selection at the ARTS X SDGS festival

I talked about our film and all my great collaborators at the Silent River Film Festival, which screened NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA August, 2020.

https://www.facebook.com/SilentRiverFilmFestival/videos/644827306160921/

https://www.facebook.com/SilentRiverFilmFestival/videos/1021079638326778/

HAIKU FOR MY FATHER by Yuri Kageyama

HAIKU FOR MY FATHER by Yuri Kageyama

A dead man’s desk

Snacks he’s forbidden to eat

Magic tricks for grandchildren

My father died in his 70s, a big man with big ambitions, prone to cruelty and violence but just as quick with his brilliance, generosity and humor. He calmed down a bit with age. And it was natural he was far more loved by his grandchildren, who found him just hilarious, than by his daughters, who had found him oppressive. His desk upstairs had to be cleaned out after he died. My mother found bags of treats like nuts and kakinotane he was secretly eating, because his doctors had put him on a strict diet for his heat condition. She also found toy magic tricks he had also bought secretly and had been practicing to impress his grandchildren. They adored him, played games, ran around outside with him, going fishing or going on goofy rides at a tiny park. They would laugh and laugh with this old roly-poly man, who was really just one of them, never mind he was a former NASA engineer and university professor. My mother used to say my father always acted as though he couldn’t care less if his grandchildren visited or not. She wondered why he would say such an obviously untruthful thing. That was my father, too proud and too big and strong to admit to any weakness, like missing his grandchildren. There is nothing as heartbreaking as love because even love must come to an end with death. But love that can’t be expressed openly, and must be stashed away like magic tricks in the drawer of a desk. I don’t know what to call such love. But it is love.