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

 

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

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.

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

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), airing on PBS Guam June 2020.

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

Official Selection 2020 Oniros Film Awards in Italy.

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

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
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 my 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.

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

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/

Magic 50 of COVID-19 Poems by Sandile Ngidi and Yuri Kageyama

Magic 50 of COVID-19 Poems by Sandile Ngidi and Yuri Kageyama (From Aug. 31, 2020 ~April 5, 2021. All rights reserved by the artists.)

1 (S)

Poetry kins us to these basal stems.

Moisture is life.

Gardens petals fresh & resilient.

Mother breathes songs of roots strong.

Words curate a healthy leaf mass, fruits defying leaf scorch defining these heavy seasons.

Plumes as words dancing in the winds.

2 (Y)

Dragonflies flutter by the slowly swelling river.

Moisture is life.

Blue-green of their wings play in the light.

Mother cries songs of currents deep.   

Leaves of Grass bend soft with the seasons, shining dew recalling these tears of birth.

Plumes as words dancing in the winds.

3 (S)

Far in the somewhere of dazzling seas,

nothing stops the seasons of fruitful friendships.

Dancing field to field feeding the imagination,

it’s the spring of delights, radished words.

Grass gesturing towards well-shaped flower leaves, moistured mosaics of words.

Life.

4 (Y)

Plumes as words dancing in the winds,

Tiny sparrows warble, not in fun but fear,

Scattering like debris, dirt, weeds and words,

Over oceans and deserts, swamps and streams,

The now of Dreams connect the All of history, the eternity of Forgotten nightmares.

Yes, Life.    

5 (S)

Across seas the rooster is red,

Crowing in the weeds.

Greek sea edge sinking Black lives.

The wind is nightmarish.

In drying Eldorado Park, slain Nathaniel Julies is rising.

Fresh gardens strut their stuff,

A poetry skyline in full sun,

greening the eversick landscape. Life.

6 (Y)

Poetry whispers in tanka and haiku,

Across oceans, red, blue, yellow and black,

Repeating of pain, repeating of life,

Repeating of love? Repeating,

Iwao Hakamada just smiles and believes

In God.       

7 (S)

After the soft rains,

Blooms fresh.

My epistle is no flower.

Naked, Black and pregnant,

Woman shot beast-like on a darkened Mozambique road –

Drowning soldier-savagery

Shamed seasons.

Lizalis’idinga lakho,

God of Black women now rise,

in tanka-maskandi cries.

Poppies.

8 (Y)

She is duped and gets easily used;

She is defiant and easily explodes;

She is vain, obsessed with appearance;

She let herself go, looks fat and shabby;

She is too quiet and can’t speak up;  

She is psychotic and can’t shut up;

She is all these things, all at once,

Deranged.

9 (s)

Would you dance naked on your veranda

seeing madigras brass band

mad boots on grass,

killing your soul’s shongololo?

Beyond the gleam of your silverware, the sun still shines.

Shun the sun if drunk in the polemic of your vomit.

The palm tree is tall still,

yet peaceful.

10 (Y)

Her robe translucent like briny waves

An ancient pagoda zooming to a giant moon

She will never come back

To an earth that’s unjust, unequal, unfree;  

She will never look back

At those who have sought to capture her

Her eternal dance

Gagaku

11 (S)

We hello each other,

a morning ritual.

He walks into the dew, 

whistling with the ancestors.

Mapholoba, a shepherd breathing poverty.

This dark mist, common as whites walking their dogs.

Seeing them pee with glee.

Peace.

His dogged legs a plea.

Ulaka lwabaphansi.

12 (Y)

Four an unlucky number,

sounding the same

as the word for “death,”

the 442 has two fours

and a two,

any even number unlucky,

divisible,

inevitable separation coming,

and Go For Broke they did,

from desert Camps,

to win what they never had,

the right to be American,

not an enemy.

13 (S)

Casting a warm eye on this land

my line to kiss her forehead

give her gladness sandwiches

water my mother’s spinach

add black pepper to the seasons

good taste into the bowl

a poetry pot firing the broil

simmering hope

the slow dawn of a brighter day.

14 (Y)

Taking a lazy walk next to this river

the gulls kiss the tips of the water

children laugh in floppy hats

I remember my father’s beatings

my mother’s Edamame

cooked in Salt, served with cold beer

a poetry pot firing the broil

simmering hope

the slow dawn of a brighter day.

15 (S)

Stratus clouds in the skies

Wishing blue skies smiled

Chuckled like Louis Armstrong

The air was friendly

Night undaunting

Unbanning lazy solitude strolls

Poets oets perching in trees

Chickening every silly sunset

Dazzled by darkness

Her seductive light.

16 (Y)

Skyscraper windows

Unblinking light

Dot the aging skies of night

With stories each window tells

That age-old face of every city,

Tokyo, LA, Johannesburg,

Breathing suicidal loneliness

With violence smoothed only by time

His seductive weeps

Await that trickle of dawn  

17 (S)

after a long trip is a place

where one returns

changes into fresh clothes

puts the heavy load down

drinks cold water

eats porridge and amasi

while the dog licks wounds back to health

where suicidal fantasies die

hopelessly lacking any poetic imagination.

18 (Y)

sighs of exhaustion breathe through

the night, screams of wind choked silent,

kissing pleats on rain-filled waters,

river to river, sea to sea, blood to blood,

is it dawn somewhere else?

do the birds care enough to remember

the messages from that somewhere else?

19 (S)

He says hi

inkabi back from jail

straw grass world

exhaustion

brute storms

leopard lonesome

blood-heavy yoke

motherless calf

can’t be licked for first milk.

He’s a local

no hate blues.

Do I offer my hand

to the killer-ox

talk weather

disgust Bushiri?

20 (S)

Body seducing sleep

Swinging on her axis

Tell the night be tight.

Behind the sun sleep is light.

In dreams lovers kiss the ground in flight

Saliva no dread on Covid lane.

Children dance the morning dew into song.

Laughter.

Phezu komkhono!

Bujitsu

21(Y)

That needed daily fix of kimchee,

Granpa’s growling snores

Rattles shoji screens,

Like gently shaking maracas:  

Where miso soup cooking,

And cooking and cooking

Wafts through

The peppermint morning air.

22 (Y)

Memories repeat

Even in dementia eyes:

A ring that sparkles,

Gem of yellow,

Rainbow and diamond,    

Promising a love eternal,

Fool-proof, never betrayal,

Like the immeasurable,

Unfailing Worth

Of Truth and

Freedom.

23 (S)

In a deadly pandemic

blackened skies

hellish eyes

greed so pathetic

so trump-manic

muzzled jingle bells

Wakashio in Mauritius

shits oil

kills marine life

kills food

kills kanji

even after Fukushima

drills invade the Okavango

kill life

kill laughter

Pula.

24 (Y)

Death nudges closer

The pandemic world we share,

Skin cracked of disinfectant,

Sweat dripping on masks,

Prayer and hope,  

Remembering music:

Winston Monwabisi “Mankunku” Ngozi

25 (S)

Pain pierces the heart like an assassin’s knife.

See the restless sea.

Shingled memories, the coffee blues.

Rumours of Christmas in the warming moist air.

Humming with the moon, its tears.

Pleading for the lost lotus flower seeds.

Impepho.

26 (Y)

one pandemic year

blurs

into the next,

those who hate

must hate

blinded to truth and fact

but we recognize

more than ever

what is important,

and who

27 (S)

America, poop fools climb walls in tantrums.

Haters copiously eat garlic.

Whiteness is no guesswork.

Hard stools on TV.

For COVID-19 deaths to be sweet & swift.

Trumps.

In my hood, the owl headlines death.

A cry for a strong midrip.

Palms.

28 (S)

The stubborn heaviness in our shoulders.

The bloodshot eyes, now we know,

our lives are being irrevocably torn apart.

Those who are ill, dying and dead, are familiar names.

Family.

Friends.

Beloved ones.

Death is no longer a metaphor.

The nightmare. The nightmare.

The nightmare.

29 (S)

Since we are already here.

Poetry of faith at the full.

Kindly keep these sandwiches, too.

To be shared at the golden hour

That poets dream of,

Even as it madly thunders.

30 (Y)

Our poem will end

When we overcome;

We will celebrate

For once,

An end

As we always do

With beginnings

31 (Y)

Laugh, belittle, ridicule,

Call me naive

Over-blown

Narcissistic,

Easily duped,  

Those names,

Whatever is up

Entitled sleeves,

To silence stereotype enslave.

32 (S)

The dread of your dying wick.

A single lung blighting all joy.

Memories of your dead mother.

Your pus-filled body.

A cry for green stones of home. Hot springs.

Jail is sad.

Prisoners die at this cursed hour.

Now on my kneeling mat, milling the moon.

33 (S)

At the local dumpsite, I flinch

improvise a mind-soul spin.

Kids playing atop the site,

happy-hip outdoor crib with a view.

Good times rolling like Kamala Harris,

dogs fighting over smelly nappies.

Kids running away, stained condoms

popping up.

They are doing it.

34 (Y)

it used to be simple

getting on a plane

breathing without a mask

touching a doorknob

and not being afraid

it used to be simple

laughing on an elevator

just going out

hugging someone

you love

35 (S)

Ziyagiya ziqethuke.

Mqombothi plastic cups.

Lives dangling on the lion’s jaws.

Ease the storm beloved ancestors.

We miss the magic of hugging the clay pot.

The odd belch.

The tickling cold stir on lips.

The Khongisa spirit.

Songs against thunder and disease.

Rain.

(Section 35 was written by Sandile Ngidi on the day of the death of legendary South African vocalist, and his friend, Sibongile Khumalo, evoking the spirit of one her great songs, a prayer to the gods of Africa. Let us mourn in prayer this collective loss as we face a world torn by the pandemic.)

36 (Y)

Shivers of monster icebergs

Fevers of raging forest fires

Fuzzy spikes running amok

Vessels organs flesh and muscle

Dropping phlegm immunity bombs

More virus more virus more virus

Tentacles piercing nails red-blue

Hoping to wipe out Humanity

Weighing who gets to live

Which rich nations get vaccines first

37 (S)

The vaccine arrives in the rain,

I wave on TV,

frown lines of relief.

Puppy-happy, playing fetch

The bride is here, for

migrants too.

Waves crash onto shore,

a swash of stars

arresting the frozen hours.

Maize seedlings ready, hands to earth.

Fresh starts.

38 (Y)

Yurikamome float like lotus

Heaven on earth

This river of fruit and birth,

Tender Flowers,

A moment in this pandemic Hell

That enslaves, rapes, steals,

Infections of greed and envy

39 (S)

Humming leaves giving rhythm to the reticent day.

Fruits.

Mapholoba off to his cattle post.

Our morning ritual in flight.

Salutes to sunrise.

Laughter shared like bread.

A mbhubhudlo bond.

Songs.

The heaven of village handshakes.

Palm leaves.

40 (Y)

Hot pink buds are shaking dew,

Airplanes roar over clouds of spring  

And the weeping of sirens,

Piercing the city smog;

We wonder if it’s COVID-19

Or some other emergency;  

We pray for anshin anzen,

Safe and secure,

As elusive as those broken promises.   

41 (S)

Sibiya’s laughs are boiled maize kernels we throw in the air,

Right into our mouths.

Sweet rain drops.

In the wasp-killing sun, we breathe dreams into the soil,

Muting the weeping sirens.

The soil’s ulnar verse spreads and breaks like seawaves.

We are silk songs.

42 (Y)

We wake up today to the Earth shuddering,

Rumbling in fear of human evil,

Magnitude 7.3 almost midnight.  

We wake up today to water levels sinking

In reactors that sank 10 years ago

Meltdowns in Fukushima, 

Half-cracked containers spewing,

No one gets close without dying;     

Remembering human greed,

Evacuating in fear of radioactive imperfection.

43 (S)

You ntanga yethu, David Sibisi.

Walking talking with stoic grace.

Broomcorn strong.

Smile bristles giving the day her delayed radiance.

Some milk cows perished in the recent hellish rains.

But you braving the forest,

giving the village her health.

Brooms.            

44 (S)

It’s a year since that freezing wind struck,

left its bloodied knife on the floor.

The winding path of pain, indefinite tracks on a hill.

The dead can’t smell the flowers, and play with their dogs anymore.

Yet memory drapes each day with protean seeds.     

45 (Y)

Smell the soy sauce cooking

See the squints stab desert skies

Hear the heartbeat taiko vibration

Feel the texture of kimono silk

Taste the ocean sashimi brine

So Simple: Has it been a year?

We are alive we mourn filled with love

Can you remember how that love made you afraid?

46 (S)

Empty lands,

where brutal spiderworlds

silence women.

In the name of tradition,

the kikuyu loses her green heart.

Tribesmen betray justice.

Blowing their noses at a woman,

as she cries for justice.

When her speech is chilli hot,

her eyes a stubborn flame.

47 (Y)

Vagina warm and snug,

Dark and tight Slant Eyes,

Shot at a Massage Spa;

Skin as smooth as China Silk,

Straight Black Hair a Tightrope,

Shot at a Massage Spa;

Serve your addiction

But Not racially motivated,

Shot at a Massage Spa;

He just had a bad day,

The women are dead.

48 (S)

Sunny days are darkening at load-shedding speed.

Seasons of foul stench.

Skunks squealing with careless glee.

Children too happy to play outside.

Far from the smell of the political millipede.

To wink at the transient sunrise.

Holding on to its warm scarlet scarf.

49 (Y)

Oblivious to the pandemic,

Sakura buds fatten,

Burst in benevolent explosions,

Millions of screams

Crying out to Stop Hate, 

Pink pompoms spilling Pink Periods

On a timeless Manuscript

Of pavement and dirt.   

50 (S)

Bright skies and the sea full of grace, heroic balsamic kisses.

Hugh Masekela’s Homeric bloom.

Bliss.

It’s the season of the kindest sunlight.

Petunias strutting their lot in lilac, red –

And Hughey’s enduring love petals.

Hip grazing in the April grass.

“The canvas is big. Gets beautiful with every brush stroke. What matters to me is the possibility of the festival. We are still afloat.” _ SANDILE NGIDI


“I must answer to my brother poet’s challenge and spirit, our words weaving together as family, across oceans, skies and continents.” _ YURI KAGEYAMA

Haiku March 27, 2021 by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku March 27, 2021 by Yuri Kageyama

Give Me That Power

To keep Dreaming My Dream if not just

To Live in My Dreams

ゆめおもう

ゆめをいきるは

夢の中

Miniature Figure by Munenori Tamagawa

It was Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “I have a dream,” those words that spoke of that powerful message and legacy of Black Lives Matter years ago. Why has our dream as Asians in America so often and so long been lost? Called foreign, invisible, docile, cheap, expressionless, model minorities, we have been silenced, sometimes turned willingly silent, out of fear and the desire to survive, in that American conversation between white and Black. Our story has yet to be fully told, explored or studied, even dreamed.

Haiku March 24, 2021 by Yuri Kageyama

Haiku March 24, 2021 by Yuri Kageyama

つえをつき

見上げる空に

初桜

Cane in his hand,

He looks up for a long time

First cherry blossoms

The world suddenly looks like a splendid and hopeful place when sakura starts to bloom, right about this time in Tokyo. It happens without fail every year. But it’s so dazzling it feels unexpected. This morning, an old man was gazing up at a tree, probably the first cherry blossom tree he saw on his walk. His eyes, behind the glasses, I knew had seen so much, and was seeing all of that, again, in the flowers.

MAGIC a poem by YURI KAGEYAMA

Why do We Write?

More Mysterious,

Why do We Read What we Write?

Why are there Chants, Prayers, Songs?

Poems?

Words are There To Be Spoken.

Words are There To Be Heard.

Magic of The Word.

Magic

Of

The

Word.

Hitsuzen a poem by Yuri Kageyama

偶然

どころか

全ては

必然

うまれる

まえから

宇宙の

はてまで

つながる

目の前の

永遠

見逃さない

耳目心

偶然では

絶対

ない

My poem FUKUSHIMA with Music by Darrell Craig Harris

Talented, intelligent and kind musician Darrell Craig Harris and I collaborate online on my poem “Fukushima.”

The poem is part of my theater piece and film NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet.

FUKUSHIMA a poem by Yuri Kageyama

It’s a Meltdown nation

Since Three-Eleven

Covered in the fear

Of unseen radiation

But don’t you expect

Any revolution

All you will find

Is fear and contamination.

Here in Fukushima

It rhymes with Hiroshima

Instead of a holler

Hear just a whimper

They say it is safe

The kids like Chernobyl

Are coming down sick

With Thyroid cancer.

Fukushima

Fukushima

Fukushima

Y’all, it’s no hallucination

The refugees’ life

No compensation

No resolution

Just nuclear explosions

Get your dosimeter

Cesium in the water

Lost Imagination

Here in Fukushima

It rhymes with Hiroshima

The radiated Brothers

Faces are hidden

Goggles and masks

Like an astronaut

From head to toe

The Invisible workers

Fukushima

Fukushima

Fukushima

Premature aging

Nerve cells dying

Sterility, deformity

Unborn baby

Blood count dissipation

Leukemia debilitation

DNA radiation

Godzilla’s affliction

Tsunami Demolition

God’s DeCreation

Genetic Devastation

Our next Generation.

Here in Fukushima

It rhymes with Hiroshima

No-go zones forever

The World must remember.

Fukushima

Fukushima

Fukushima

Nothing happens なにもおこらない _ a poem/song by Yuri Kageyama

I started working on this song in February 2019. It’s about how people like to talk about “what’s happening” or what’s going to happen. Most of the time, nothing happens. Nothing needs to happen. Now with the pandemic unfolding, the song is more pertinent than ever. I reworked the song to reflect that. And 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.

Still a work in progress but the audio:

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

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 curb goes 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

Please, please let nothing happen

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

すべてが

あまりにも

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 Absolutely

NOTHING HAPPENS

^___<

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


Life suddenly _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama May 9, 2020

Music by Lorian Belanger inspired May 15, 2020 by “Life Suddenly,” a poem by Yuri Kageyama written May 9, 2020.

life suddenly seems so bare,

absent of distractions and noise,

honed down to essentials:

food, water,

the daily dosage of exercise,

sleep, working from home,

buying online,

safety from disease.

you realize life

is still,

alone,

full of meaning that is

so fragile

and easily lost.

My film NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA selected by the Silent River Film Festival

My film “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet” has now been selected to be part of the Silent River Film Festival. It has moved online because of the pandemic and runs Aug. 7 ~16, 2020.

I am proud of what we have achieved with our film. Thanks to the film organizers for supporting independent filmmaking. And thanks to my many collaborators for the well-deserved honors we are getting.

The festival was founded by Indian American poet, writer and filmmaker Kalpna Singh-Chitris.

We are in good company.