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” now honored at film festivals around the world:

Official Selection Los Angeles Asian Film Festival 2021.

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

Official Selection Universe Multicultural Film Festival Aug. 27-29, 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.

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/

ode to the stroller – a poem by Yuri Kageyama

Photos of San Francisco by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

A book party

A book party

MY POEM “ode to the Stroller” got published in TOKYO POETRY JOURNAL Vol. 5, dedicated to the Beat Poets January 2018.
THE BOOK PARTY AT OL TOKYO
37-10 Udagawa-cho
Shibuya, Tokyo
7 p.m. SAT Jan. 27, 2018.

Photo by John Matthews

Photos of the reading by John Matthews

I read this poem with my YURICANE spoken-word band: Winchester Nii Tete (percussion), Kouzan Kikuchi (shakuhachi) and Hirokazu Natsuaki (cello), crossing borders so sounds, genres, cultures, people come together in a performance with no score but all soul.

th-5369141987-1556x1039

Motherhood poems are usually square or oppressive and so many women don’t like to write about motherhood. I chose pushing the stroller as a metaphor to depict motherhood in all its proper liberated glory. This happens to be in San Francisco because that is where I had my son and I pushed him around on strollers a lot. But it can be about any mom anywhere. The point of this poem is that it is location-specific and so it takes you on a journey, not only where the stroller went but also in our minds and our path of life like a movie.
We dedicate our performance to all mothers, including Mother Earth herself, and, of course, all the children.

20180127_ToPoJoWebRes__DSC5217

 

ode to the stroller
a poem by Yuri Kageyama

we zip weightless like silent angels
up and down San Francisco hills
running on the mother of all energy
greener than solar
rolling rolling rolling
with laughter
cream acid rock ‘n’ rolling
lightning dazzling wheels
gara-gara-gara-gara
teethers jangling dangling dancing
going mad on strangle-free rubbery ribbons
up and down the Avenues
J-town, Clement Street
Golden Gate Park
Museum of Modern Art
we are singing:
“Ouma no oyako wa nakayoshi koyoshi
itsudemo issho ni pokkuri pokkuri aruku”
perfume wind in our hair
springing over potholes
not even stopping just for breast feeds
connected as one through this magical machine
me pushing
you riding
the Lamborghini of strollers
the Gundam of strollers
the little train that could of strollers
up up up into the joyous clouds
zooming wheeeeee
down slurping slopes
around swervacious curves
we are one
yes, we are one
tied in the past with our
umbilical cord
and
even in death
in our dreams

th-5369144074-1556x1039

This version of my reading was recorded at Jackson’s Garage in Tokyo, with Hirokazu Suyama Jackson on drums, Yuuichiro Ishii on guitar and Hiroshi Tokieda on bass.
The poem is about young motherhood some time back, but I wrote this poem recently.
The feelings remain the same, eternal:

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: MEDITATION ON AN UNDER-REPORTED CATASTROPHE BY A POET _ at Z Space, San Francisco July 8 – 9, 2017

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

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


NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA
Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet

Written by Yuri Kageyama | Directed by Carla Blank
Z Space 450 Florida St. San Francisco CA 94110
SAT July 8, 2017 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
SUN July 9, 2017 2 p.m.
$10 admission (free with student ID)
Discussion with audience and cast after each show.
For tickets and other information, please click on this special Z space site.

“Yuri Kageyama, with her epic poem, has earned a place among the leading world poets. This work proves that the poet as a journalist can expose conditions that are ignored by the media.” _ Ishmael Reed

“A commentary on what it means to be human in the 21st Century.” _ Basir Mchawi

“A beacon of light in a darkening world.” _ Paul Armstrong

“Tough yet faithful production and its dedication to truth-telling.” _ David Henderson

“The nuclear age of post-World War II Japan has never ended.” _ Hisami Kuroiwa

The performers in NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: From left to right: Shigeko Sara Suga, Monisha Shiva, Takemi Kitamura (photo by Tennessee Reed)

The performers in NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: From left to right: Shigeko Sara Suga, Monisha Shiva, Takemi Kitamura (photo by Tennessee Reed)

Fukushima is the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. It will take decades and billions of dollars to keep the multiple meltdowns under control. Spewed radiation has reached as far as the American West Coast. Some 100,000 people were displaced from the no-go zone. But, six years after 3.11, the story hardly makes headlines.

Journalist Yuri Kageyama turns to poetry, dance, theater, music and film, to remind us that the human stories must not be forgotten. Carla Blank, who has directed plays in Xiangtan and Ramallah, as well as collaborated with Suzushi Hanayagi and Robert Wilson, brings together a multicultural cast of artists to create provocative theater. Performing as collaborators are actors/dancers Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva, Shigeko Sara Suga and musicians Stomu Takeishi, Isaku Kageyama, Kouzan Kikuchi and Joe Small. Lighting design by Blu. Documentary video of Fukushima by Yoshiaki Tago.

NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA is a literary prayer for Japan. It explores the friendship between women, juxtaposing the intimately personal with the catastrophic. The piece, which had a debut run at La MaMa in New York in 2015, continues to develop and premieres on the West Coast at Z Space in San Francisco.

For more information, interviews and other queries:
Please click on Contact

BIOS OF THE ARTISTS:
THE PLAYWRIGHT

Yuri Kageyama. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

Yuri Kageyama. Photo by Junji Kurokawa.

YURI KAGEYAMA is an award-winning journalist, poet, songwriter, filmmaker and author of “The New and Selected Yuri” and “The Very Special Day.” Her spoken-word band the Yuricane has featured Melvin Gibbs, Eric Kamau Gravatt, Morgan Fisher, Pheeroan akLaff and Winchester Nii Tete. She is published in ”Breaking Silence,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Pow Wow,” Cultural Weekly, Y’Bird, Konch and Public Poetry Series. http://yurikageyama.com/

THE DIRECTOR

Carla Blank

Carla Blank

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

TAKEMI KITAMURA, choreographer, dancer, puppeteer, Japanese sword fighter and actor, appeared in “The Oldest Boy” at Lincoln Center, “The Indian Queen” directed by Peter Sellars; “Shank’s Mare” by Tom Lee and Koryu Nishikawa V; “Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed” by Dan Hurlin and “Memory Rings” by Phantom Limb Co. She has worked with Nami Yamamoto, Sondra Loring and Sally Silvers. http://takemikitamura.com/

Takemi Kitamura

TAKEMI KITAMURA (CENTER). PHOTO BY TENNESSEE REED.


Monisha Shiva

MONISHA SHIVA. PHOTO BY TENNESSEE REED.

MONISHA SHIVA is an actor, dancer, choreographer and painter, appearing in “The Domestic Crusaders” and “The Rats,” for theater, and independent films such as “Small Delights,” “Carroll Park,” “Echoes” and “Ukkiya Jeevan.” A native New Yorker, she has studied classical Indian dance and Bollywood, jazz and samba dancing, and acting at William Esper Studios and Studio 5. http://www.monishashiva.com/Monisha/home.html

Shigeko Suga

SHIGEKO SUGA (LEFT). PHOTO BY TENNESSEE REED.


SHIGEKO SARA SUGA, actress, director, artistic associate at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, and Flamenco and Butoh dancer, has performed in 150 productions, including Pan Asian Rep.’s “Shogun Macbeth” and “No No Boy.” She dedicates her performance to her nephew Ryoei Suga, who volunteered in Kesennuma after the 2011 tsunami and now devotes his life there as a fisherman and monk. www.shigekosuga.com

THE MUSICIANS

Stomu Takeishi

STOMU TAKEISHI is a master of the fretless electric bass and has played and recorded in a variety of jazz settings with artists such as Henry Threadgill, Brandon Ross, Myra Melford, Don Cherry, Randy Brecker, Satoko Fujii, Dave Liebman, Cuong Vu, Paul Motian and Pat Metheny. He tours worldwide and performs at various international jazz festivals.

Isaku Kageyama. Photo by Koji Sasahara. ISAKU KAGEYAMA. PHOTO BY KOJI SASAHARA.

ISAKU KAGEYAMA is a taiko drummer and percussionist, working with Asano Taiko UnitOne in Los Angeles, film-scoring extravaganza “The Masterpiece Experience” and Tokyo ensemble Amanojaku. A magna cum laude Berklee College of Music graduate, he teaches at Wellesley, University of Connecticut and Brown. http://isakukageyama.com/

Kouzan Kikuchi

KOUZAN KIKUCHI. PHOTO BY JUNJI KUROKAWA.

KOUZAN KIKUCHI, shakuhachi player from Fukushima, studied minyo shamisen with his mother. A graduate of the Tokyo University of the Arts, he studied with National Treasure Houzan Yamamoto. He has worked with Ebizo Ichikawa, Shinobu Terajima and Motoko Ishii. In 2011, he became Tozanryu Shakuhachi Foundation “shihan” with highest honors.

JOE SMALL is a taiko artist, who is a member of Eitetsu Hayashi’s Fu-un no Kai and creator of the original concert, “Spall Fragments.” A Swarthmore graduate, he apprenticed for two years with Kodo, researched Japanese music as a Fulbright Fellow and holds an MFA in Dance from UCLA. He teaches at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute. www.joesmalltaiko.com

Joe Small

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

YOSHIAKI TAGO

YOSHIAKI TAGO directed “A.F.O.,” “Believer,” “Worst Contact,” “Meido in Akihabara.” His short “The Song of a Tube Manufacturer” won the runner-up prize at the Yasujiro Ozu Memorial Film Festival in 2013. He serves as film adviser for Takashi Murakami. He has worked with Nobuhiko Obayashi, Takashi Miike and Macoto Tezuka. He is documenting “News from Fukushima” as a film.

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Yuri Kageyama reports with a photographer in the Fukushima no-go zone. Photo by Kazuhiro Onuki.


What people are saying about NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: MEDITATION ON AN UNDER-REPORTED CATASTROPHE BY A POET.

Yuri Kageyama, with her epic poem, has earned a place among the leading world poets. This work proves that the poet as a journalist can expose conditions that are ignored by the media. _ Ishmael 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.

A truly emotional experience. _ Liliana Perez child psychologist and Ph.D.

A vital story of our times. Spoken word and music from a talented multicultural ensemble. A beacon of light in a darkening world. _ Paul 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 HEDNRIX: VOODOO CHILD.

Tragically, Fukushima is still constantly being shaken by earthquakes. NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA echoes the mourning of Bon Odori dance to warn us again and again that the nuclear age of post-World War II Japan has never ended. _ Hisami Kuroiwa movie producer and executive for “The Shell Collector,” “”Lafcadio Hearn: His Journey to Ithaca,” “Sunday,” “Bent” and the Silver Bear-winning “Smoke.”

Fukushima: Excellent musical accompaniment to poignant poetry, with minimal yet imaginative staging and choreography. Musicians were absolutely superb! _ Nana pianist and New Yorker.

What a delight was the new theater piece featuring Shigeko Suga, which did a short run at La MaMa. Ms. Suga and her fellow performers glided beautifully with wit, authority and grace through the stylized performances. See this show and be transported magically. _ George Ferencz co-founder of the Impossible Ragtime Theater, resident director at La MaMa (1982-2008), who has also directed at the Actors’ Theater of Louisville, Berkeley Rep and Cleveland Playhouse.

News that enraptures and engages through Sound. A Poet sings of the unreported calamity at Fukushima in NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA to Melvin Gibbs’ bass. _ Katsumi a Japanese living in New York.

It spoke of what’s most critically needed in this age. Despite advances in civilization and culture, the power of emotions has weakened, and people don’t know how to talk to each other. Everyone who took part in this performance, and those who came to see it, although of different races and thinking, all felt clearly the existence of what we know is so important, what we feel is so needed: Love. Love is not an abstract concept. It is about how we treasure our family, how we treat our lovers, our friends. I have lived to see many people who hurt others out of selfishness, betrayed others without qualms, and then went on to hide what they had done. But in the end, what is desired is not achieved, leaving only hunger, and, because of that, the cycle gets repeated again. What I saw here is not just cultural collaboration but what is at the center of that _ a warm feeling, and the expression of the message that the world cannot go on this way. I pray more people will be able to feel love through seeing this performance. I pray as someone who believes in love. _ Toshinori “Toshichael Jackson” Tani dancer, member of TL Brothers and instructor.

An excerpt from NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: “Hiroshima.” Filmed and edited by Yuri Kageyama.

Monisha Shiva. Photo by Tennessee Reed.

Monisha Shiva. Photo by Tennessee Reed.

OUR READING AT THE AAJA CONVENTION HYATT REGENCY SAN FRANCISCO FRI AUG 14, 2015.

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OUR POETRY READING AT THE AAJA CONVENTION HYATT REGENCY SAN FRANCISCO FRI AUG. 14, 2015.

Poetry written and read by Yuri Kageyama
Music by the Yuricane band
Melvin Gibbs bass
Hide Asada guitar
Hirokazu Suyama drums and tabla

We presented three duets _ all happened to be about death, “Kawabata Yasunari’s Room,” “A Poem for Kenji Goto” and “The Kamikaze” _ and an excerpt from my Fukushima series, which will be part of the performance piece debuting at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York “NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet,” Sept. 11 – 13, 2015 (please see next post for details).

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From Left to Right: Melvin Gibbs, Yuri Kageyama, Hirokazu Suyama, Hide Asada.
Photos by Annette Borromeo Dorfman.

FOR ONCE BEING A POET AND A JOURNALIST _ AT ONCE _ SAN FRANCISCO FRI Aug. 14, 2015

SFJAZZ with drums
Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman

I’m invited to speak at the Asian American Journalists Association annual convention in San Francisco.
The theme of my presentation is what a reporter does outside journalism _ in my case, the spoken word.
For once, I will be a poet and a journalist at once.
I have been a reporter at The Associated Press for nearly 25 years.
That’s a big chunk of my life.
I was a published poet long before I joined AP; I was writing poetry from my childhood.
I have kept those two sides of myself separate, not only because AP reporters must be objective and neutral, but more because I wanted to protect that delicate part of me that allows me to be a poet.
For a long time, I saw my true self as a poet and my role as a reporter as a job.
I wanted to write, and it is one way to get paid for writing.
But I believe in journalism.
I have learned over the years that there are key things journalism can accomplish that no literature can.
And that I am one and the same person.

Associated Press Correspondent Yuri Kageyama was a poet before she even thought about becoming a journalist. For years, she assumed the two areas of her writing were separate — one intensely personal, the other professional. Sometimes she struggled to simply find time to write poetry. But over the years, she has remained a poet, perhaps first and foremost a poet. Yuri speaks about reporting and reconciliation: how the Fukushima nuclear disaster really helped tie her dual passions together. And with her Yuricane spoken-word band, she will show that in action.

My YURICANE band features Melvin Gibbs (bass), Hide Asada (guitar) and Hirokazu Suyama Jackson (drums amd tab;a).

The Hyatt Regency hotel Pacific N Room (5 Embarcadero Center in San Francisco)

FRI Aug. 14, 2015. 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

MORE: Yuri Kageyama is a poet, journalist and filmmaker. She leads her spoken-word band The Yuricane. Her performance piece will open at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York in September. A reporter at The Associated Press. A magna cum laude graduate of Cornell. M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. Here are some of her works at The AP.

FREE ADMISSION.
Please contact me through here for more information or to be on my guest list.

My Poem “ode to the stroller” now part of the Public Poetry Series

My Poem “ode to the stroller” now part of the Public Poetry Series.
Poetry by Yuri Kageyama.
Read by Hirokazu “Jackson” Suyama.
Film by Adam Lewis.

we zip weightless like silent angels
up and down San Francisco hills
running on the mother of all energy
greener than solar
rolling rolling rolling
with laughter
cream acid rock ‘n’ rolling
lightning dazzling wheels
gara-gara-gara-gara
teethers jangling dangling dancing
going mad on strangle-free rubbery ribbons
up and down the Avenues
J-town, Clement Street
Golden Gate Park
Museum of Modern Art
we are singing:
“Ouma no oyako wa nakayoshi koyoshi
itsudemo issho ni pokkuri pokkuri aruku”
perfume wind in our hair
springing over potholes
not even stopping just for breast feeds
connected as one through this magical machine
me pushing
you riding
the Lamborghini of strollers
the Gundam of strollers
the little train that could of strollers
up up up into the joyous clouds
zooming wheeeeee
down slurping slopes
around swervacious curves
we are one
yes, we are one
tied in the past with our
umbilical cord
and
even in death
in our dreams

My Poetry with Music at SFJAZZ CENTER in a tribute to ISHMAEL REED June 2014.

SFstage
Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman.

Poetry written and read by Yuri Kageyama with the Yuricane band, featuring Hirokazu Suyama on drums and tablas, Hiroshi Tokieda on bass, Hide Asada on guitar and Trupti Pandkar on vocals.
“A Tribute for Ishmael Reed”
SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco SAT June 28, 2014.
All poetry written and read by Yuri Kageyama http://yurikageyama.com
5:40 “Loving Younger Men”
11:05 “Little YELLOW Slut”
17:25 “No Gift of the Magi”
23:55 “Ode to the Stroller”
30:00 “Fukushima” in homage to Questlove Jenkins and The Roots.
34:00 “Hiroshima”
40:10 Indian Improv Interlude
44:02 “I Will Bleed” Lyrics by Yuri Kageyama and Trupti Pandkar, Melody by Trupti Pandkar and Hiroshi Tokieda.

withbass
Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman.

SFJAZZ with drums
Photo by Annette Borromeo Dorfman.

with trupti
Photo by Eba Chan.

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Photo by Eba Chan.

Poetry at the SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco with Poet Laureate Ishmael Reed SAT June 28, 2014.

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We are putting on a poetry reading with music at the SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco to pay tribute to the center’s Poet Laureate Ishmael Reed SAT June 28, 2014.

Ishmael is my mentor and my muse.
He is also my first publisher.
This is my way of saying: Thank you.
Thank you, Ishmael.
Thank you, Poetry.
Thank you, San Francisco.
FREE ADMISSION
The SFJAZZ CENTER at 201 Franklin Street.

Yuri Kageyama’s “Fukushima” A poem with music _ an early version as it was born in a Tokyo garage. On SoundCloud.

ISHMAEL REED, the legendary poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, educator and thinker, TAKES CENTER STAGE AT THE SFJAZZ CENTER in San Francisco, where he is the poet laureate, to read his works in an evening of POETRY AND MUSIC, celebrating his multicultural and multi-format legacy.
MINER AUDITORIUM at the SFJAZZ CENTER (201 Franklin Street at Fell San Francisco, CA, USA)
FREE ADMISSION Saturday, June 28, 2014 7 pm – 9 pm (Doors open 6:30 pm)
Ishmael Reed, one of the most respected American writers today, has fascinated and provoked many. A winner of the MacArthur “genius” award, he has published more than 20 books, including “Mumbo Jumbo” and “Japanese By Spring.” He has recorded the spoken word with renowned musicians. Coming soon is a nonfiction work on Muhammad Ali, “Bigger Than Boxing.”
To his credit, he has also published the works of lesser known writers, including some of his students at the University of California, Berkeley, highlighting voices from minority groups that rarely get mainstream media exposure.
“Ishmael Reed was the first person to publish my poem, and that meant so much to a young poet who felt so alone but had so much to say,” says Tokyo-based poet and writer Yuri Kageyama, who is organizing the tribute for her mentor at the SFJAZZ CENTER.
Kageyama will be reading with her band from Japan, the Yuricane, inspired by Reed’s introduction to her latest book, “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling Till Now,” from Ishmael Reed Publishing Co. The band features drummer Hirokazu Suyama, bassist Hiroshi Tokieda , guitarist Hide Asada and Trupti Pandkar on vocals, who all hail from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. They stand for a new breed of Asian artists, who are not afraid to challenge cultural boundaries.
Tennessee Reed, author of “Spell Alburquerque: Memoir of a ‘Difficult’ Student,” and “Adventures Among the X Challenged,” is the special guest.

Nothing quite like the literary San Francisco crowd


Reading by Yuri Kageyama of “Little YELLOW Slut” with the Broun Fellinis at Z Space in San Francisco, where Ishmael Reed received the Barbary Coast Award Oct. 12, 2011. Video by Annette Borromeo Dorfman.

Little YELLOW Slut
Poetry by Yuri Kageyama
first published in KONCH MAGAZINE, 2009.

You know her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, proudly gleefully
YELLOW-ly hanging on Big Master’s arm,
War bride, geisha,
GI’s home away from home,
Whore for last samurai,
Hula dancer with seaweed hair,
Yoko Ohno,
Akihabara cafe maid,
Hi-Hi Puffy Ami/Yumi,
Kawaiiii like keitai,
Back-up dancer for Gwen Stefani,
Your real-life Second Life avatar
Eager to deliver your freakiest fetish fantasies,
Disco queen, skirt up the crotch,
Fish-net stockings, bow-legged, anorexic, raisin nipples, tip-toeing Roppongi on
Stiletto heels.

Yessu, i spikku ingrishhu, i raikku gaijeeen, they kiss you,
hold your hand, open doors for me,
open legs for you, giggling pidgin, covering mouth,
so happy to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

Everybody’s seen her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, waiting at
Home, cooking rice, the Japanese
Condoleezza Rice,
Smelling of sushi,
Breath and vagina,
Fish and vinegar,
Fermented rice,
Honored to be
Cleaning lady,
Flight attendant for Singapore Airlines,
Charlie Chan’s Angel,
Nurse maid, gardener, Japan-expert’s wife,
Mochi manga face,
Yodeling minyo, growling enka,
Sex toy, slant-eyes closed, licking, tasting, swallowing STD semen,
Every drop.

Yessu, i wanna baby who looohkuh gaijeen, double-fold eye, translucent skin, international school PTA,
maybe grow up to be fashion model, even joshi-ana,
not-not-not happy to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

I recognize her:
That Little YELLOW Slut, rejecting
Japanese, rejected by Japanese,
Ashamed,
Empty inside,
They all look alike,
Faceless, hoping to forget, escape
To America,
Slant-eyed clitoris,
Adopted orphan,
Dream come true for pedophiles,
Serving sake, pouring tea, spilling honey,
Naturalized citizen,
Buying Gucci,
Docile doll,
Rag-doll, Miss Universe, manic harakiri depressive, rape victim, she is
You, she is me.

Hai, hai, eigo wakarimasen, worship Big Master for mind, matter, muscle, money, body size correlates to penis size,
waiting to be sexually harassed, so sorry, so many,
so sad to be
Little YELLOW Slut.

2011 Barbary Coast Award literary event in San Francisco



(photos by Annette Dorfman)

I was in San Francisco Oct. 12, 2011 for the 2011 Barbary Coast Award given to my mentor and publisher and great poet, novelist and teacher Ishmael Reed. Reed is the author of at least 27 books, including Mumbo Jumbo, The Last Days of Louisiana Red and Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down. He is also a publisher (as I well know), television producer, songwriter, pianist and radio and television commentator. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley, for 30 years.
I just finished his latest novel “Juice!” which highlights his talent as a visual artist/cartoonist as well. The book is not only a deliciously hilarious read, offering insightful satire on U.S. race relations and celebrity scandals, it is also a profound testament, even tribute, to what could now be a passing glory era of the mainstream media _ in all its grandeur, ludicrousness, power and human potential.

More from the ceremony below: Photos and video clips of performances, including my reading with music.