My poem in a literary magazine

Just got this publication “phati’tude” Literary Magazine. It has my poem:

For women only

perfume,
rubbing shoulders,
we rattle silently over the tracks
blouses, tucked bags, even powdered chins,
up too close to really see;
we sense only relief
we smell no greasy beards or sweaty suits or
beer breath of the morning after _
this morning commuter train
“josei senyo sha”
reserved
for women only,
introduced to protect the gentle sex
from those groping dark hands
preying prying fingers, stroking thigh,
poking panties,
pretending to be penises
right in public transport,
“josei senyo sha”
this is the kindness of Japanese society:
let chikan go unchecked,
forgiven for their mischief,
and give us, women, this special spot
farthest from the action
farthest from the ticket gates
the first car up front,
and the most dangerous
if we crash

The Poetics of Being

The Poetics of Being
by Yuri Kageyama

When my first poem to be ever published, “The Big White Bitch,” appeared in Ishmael Reed and Al Young’s iconic “Y’Bird” 30 years ago, Geraldine Kudaka sighed, sympathy clear in her eyes, and remarked I was making a tough debut in the literary world as a “Third World feminist poet.”
I didn’t fully understand or maybe even care what that meant. And I probably still don’t.
I have never been much of a marketer.
If we believe in our work, as we certainly do, we must get the word out and get people to read what we have to say.
But for me, writing is a solitary act, a conversation with something absolute and eternal that is everywhere in everyday life, yet beyond everyday life.
I don’t write to please an audience, connect to a sociological category or further a political movement.
And so my poetry has basically not changed.
If the poetry I do, which may be what some call Third World feminist, is growing more readily accepted in the world today, perhaps because of advances we have made in diversity and sexual equality, that is as irrelevant to what I do as it was 30 years ago when I was writing in a room of my own, shouting in the wilderness, a shaman without a single listener.
That is because writing is solitary act, unaffected by how audiences may have changed.
That is not to say that the search for sexual and racial equality is irrelevant.
It is as relevant and pressing as ever.
There is sociological evidence that show how women of color today remain in some ways as underrepresented, stereotyped and powerless as they were in the 1970s.
The themes in my writing, which address how racism and sexism shape our relationships and our psyches, are not going to change like seasonal fashion plates, technological platform innovations or topical headlines.
The themes are too eternal, too universal, too real _ the pain the child feels when he or she is called “Jap,” the shock of realizing as a teen mainstream beauty standards mean the ugliest white person is going to “win” over the coolest-looking non-white person, the horror of knowing that around the world people are seeing their children starve, undergoing genital mutilation and risking their lives just to win the right to vote.
As poets and storytellers, we can only start _ right here _ with what we know, what we have seen, what is in our hearts, who we are, and no one can help us.
Writing is a solitary act.
We must be honest in a world full of lies, we must be fearless as we tremble in fear, and we must speak with our own voice, alone, and never try to please.
Last year, I got a new book out, “The New and Selected Yuri _ Writing From Peeling Till Now,” which compiles my poetry, stories and essays from the 1970s to today.
It, too, is published by Ishmael Reed, who put out my first book of poems, “Peeling” in 1988 _ as well as my first poem ever to be published, “Big White Bitch.”
The latest book includes a companion piece to that poem, “Little YELLOW Slut,” which runs down the stereotypes of the Asian female.
The imagery, this time, has taken a global turn, born in Hollywood and American pop but thriving, never lost in translation, in Tokyo, and vice versa.
I am proud of this poem and this book.
I am proud that someone like Ishmael Reed has believed in me and my work for more than 30 years.
I know nothing will ever stop me from writing more poems like these.
And I still have so many stories to tell.
I don’t feel I am returning to explore old themes.
I don’t feel I am trying to break new ground.
I am just writing.
The search for identity, love and erotica is as timeless as is my wish for racism and sexism to disappear from the face of this planet, no longer so urgent, so violent, so degrading.
Writing is a solitary act.
Gertrude Stein in “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” talks about giving a lecture in Oxford, and how she answered questions about knowing “she was right in doing the kind of writing she did.”
“She answered that it was not a question of what any one thought, but after all she had been doing as she did for about 20 years,” she wrote.
“This did not mean of course that they were coming to think that her way was a possible way, it proved nothing, but on the other hand it did possibly indicate something.”

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.

A mention in the Cornell Alumni Magazine

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

survival of the fittest and the apex predator

in the animal kingdom, the strongest members of the species not only survive, they also get to mate or spawn and so they have the best chance to leave their genetic makeup and characteristics to future generations.
that is why females choose to have sex with powerful, rich, big, strong men.
in those Discovery Channel videos, male lions fight each other to decide on a winner that gets to mate.
in tuna, the males swim viciously over the eggs at the speed of a sportscar to spawn and so the strongest and fastest tuna get to leave their genes to legacy.
loser tuna are also swimming in the group and leaving their trails of sperm over the eggs but all too late because the eggs have already been fertilized by what the bigger and stronger male tuna spurted out.
and so it is forever the instinct for the female’s own survival and her offspring/eggs and the survival of the species to seek out the strongest.
but the human being may be one species capable of reversing that.
what could be more inhumane than being the most powerful predator?
isn’t it more desirable and attractive to be giving and humble, to sacrifice and accept honorable defeat instead of aggressively winning at someone else’s cost?
why must we be tuna? or a lion?
why shouldn’t being a loser be sexy?
to the enlightened liberated human female?

Transcending age, sex and race

When we get old, very very old, so old we are covered with wrinkles and our skin is pale and our breasts shrivel and droop and an old man looks and smells no different from an old woman, do we finally and once and for all transcend the barriers of sex and race?
By succumbing to the all-unifying power of age and soon-to-come death, do we victoriously overcome the hurt of sex and the murder of race and the divisions we must inherit as legacy of mankind like the taint of original sin?
When we get up in morning and look at what looks back at us in the mirror, will we no longer fear society’s taunts for how we look and for the petty but definitive prisons of groupings for which we stand and must represent?
Will we at last have the choice of being nothing and so be someone who will not be defined by sex and race, and it will no longer matter whether you are man or woman, black, white or yellow?

Miwa Yanagi is one of my favorite artists because she addresses those very inner thoughts that have always tormented me. She has young women enact how they see themselves as old ladies and takes their portraits. Elevator girls and Amazonian women are other images she evokes for her powerful message. Yanagi never loses her delicate sensitivity and raw energy. She faces those fears head-on while the rest of us cower in shame and self-destruction.

Agism

Women like me probably feel they’ve all gone through their lives suffering some kind of discrimination for being female and for being non-white.
And now, I am starting to realize _ and maybe I am lucky for not having to see this earlier _ that I am going to encounter another reason for discrimination: Age!
I was naive: I thought that with age, women will be seen less sexually desirable as females, and that would help even out the score and lead to more equality.
No such thing.
Japan is a culture that worships youth, which is strange (or maybe not so strange) given that this is one of the most rapidly aging societies on earth.
In the US, youngsters get pushed around because they have no power, money or status.
And that’s why we grew up saying: Don’t trust anyone over 30.
Agism, it turns out, is just as ridiculous as discrimination on the basis of sex and race.
Age really has nothing to do with anything. But there seems to be a fear about the inability to keep up with the latest.
Appearance is another obvious factor.
Yuri Kageyama gains another battlefront!
Kimiko Date is making a comeback in tennis at 38.
Her husband, a racing driver, told her she may have always won up to now, but what she must learn now is that she must lose, sometimes to those who are younger than she is.
This struck me as very wise words.
That may sound like a contradiction, after all I said about agism, but it’s not, really: We must learn to accept defeat, including defeat to those who are younger than us, because, after all, we’re getting older, and statistically there are going to be more people who are younger than you, if you live longer.
(We never accept discrimination _ which is totally, totally different from defeat judged by performance, which is irrelevant to age per se.)
No one wins all the time _ age and experience are no guarantee for your win.
You win some and lose some.
And it’s just as important to accept rightful defeat as it is to keep going at it to win.

More poetry and percussion on the Noh Stage

Little YELLOW Slut
Poetry by Yuri Kageyama
Kpanlogo percussion by Winchester Nii Tete

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.

Little YELLOW Slut

Reworked to add a new line: “Charlie Chan’s Angel”

Little YELLOW Slut
By Yuri Kageyama

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.

Dear Sir

Dear Sir,
do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes the one with the violin
holes in her jeans
she doesn’t know she doesn’t need you
just knows she wants
maybe the warmth of that moving wormlike fetus stirring growing within her
maybe the hotness of those orgasmic waves coming and going and coming within her
maybe that wet loneliness of wanting you and wanting you when you aren’t even gone
she sees only you
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes the one selling matches
begging at the train station
she needs to find herself
not end up being
maybe just one your many conquests, that pretty thing to have at your side
maybe that soul-mate you’re keeping while you’re feeling too guilty to dump her
maybe that convenience for cooking, counseling, coming that you don’t even need
she will die for you
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?
yes that search for love
of that woman for that man
it never ends, repeating
again and again
maybe that blood trickling painless between our thighs on the abortion table
maybe that joy of a bouquet you bring smelling of grease from the construction site
maybe that other woman you hide like a fetish priest wishing my daughter’s death
she isn’t afraid
but do you love my daughter?
really love my daughter?