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/

ISAKU KAGEYAMA AS A YOUNG DRUMMER

ISAKU KAGEYAMA as a young taiko drummer at Bon Odori in Tokyo and an Amanojaku children’s division performance doing among other pieces “Nidanuchi.”
Thanks to all his Bon Taiko students for expressing interest. Now that they’ve gotten us started, we are thinking of editing video of his omatsuri playing.

A POEM FOR JOURNALISM by Yuri Kageyama

Joe Oyama in an Online California Archives photo, as he stands in the New York headquarters of the Common Council for American Unity. Joe was assistant editor of the Japanese American daily in Los Angeles before he was interned, in Santa Anita Assembly Center and Jerome Relocation Center, where both he and his wife Sami worked as journalists. After moving to New York in 1944, he was editor of the News Letter of the Japanese American Committee for Democracy. He and his wife were also both actors. They moved to Berkeley in their later years. I got to know him and Sami and their two children, who are also great artists. Joe was always supportive of my poetry:

Joe Oyama in an Online California Archives photo, as he stands in the New York headquarters of the Common Council for American Unity. Joe was assistant editor of the Japanese American daily in Los Angeles before he was interned, in Santa Anita Assembly Center and Jerome Relocation Center, where both he and his wife Sami worked as journalists. After moving to New York in 1944, he was editor of the News Letter of the Japanese American Committee for Democracy. He and his wife were also both actors. They moved to Berkeley in their later years. I got to know him and Sami and their two children, who are also great artists. Joe was always supportive of my poetry: “Like champagne,” he said once. This poem is for Joe and all the other great journalists. May the legacy live on.

A Poem for Journalism
By Yuri Kageyama

A Tree, a Story, a Drum
Circles carved times over,
Coded rhythms of continents
Animal skin stretched, carefully nailed,
So our heartbeat is not lost _
The snare, congas, kpanlogo, tabla, taiko,
Talking drums speaking faraway tongues _
Stories killed, stories buried,
Stories denied, stories untold,
Perhaps we were just not stopped before
When our stories were not dangerous
But the Reporter is still here.
Hear the words
And see what they have seen:
Robert and Dori Maynard
Woodward and Bernstein
Margaret Bourke-White
Howard Imazeki
Gary Webb
Robert Capa
Anja Niedringhaus
Gerald Vizenor
Gwen Ifill
Joe Oyama
Gordon Parks
Hear that Music in the Skin,
Feel that Story in the Tree,
Banned by slave owners,
The Drum holds the Message,
The Pow Wow stirs in starlit nights
The Slap-Tone conviction that comes to us
The Dance cannot be silenced; listen:
Printers rumble, digital pages scroll, newspapers turn,
Borders fade into illusory walls,
Starving children, covered up documents, the ravages of war
The Voice through the centuries
Asking Questions
Even if no one cares to hear the Answers,
Accurate, objective, fast, ethical
No matter what they say,
I am deranged but I am not deranged
I am fake but I am not fake
I am afraid but I am not afraid
I am the Drum, the Tree, the Story.

HIROSHIMA a poem by Yuri Kageyama read with Kaoru Watanabe

HIROSHIMA

A poem by Yuri Kageyama
A reading by Yuri Kageyama
With Kaoru Watanabe of Kodo on fue flute, taiko drum and other percussion.
Recorded at Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Studio in Brooklyn New York
For a memorial for poet, publisher and educator Virgina Scott at Lehman College, the Bronx, New York
September 20, 2014.

they wander like a whisper
still
over this city
blending with the sea breeze
the soft light
the cracks of scars
not just one ghost or two
but tens of thousands
who all looked up and saw a flash
turning people into dead globs of charcoal;
there are no photos from that day,
they wander, crawling, naked, moaning,
flesh hanging like tatters;
they’re asking that question,
we did nothing wrong
why oh why
when all it can do is
kill kill kill kill
nothing else
turning skin eyeballs laughter head back legs
into a keloid of hell,
but no one really answers.

IMG_3244 kaoru

Proud Mom: Isaku in action in Boston

A Link to Isaku in action at Berklee College of Music in Boston with Sumie Kaneko on shamisen.
And two more clips on this blog. Thanks for posting.

Rise of the Yuricane _ Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry

We are a mom and son team _ musician Isaku Kageyama and poet Yuri Kageyama. And we were featured in this delightful and tasteful show called “Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry,” hosted by Mr. Clay Corley, Sr., who lives in Philadelphia, and is a poet and writer himself. He’s putting us in great company. Among those he has featured on his show are Ornette Coleman, Sonya Sanchez, Quincy Jones, Amiri Baraka.
It was a true discovery to experience my work in a show like this, especially juxtaposed with Isaku’s music. I thought I was so familiar with all the material. But everything felt so fresh, seeing one’s own work through someone else’s perspective.
Please click HERE to hear how Clayton has put together our poetry and music, and HERE for the conversational interview by Clayton and his poet partner Donna Kirven, about our backgrounds, feelings, lives and intentions of our art.
One question I was asked was: If I were to describe my work as a kind of food, what would that be?
So I said, “Water,” something that is everyday but essential, shining in the light into whatever color, tasteless, but becoming part of our bodies.
And Donna said that was a very unusual answer, and she liked it.
Later, I happened to look on Isaku’s blog and I saw he was likening his taiko playing to mineral water. So I guess we are a mom and son team.
Thanks for having us on the show: www.sojpradio.com And thanks for supporting our work.

A Song for Aung San Suu Kyi

Isaku is in another Berklee College of Music project _ this time a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi:
Music & Lyrics Sara Gamon, Arrangement Galen Willett, Lead Vocal Tiffany Wilson, Ensemble Shilpa Ananth, A.A. Enriquez, Joanne Jett Galindo, Yun Huang, James Miring’u Kamwati, Minako Yabe, Rendra Zawawi, Congas Enø & Judith Soberanes, Drumset Andrés Marín, Bass Galen Willett, Guitar Nat Svecha Saralamba, Taiko Drums Isaku Kageyama, Auxiliary Percussion Yuki Kanesaka, Andrés Marín, Sean Peters, Galen Willett. Produced by Sara Gamon, Mixed and Mastered by Takuto Kaneko, Video by Paulette Waltz. Thanks to Berklee College of Music.

Taiko _ both American and Japanese

Taiko takes a freeer American fun festive flair at the North American Taiko Conference at the “Taiko Ten” outdoor concert at Stanford University FRI Aug. 19, 2011. Isaku Kageyama played with his fellow yonsei and other friend taiko drummers Masato Baba, Yuta Kato, Shoji Kameda, Jen Baik and Chris Bergstrom.
Taiko is at once American and Japanese, fun and free, and plain good music.

Amanojaku taiko in “Jazz Advance”

I wrote about taiko as modern music and how Tokyo taiko legend was made by Yoichi Watanabe in this piece on Amanojaku for “Jazz Advance.”

Isaku takes taiko to another place

Isaku Kageyama believes taiko must claim its legitimate place in the world of great music.
Japanese culture is beautiful.
But unless Japan can be part of the world and see its place in the true sense _ with all the duties, responsibilities as well as rewards involved _ it won’t work.
Art is a way of facing up to that important and universal Question _ and maybe one of the few ways where there is a true Answer.
Luis Silva made this multicultural video statement in his gorgeous documentary for WeAllJapan, that says it all.
LONG LIVE GREAT JAPANESE TAIKO MUSIC.