I get such a nice write-up by Tim Hornyak in No. 1 Shimbun, the publication of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, I can’t believe it is really about me.
It’s called The Many Lives of Yuri Kageyama.
And it brings together the sides of me I usually like to keep separate _ the poet in me and the journalist in me.

“The prose is unvarnished, unflinchingly personal and adroit in quickly juggling themes of child abuse, racism and sexuality while maintaining a narrative flow,” he writes.

“Kageyama’s poems have addressed stereotypes about race and gender roles. They’re made even more powerful when Kageyama recites them with collaborators such as Ghanaian percussionist Winchester Nii Tete on African drums and Keiji Kubo on didgeridoo. Against the backdrop of a traditional Noh stage, it’s a heady, globalized mix of words and music.”

Thanks to Tim. Thanks to all the musicians who have helped my poetry. Thanks to the poets, the literary publishers, the songwriters, the photographers, the filmmakers. Thanks to all the people of Fukushima who have shared their stories with me. Thanks, above all, to all the honorable, creative and dedicated colleagues I have at The Associated Press.

OH MY BUDDHA _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama with Music composed by Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

_ a song about faith, love and other things
By Yuri Kageyama

My name is Yasodhara
Wife of Buddha
Mother of Rahula
I ride a white elephant
I am Siddharta’s woman

You took off to find Nirvana
Became a hero for the poor
You just took off one sunny day
And found enlightenment
While I’m stuck in the kitchen
Barefoot and pregnant, alone

(Repeat theme)

You’ve started a religion
See statues in your likeness
Of gold and bronze and wood
Sitting prim on that lotus
While I’m having your babies
Feeding them, aborting them, alone

(Repeat theme)

You remember I cooked you breakfast?
So you could go and contemplate
Sitting 49 days under the Bodhi tree
To discover, sacrifice, meditate?
While I’m crying in my misery
Breathing my prayers, alone

(Repeat theme)

You’re a superstar
I’m a nobody
You live in history
I die unknown
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
When I awoke
There was no sign of you
My universe went up in smoke
My universe went up in smoke
Oh, my Buddha
Oh, my Buddha

Sung by Tea Tokieda and Read by Yuri Kageyama.
Music composed by Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda.
Bass by Hiroshi Tokieda, percussions/tabla by Hirokazu Suyama Jackson and shakuhachi by Kouzan Kikuchi.
At Infinity Books AUG 7, 2016, in Tokyo.
Inspired by and dedicated to Toshinori Kondo, who is constantly exploring the meaning of the Asian sound/literarture/self in the world, and told me once that we should all start saying: “Oh My Buddha,” like the way Westerners say: “Oh My God.”
So this is a song about what it would like to be the wife of Buddha _ that behind-every-man-is-a-woman story, and how we women are selfless in love and almost always invisible:

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama

Buddha in Bangkok. Photo by Yuri Kageyama


HANDS OF A CLOCK is an R&B song for which I wrote the lyrics for music by Trupti aka Tea and Hiroshi Tokieda _ the same team for I WILL BLEED (featured in the previous post), as well as for “Oh My Buddha.”

HANDS OF A CLOCK is in the January 2016 issue of KONCH magazine, published by Ishmael Reed and edited by Tennessee Reed.

The January 2016 issue of KONCH also published my poem “A Crow’s Request.”

Hands of a Clock
Words by Trupti and Yuri Kageyama
Music by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda
Written to be sung by Sybil Thomas in her next album.

Verse 1

Hey, we’ve met before
You say the first night we meet
It feels like a life that’s come around before

Verse 2

Hey, shall we dance?
We’ve met many times in our dreams
I was sure I knew you at first glance


Long before a thing has begun,
We’re tied in a destiny of time
Ticking together as one


Like the hands of a clock
We are like the hands of a clock
The world keeps spinning
At every new beginning
We come back around
Like the hands of a clock

Verse 3

Hey, is this reality?
Will this last through the changing times?
‘Coz I am a true believer in eternity


Long before a thing has begun,
We’re tied in a destiny of time
Ticking together as one


Like the hands of a clock
We are like the hands of a clock
The world keeps spinning
At every new beginning
We come back around
Like the hands of a clock


Seconds Minutes and Hours
Are just ways time stays in a groove
When love has stopped our inner clock
Toward timeless love we will move

I WILL BLEED a song about love that defies all _ a finalist in a UK songwriting contest

I co-wrote the poem/lyrics with Trupti for “I WILL BLEED,” a song about star-crossed lovers inspired by Chikamatsu‘s double-suicides written for Bunraku puppet theater, about how love, no matter how simple, mundane and pathetic, endures, even in death.
The melody was composed by Trupti and Hiroshi Tokieda, who also plays bass in this fine rendition at his father’s Tokyo recording studio (SoundCloud below).
The musical composition by the couple songwriting team was selected a finalist winner in the U.K. Songwriting Contest in December 2015.
I am blessed to be collaborating with and just to know these two young brilliant musicians. I have seen them get married, despite being of different nationalities and backgrounds, tied together so absolutely through their love for music, and their love for each other.
They met at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where my son Isaku Kageyama graduated recently, and performed together in different musical groups, with both Trupti and Hiroshi.
They are our future, and the future of the best in music.
The best in us. All of us.
What I want to say in this song is that I still believe in love.
I wrote the poem and worked on the song with Trupti, knowing all the while that Trupti would sing it, and that Hiroshi and Trupti would compose the music together.
The song debuted at my poetry reading and tribute to my poet mentor Ishmael Reed at SFJAZZ CENTER in June 2014 (YouTube clip below).
They are the idea for this song.
They are this song.
I created this song for them.

I won’t cry (a)
Coz it’s in love that I bleed (b)
A bridge of ribbon that carries me (b)
Across waves of war no one can see (b)
I won’t run (a)
My blood will rush strong and drain (b)
All my pride, prejudice and pain (b)
Only our love will still remain (b)
I will bleed (a)
But I won’t flee,
Hell is what I desire (b)
I will bleed
But I won’t hide
Hell is what I desire
Such heavenly fire
I won’t sleep (a)
Until this ocean turns to wine (b)
On a night when our stars align (b)
Lying cheek to cheek no longer confined (x)
We will live (a)
You the east and me the sun (b)
Not afraid of different tongues (b)
Our blood joined will make us one (x)

reading my poem FUKUSHIMA in Tokyo


Reading my poem FUKUSHIMA with my YURICANE band _ Hiroshi Tokieda (bass), Yuuichiro Ishii (guitar), Hide Asada (guitar), Morgan Fisher (keyboards) and Trupti (vocals) at Tokyo Salon. A book party for Tokyo Poetry Journal, Nov. 13, 2015. Photos by Eba Chan.

fukushima tokyo salon

FUKUSHIMA a poem by Yuri Kageyama
Vocals Lyrics by Trupti and Yuri

It’s a Meltdown nation
Since Three-Eleven
Covered in the fear
Of unseen radiation
But don’t you expect
Any revolution
All you will find
Is fear and contamination.

Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
Instead of a holler
Hear just a whimper
They say it is safe
The kids like Chernobyl
Are coming down sick
With Thyroid cancer.


Well, they’re bound to keep on lying
But we’ve got to keep on trying
Though we’ve got one more case of cancer
So I’m not gonna let them cover up
Yes, I’m gonna be the Fukushima fighter

Y’all, it’s no hallucination
The refugees’ life
No compensation
No resolution
Just nuclear explosions
Get your dosimeter
Cesium in the water
Lost Imagination

Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
The radiated Brothers
Faces are hidden
Goggles and masks
Like an astronaut
From head to toe
The Invisible workers


Premature aging
Nerve cells dying
Sterility, deformity
Unborn baby
Blood count dissipation
Leukemia debilitation
DNA radiation
Godzilla’s affliction

Tsunami Demolition
God’s DeCreation
Genetic Devastation
Our next Generation.
Here in Fukushima
It rhymes with Hiroshima
No-go zones forever
The World must remember.


And we got stuck with massive meltdowns
They’ve got to stop with the clowning around
Coz here’s yet another case of cancer
No, I’m not gonna let them cover up
Yes, I’m gonna be the Fukushima fighter

Now they’ve gone by the point of caring
Some old bed they might be sharing
Won’t be long before we all get cancer
No, we can’t let them cover up
Let’s all get up and be Fukushima fighters