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

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

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

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

We are in good company.


Kyoto Review cover

Kyoto Review cover

The writer Yo Nakayama has also translated my poems.
I so liked his versions I’ve read them with my poems.
Mr. Nakayama is an academic and a poet, too, and he has a flock of long hair and reading glasses maybe, and he is wise and soft and brave.
Or so I imagine, as although I maybe have met him, I can’t really remember.
I vaguely remember reading this review when I was younger, and frankly I didn’t really think much of it.
I was too busy dealing with things that went with trying to survive and being creative I did not really appreciate how this older poet was being supportive and so poignant.
And so poetic.
I am older now and do.
Nakayama died in 1997, it says online.
But his writing lives on.
Here, this person I know through Facebook, of all ways, has shared in a message this precious, kindhearted review of my work.
I am grateful, of course, and feel blessed.
But I also feel a sense of vindication about being a poet _ that we are all connected in doing the right, eternal thing by being poets.
Please read the review.
I’ve also updated my Review section on my site with this addition,
Sorry this is belated but thank you, Mr. Nakayama, truly from the poet’s heart:

Saying it her own way
a book review by Yo Nakayama in Kyoto Review, 22, Spring 1989
of “Peeling” by Yuri Kageyama, I. Reed Books, Berkeley, CA

New and important. Yuri Kageyama was born in Japan, but grew up in American culture.
Her work as contrasted with those of previous generations is very articulate and beautiful.
Should you take up this, her collection of poetry, you’ll find 32 exciting poems under five different sections.
In the first section she remembers time spent with her mother. Yuri seems to know where she is from, as here in a poem in which she describes her mother’s profile.

Her face from the side
the cheekbones distinct
is an Egyptian profile sculpture
an erotic Utamaro ukiyoe

and her mother’s lessons:

As soon as I would awake some chilly morning, she would
tell me to go smell the daphne bushes leading to our door.
I still remember their fresh fruitlike pungence

As Yuri grows older, she becomes uncomfortable with her mother and begins to hate her and her culture, which is alien to the American scene.

I dread your touch
when you return
that melts the hurt and vengeance
of wishing
to strangle you

Yuri feels almost physically hurt when she thinks of it. This is one of the characteristics your easily notice in her poetry. She is a physical writer, by which I mean that Yuri tries to write out of her own physical senses, especially when she talks about her involvement with music. In a short poem, “Music Makes Love to Me,” she confesses, “Music makes love to me everyday/ spilling cooled cucumber seeds/ wet flat disks to the tongue/ tickling/ shooting them with exalta-jaculation into my ear//” or in the section “Thought Speak,” she conveys her inner sensations as she listens to music:

the frantic flap of love doves taking dawn pre-cognizing flight
outside our window
the silence
between/your kisses

Or she describes her inner world as follows:

eyes closed
forsaken bamboo forest of the mind
hands groping
burrowing darkness like the earth
reaching out
shaking blood
muted and alone

As a young Japanese woman living in America, Yuri is constantly exposed to the situation that she has to say what she has to say: she, however, says it her own way, and I like it very much.
“A Categorical Analysis of the Asian Male or the Guide to Safe and Sane Living for the Asian Female” is a very funny piece in which she says there are four types: the Street Dude or “Lumberjack,” the Straight Dude or “Stereotype,” the Out There Dude or “Bum,” and finally the type four she calls the Ideal Dude, but this is the “Obake,” or the ghost, that is, she says “the perfect man who does not exist.” Once, Filipino writer Carlos Bulosan wrote that in America being a Filipino is a crime. And Yuri is, she says, “tired of the laundry men/ and the dirty restaurant cooks (cuz) they don’t have the powers.”

it’s okay
you see only the race in me
It’s okay
cuz, white man,
you have
to give

The best part of the book is, however, that which deals with her physical intimacy with her lovers and her own baby. She could have written a categorical analysis of a male partner or the guide to safe and safe mating for a serious woman as well. Only after she has a baby of her own, she begins to realize the importance of the “Strings/Himo,” which she once wanted so badly to break out and couldn’t. Her reflection on the total life: “Having Babies Versus Having Sex” is the final poem in this book. When she sees her man rocking the baby, and looks into Isaku’s eyes and cries with him, she reaches her conclusion: this is the culmination of her womanhood.

Your eyes
Are my eyes
That see and see what I have seen
They can’t ever understand
The love of a Japanese woman
Who waits
Pale powdered hands
Eyes downcast night pools of wetness
Fifteen years for her samurai lover
And when he comes back

Nothing’s changed
Nothing’s changed

These poems could never have been written by anyone but a poetess who has gone through the labor Mother Nature imposes upon the one who creates. If not for Yuri’s sensitivity and capability, this book wouldn’t have been born.

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

Reading poetry about women for women’s day in Tokyo

March 8, 2015 International Women's Day event in Tokyo.

March 8, 2015 International Women’s Day event in Tokyo.

I’m reading poetry about women at an International Women’s Day event in Tokyo SUN March 8, 2015.
I’m reading with Hirokazu Suyama on percussion and Yuuiichiro Ishii on guitar.
What the Dickens in Ebisu 7 p.m.
Many other talented poets and musicians at this fund-raiser for the Lighthouse Center for Human Trafficking Victims.
I’m in the opening segment with two other poets, Biankah Bailey and Joy Waller.
A good cause and good art and good people.

“Story of Miu,” a film written and directed by Yuri Kageyama. Dance and choreography by Yuki Kawahisa starring as Miu.

“Story of Miu,” written, directed and edited by Yuri Kageyama.
Yuki Kawahisa as Miu.
Dance and Choreography by Yuki Kawahisa.
Man and chief camera work by Rodrigo Albuquerque.
Woman in park Desiree Cantuaria.
Camera and other production work Raquel Prado, Rodrigo Albuquerque, Desiree Cantuaria and Yuri Kageyama.
Music “Nikata Bushi” by Isaku Kageyama on taiko drums and his Hybrid Soul, Chris Young guitar and Pat Glynn bass, with Yoshinori Kikuchi on shakuhachi.
Credit roll music “My Africa” composed and sung by Ayumi Ueda with Isaku Kageyama on percussion, Yoshinori Kikuchi shakuhachi, Yumi Sugimoto piano, Keisuke Higashino bass and Seiemon Sawada shamisen.
New York Film Academy.
October 2014.

A reply to a musician doing a song about Japanese women wearing cheap perfume

A reply to a musician doing a song about Japanese women wearing cheap perfume
CHEAP PERFUME _ A poem by Yuri Kageyama

that whiff snuggled in the commuter train
it makes him want to puke, he says
cheap suit, chubby arms, fat feet
she is smug and straight, he feels
rushing to work, she squirts it on
escape in a heavenly scent, dream of a faraway world
a sculptured bottle costs 3,000 yen
lots of zeroes fewer than what fashion usually costs
Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Chanel No. 5
a well-earned chance to inject that glitz high
a fragrant aura like an “OL” halo
to protect all women against chauvinist evil
it doesn’t take that much to know
No PERFUME ever comes CHEAP

My poem in a literary magazine

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

For women only

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”
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

Abortion _ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

_ a poem by Yuri Kageyama

circling earth spinning mind
I dread the scalpel and the guilt
the blood does not come

words careless words carefree
letters like scalpels that bleed
I am made of words

so without love
the fetus wrenched from within
so I turn to words

a story stillborn
abortion resurrected
yet I am made of words

taste the characters
sumi stroke patterns cover
my pale naked skin

come home my baby
womb wounds of words gaping wide
uterus darkness

^ — < This is a poem that developed out of an exchange with a writer on Twitter. The lines are all from my part of the exchange, but we set up a rule so that each had to follow an idea from the other, especially the last line, as an inspiration springboard for the next three lines of haiku. We wrote three lines each day. And we took turns. I never told this other person I was writing about abortion. I have subsequently changed the “we” in some lines to “I.” I guess I wanted the statements to be softer in the Twitter exchange by making them come from “we.” But I really meant “I.” I am grateful to the tweeter who helped me write this poem, a segment at a time, a day at a time, and to Twitter for giving us as a tool for personal poetic expression. It has a different feel from a poem written in a single sitting.

From Yuri To Yuri (continued)

From Yuri To Yuri _ Japanese Womanhood Across Borders Of Time
A Contemporary Renku Poem (a work in progress)

Yuri Matsueda and I have been taking turns, going back and worth, to build a narrative epic poem.
The section below, our latest, is by Yuri Matsueda.
My segment that preceded it is haiku.
All this follows our previous poems.
Our collaboration continues.





* * * * *


Ara-Saa (short for Around Thirty in Japanese)

around thirty
you’ve turned the corner
past your expiration date
still looking for mr right
clinging to a sex in the city view on life
strutting the career highway on jimmy choos
while your market value drops
a chloe bag on an outlet rack
there’s no space, get real,
between the cute nymphomaniac teen and
the victorious pregnant housewife
except for trips to massage salons
giggly ethnic dinners out with the girls
nowhere affairs with the married boss
stop wondering why
no one good asks you out
stop asking why
no one notices
you’re smart, beautiful, on-the-go,
in top notch belly-dancing-lessons shape
and ever so available
life is not a Yahoo auction
life is not a Disneyland make-a-wish-list
you must stop
and ask yourself
how you can become
that person
who can love
without asking
in return