Saturday, February 21, 2009

From Yuri To Yuri (continued)

From Yuri To Yuri _ Japanese Womanhood Across Borders Of Time
A Contemporary Renku Poem (a work in progress) continued from previous:
By Yuri Matsueda and Yuri Kageyama


i finally know / why being young hurts more / it's not just we feel everything more clearly/ we don't have as many memories / everything isn't yet a blur/ you haven't felt this anguish, have you, this same pain / babies/ wanted unwanted/ Cesareans, abortions, stillbirths, breech births, miscarriage/ that little baby who never was / we're harassed on the job, molested on the train, date-raped and then raped by that stranger that criminal you despise but can barely remember his face / we lose weight and self-confidence and dreams / we can't find a job/ we are vulnerable / hungering for love, respect, understanding / when we know better / really / that no one understands/ we watch them die, hobbled, losing their minds, decaying with cancer, bed-ridden, speechless / we stand alone when they leave / face to face/ the hole / a dirt-filled grave/ we no longer bear the waiting of that fetus growing within us / wanted unwanted / no longer thirst for love / reaching for that partner / for babies/ wanted unwanted/ we don't remember / in/ our own death/ we can't forget /






you are my daughter
the little girl i never had
that woman asleep in my son's arms
nursing a new life that has yet to be

but i see you are gone
leaving behind nothing
but a deep passage of time
and a shaking pool of tears






i fly

without wings




throw me in the seven seas
where my young breasts freeze

in the black waters

my hair

they gleam

and I float

lost in time

I am so lost in time

Dance by DAIRAKUDAKAN's Akaji Maro

Maro in "Symphony M." Photo by Nobuyoshi Araki.

The four suit-clad cynical undertakers perpetually wait for death with their scrutinizing flashlights.
The followers, their naked bodies painted in white, twisted red cords of umbilical cords dangling from their heads, crack their whips in merciless sadism.
And the troupe's leader Maro Akaji _ the corpse, the mother, the imbecile _
softly fluttering his sinewy arms in the dark silence like a deformed but beautiful swan, confronts his own death and the legacy of Butoh in his "Symphony M."
The work, his first piece centered around his solos in seven years, had a four-day run this month at Setagaya Public Theater in Tokyo.)
DAIRAKUDAKAN pieces are often filled with kitsch references to pop culture and everyday life.
The latest work is more stark, almost devoid of the usual musical score.
Stomps, the hiss of falling sand and the breaths of the dancers are what we hear.
At the opening, a rope that looks like a chain of fossilized bones and a mirror are the only props.
Often, Maro, 65, leaves much of the dancing to the younger members, and makes his appearance to mainly deliver his presence _ his energy and his message.
In this piece, he dances.
And what a dance it is _ in one moment, writhing on the floor in a painful muscular tension that defies disease and death a la Hijikata, in another, sputtering nonsensical lines as he shuffles from one dancer to another examining their poses in befuddlement.
Ultimately, the piece is all about the relationship of the artist with the future _ Maro's complex but totally honest relationship with his dancers _ not just the dancers who accompanied him on that stage but also all the dancers and non-dancers everywhere.
It is a testament to that relationship _ and his success as troupe leader, master and teacher _ to witness how his 14 male back-up dancers are all very strong and in superb form.
They deliver so completely Maro's choreography in both technique and spirit.
In one scene, Maro acts as a commander for his dancers, soldiers standing at attention in line.
When he shouts his final order, the dancers crumble in unison, trembling and mumbling at once, transformed into the trademark Butoh style.
It is a perfect moment _ an expression of defiance and integrity in choreographed stupor.
In the closing sequence, Maro dies, his arms outstretched like Christ, at the center of a white cube of nothingness and the eternal universe.
The dancers arduously roll that box around on the stage like the mission they are inheriting from their teacher.
But as Maro dies, he also gives birth, his face contorted in a muted scream, his legs open to the audience and to the world.
And he gives us himself, a Buoth legend.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Praise for "Pow Wow"

Reviews on "Pow Wow _ Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction from Then to Now"

“Reed and Blank have selected molten and magical tales that dramatically explore the consequences of our attitudes toward race, ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality .... This is a live-wire, from-sea-to-shining-sea collection in which we hear America singing.”

Library Journal:
"Another wonderful anthology from Reed, this is highly recommended.”

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

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A poem for Winchester Nii Tete, a young but master percussionist from Ghana living in Japan

A poem for Winchester Nii Tete, a young but master percussionist
by Yuri Kageyama

that moment
sound spills
bouncing bubbles of invisible gems
exploding softly from warm antelope skin
through the dark air
fragrance of a forgotten African flower
roosters, stripes in squares,
spilling on rolls of fabric unfolding
black on Kandinsky beige,
red on blue,
unseen but seen
no mistake
in a single stroke
understanding all
generations and generations speak
by your touch


More rocking taiko from HYBRID SOUL
Isaku Kageyama (taiko)
Chris Young (guitar)
Patrick Glynn (bass)

April 30, 2009 20:00 at Shinjuku LIVE Takanoya Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
May 15, 2009 20:00 Ekoda BUDDY Ekoda, Tokyo
May 29, 2009 20:00 Roppongi EDGE Minato-ku, Tokyo

And try rocking yourself at Isaku's TAIKO WORKSHOPS:

WHEN: 2/13, 2/17, 3/24, 3/31
WHERE: Igusa Kumin Center B1 Music Room
5-7-22 Shimo Igusa Suginami-ku Tokyo 167-0022
Google Map
HOW MUCH: 4000 yen (2000 yen with student ID)

Video above: "Yagi Bush," a Japanese folk tune, at Mandala in Tokyo Nov. 11, 2008.

Company You Keep

"POW WOW _ Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction From Then to Now," edited by Ishmael Reed with Carla Blank, (cover design by Ann Weinstock) just came out, gathering works from the likes of (as photographed clockwise from top left): Ntozake Shange, Alejandro Murguia, Benjamin Franklikn and Gertrude Stein.
Works are in alphabetical order and so my short story "The Father and the Son" follows "Sweat" by Zora Neale Hurston, and comes right before "Moses Mama" by William Melvin Kelley _ some exalted company I keep.
Among others in the book: Langston Hughes, Al Young, Russell Banks, John A. Williams, Grace Paley, Mark Twain, Chester Himes.
From the cover:
"Celebrated novelist, poet and MacArthur Fellow Ishmael Reed follows his groundbreaking poetry anthology FROM TOTEMS TO HIP-HOP with a provocative survey of American short fiction .... By presenting many different facets of the American experience, these stories challenge official history, shatter accepted myths and provide necessary alternatives to mainstream notions of personal and national identity."
My story is about death, motherhood, identity, music, love.
In the Foreword, Ishmael Reed says my story exposes the stupidity and cruelty of the patriarchal family.
That, too!