Prize-winning American essayist, novelist and poet Ishmael Reed has compiled into a new book the works of a Japanese woman who has chosen English as her language of expression to explore the themes of racism, sexuality, identity and family. Yuri Kageyama’s poetry and fiction underline her bicultural Japanese and American sensibilities for a challenging view of the everyday that debunks cultural stereotypes and lambastes male domination.
“They’ve called Yuri ‘cute’ often during her life. She’s cute all right. Like a tornado is cute. Like a hurricane is cute. This Yuricane,” Reed writes in his introduction. “Her poems critique Japanese as well as American society. The Chikan. The arrogance of the Gaijin, who, even when guests in a country, insist that everybody be like them. Some are erotic. You might find allusions to Richard Wright, Michelangelo, John Coltrane. Music is not only entertainment but like something that one injects, something that invades the nervous system.”
Yuri Kageyama is a bilingual and bicultural poet and writer, born in Japan, raised in Maryland, Tokyo and Alabama. Her works have appeared in many literary publications, including Y’Bird, Greenfield Review, San Francisco Stories, On a Bed of Rice, Breaking Silence: an Anthology of Asian American Poets, POW WOW: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction from Then to Now, Other Side River, Beyond Rice, Yellow Silk, Stories We Hold Secret, KONCH, MultiAmerica and Obras. She has two books of poems, The New and Selected Yuri: Writing From Peeling Till Now and Peeling. Her film “Talking Taiko” (March 2010), directed by Yoshiaki Tago, documents her readings and thoughts on art and life. She has collaborated in readings with music, visual art and dance, including an Isamu Noguchi exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has translated the words of dancer Suzushi Hanayagi for Robert Wilson’s performance piece “KOOL _ Dancing in My Mind.” She also translated Hiromi Ito's poems. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University and holds an M.A. in Sociology from the UC Berkeley. She lives in Tokyo .
Eric Kamau Gravatt is a jazz drumming legend, having performed with many artists, including Stanley Clarke, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Wallace Roney, Gary Bartz, Ravi Coltrane, Weather Report, John Scofield, Albert Ayler, Don Ayler, Yuri Kageyama, Roberta Flack, Sonny Fortune, Bill Frisell, Woddy Shaw, Derrick Trucks, Roy Hargrove, Bobby Hutcherson, Jackie McLean, Charles Mingus, Donald Byrd, Carlos 'Patato' Valdez, Ladjii Cammara, Booker Irvin, Pharoah Saunders, James Moody, Kenny Dorham, Blue Mitchell, Hank Mobley, Harold Wheeler, Tony Hymas, Donny Hathaway, Paquito D'Rivera, Hino Terumasa, Andrew N. White III, The Milwaukee Symphony, Jimmy Heath, Sam Rivers, Khalid Yasin, George Mraz, Savion Glover and Kikuchi Masabumi. He has taught at the Philadelphia All City Elementary School Student’s Symphony Orchestra, The New Thing Art & Architecture Center and the African Heritage Dancers & Drummers, both in Washington, D.C., as well as lectured at Howard University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Minnesota He lives in Minneapolis and leads Source Code.
Isaku Kageyama is the principal drummer for top taiko ensemble Amanojaku, in Tokyo, where he studied taiko under composer and Amanojaku founder Yoichi Watanabe from the age of six. He has also blended taiko with other genres to claim a place in the modern art scene for the traditional Japanese drum by leading his fusion trio Hybrid Soul, his extensive collaborations with Winchester Nii Tete, a percussionist from Ghana, and featuring taiko in creative club events for the young in Tokyo. He has played with Toshinori Kondo, Amelia Ali, Seijiro Sawada, Kazutoki Umezu, Kyosuke Suzuki, Chris Young, Pat Glynn, Craig Harris, NATA, Kansai Yamamoto, Yuu Ishizuka, Shintaro Sendo, Terumasa Hino and Takashi Yanase. He is a two-time National Odaiko (large drum) Champion. He was the youngest player to win the honors at the Mr. Fuji Odaiko Contest in 2000, at 18. He won the Hokkaido title in 2003. He has taught taiko in Brazil, where Amanojaku has repeatedly visited to instruct its taiko style. He lives in Boston and is studying at the Berklee College of Music.