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TRANSLATION THURSDAY: JAPAN FOCUS

Posted on November 14 2019

THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH

Last week, I followed the poet Bashō to Japan for a spot of momijigari - autumnal maple leaf viewing - tea and temples. Here are a few Japanese (inspired) poets to transport you to the other side of the world too. Time for some Tsundoku - book hoarding!

1. Matsuo Bashō  - Narrow Road to the Deep North (Penguin)

Matsuo Bashō  (1644-94) is considered Japan's greatest haiku poet and Narrow Road to the Deep North is an absolute masterpiece. Following the poet's five-month journey in 1689 into the north and west of the old capital, Edo, his work is full of Zen allusion, finely attuned to seasonal changes and vital rhythms. The perfect way to immerse yourself in the Japanese landscape and culture.

2.  Sinéad Morrissey - Between Here and There (Carcanet)

T S Eliot prize winning poet Sinéad Morrissey's second collection takes inspiration from across the globe from Northern Ireland to the antipodes. Between Here and There consists of four different sections which explore Japan's greatest bronze statue of Buddha at the ancient capital of Nara. You can read more about the influence of her time in Japan on her poetry in this interview.

3. Kenji Miyazawa - Strong in the Rain (Bloodaxe Books)

Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) is widely viewed as Japan’s greatest poet of the 20th century. Little known in his lifetime, he died at 37 from tuberculosis, but has since become a much loved children’s author whose magical tales have been translated into many languages. Recognition for his poetry followed much later and ‘Strong in the Rain’ is now arguably the most memorised and quoted modern poem in Japan.

4. The Haiku 100 Anthology (Iron Press)

This Haiku Hundred represents the outcome of the largest haiku event ever staged in the UK. IRON Press, in collaboration with the British Haiku Society, received more than 5,500 haiku submissions and this historic little book has sold more than 10,000 copies making it the biggest selling book of English language haiku in the UK. The Haiku 100 proved a watershed for IRON press, for the British Haiku Society and for the haiku form itself in these islands.

5. Travels with a Writing Brush: Classical Japanese Travel Writing from the Manyoshu to Basho (Penguin)

A rich and exquisite anthology that illuminates the Japanese tradition of lyrical travel writing over a thousand years. Roaming over mountains and along perilous shores, this anthology includes songs, diaries and poetry from famous works including The Pillow Book  to the writings of travelling monks. An intense poetic experience which will transport you to Japan.

PBS Members can order copies via the links with your 25% discount.

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