Private viewing and artist talk: Sketches from the Poem Road

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March 30, 2015 @ 7:00 pm
The Poetry Society
22 Betterton Street
London WC2H 9BX
Japan Society
Private viewing and artist talk: Sketches from the Poem Road @ The Poetry Society

Free: limited availability (Priority will be given to Japan Society members)

Booking essential – book online here
Booking deadline: Thursday 26 March

Join us for a private viewing of Isao Miura’s Sketches from the Poem Road, with accompanying talks by Isao and his collaborator, the poet Chris Beckett.

In spring 1689, Matsuo Basho set off from Edo (now Tokyo) on a long risky journey to the north of Japan. He travelled light, he tells us, just a paper raincoat and cotton gown, his writing brush and ink. On his return to Edo, he wrote one of the defining works in Japanese literature, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which describes his journey in hai-bun – a mixture of poetry and prose.

In this collaborative exhibition of artwork and poetry, Isao and Chris aim to recreate something of the freshness and intensity of Basho’s iconic text, reflecting Isao’s own life-journey from the ‘deep north’ of Japan where he was born. For this private viewing, they will talk about the interpretative journey from text to image and the relationship between sculpture and drawing, before opening up the discussion to general questions. The talk will begin at 7.15pm, but attendees are invited to arrive from 6.30 to explore the exhibition at their own pace.

The show is the first in Isao Miura’s project on The Narrow Road, on which he is working during a six month Fellowship in the Foundry at Chelsea College of Art. The project will extend to other collaborations around the UK with artists and poets in Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow, culminating in a large show celebrating the 330th anniversary of Basho’s departure on the Narrow Road in 2019.

‘Every day is a journey, and the journey itself home’ – Basho

Isao Miura is a painter and sculptor from Akita in the ‘deep north’ of Japan. He left his village near Mount Chokai (an active volcano) and Kisagata Bay to study painting in Tokyo, later moving to London to continue his studies. Isao is now engaged in a project to translate Basho’s Narrow Road into visual images, to analyse its emotional power, its culture-defining charm, through paintings, drawings, calligraphy and sculpture. Isao began a Fellowship in the Foundry at Chelsea College of Art in October 2014. After months of research, he has picked three points along the Road to work on in Chelsea: Departure, the Killing Stone and Mount Chokai.

Chris Beckett was born in London but grew up mostly in Ethiopia, where his father worked at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa. He has been writing poems off and on since he was about 12 years old. Many years later he won first prize in the Poetry London competition 2001 and second prize in Chroma 2006.

His poems have been published in some great UK poetry magazines including Ambit, Envoi, Magma, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry London, Rialto, Seam, Smiths Knoll, Stand, The North, The Wolf and Wasafiri.

His second collection of poems, Ethiopia Boy (Carcanet/Oxford Poets), came out in 2013 and was described by Ian McMillan on Radio 3 as ‘remarkable and exciting’.

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email or submit the online booking form: