Wordsworth & Basho: Walking Poets

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May 23, 2014 – November 1, 2014 all-day
Dove Cottage & The Wordsworth Museum
Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9SH
included with admission
The Wordsworth Trust
015394 35544
Detail of Yosa Buson's Okunohosomichi-emaki. Image courtesy of Kyoto National Museum

Detail of Yosa Buson’s Okunohosomichi-emaki. Image courtesy of Kyoto National Museum

Matsuo Bashō is as famous in Japan as Wordsworth or Shakespeare is in Britain. Although Bashō lived over a century before Wordsworth, the two poets had much in common.

They both pioneered the use of everyday language in poetry, they both used the natural world to express their ideas, and they both composed their poetry as they walked.

Each found creative inspiration in nature, and for each, the act of walking itself was a creative process.

Seeing their words, whether in Wordsworth’s small notebooks in his cramped handwriting or on Bashō’s beautifully produced and illustrated scrolls, tells us much about how they each perceived and wrote about the world around them.

This exhibition features manuscripts and early printed editions of work written by Matsuo Bashō, William Wordsworth, and Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, who is now recognised as a significant writer in her own right.

The exhibition also features new works by contemporary artists working in a wide range of media, responding to the manuscripts and what originally inspired them in ways that are as fresh, creative and radical now, as Wordsworth and Bashō were during their lives.

These new works have been created in a spirit of collaboration, just as Wordsworth collaborated with his sister and fellow poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge – and just as Bashō collaborated with other Haiku masters.