Sky Navigation Homeward is Mikiro Sasaki’s New and Selected Poems in English translation, the poems being chosen by the poet himself, in the main from four previous highly praised collections in his native Japanese.
Sasaki is what Nobuaki Tochigi in his Introduction calls “a multifaceted poet”, having been a screenwriter in a cinema project, travelling widely and collecting vanishing oral traditions in rural Japan, trekking in Nepal and Tibet, and, for three decades now, being involved in a cabin-building project near Mt Asama– all activities that inform and greatly enrich his work. He also leads a rich literary life, not least in annotating the complete works of Chuya Nakahara, a major Japanese lyric poet of the early 20th century.
Two previous visits to Ireland, in 1999 and 2002 respectively, feature in a number of these lyrics which may be read both as encounters with an inspiring simplicity as well as prompts to recollect people and episodes from his youth.
In that sense, Sasaki is like the most engaging of travel writers, at once journeying outwards and inwards, ever attentive and open to both experiences.