On Lost Sheep

Born in the city of Hiroshima, Goro Takano is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Saga University, Japan, where he teaches English and Japanese/Western literature. His first novel With One More Step Ahead was published in US by BlazeVOX in 2009. His first poetry collection Responsibilities of the Obsessed (2013) and his second poetry collection Silent Whistle-blowers (2015) were also published in US by BlazeVOX.

Shiro Murano On Lost Sheep
Translated by Goro Takano • 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0-9987438-4-4 • $18
Cover Art by Jeff Sanner

Shiro Murano (1901-1975) was a Japanese Modernist poet, influenced by other poets from Basho to Rilke to T.S. Eliot. His poems fulfill Eliot’s edict against personality, as they come at stark issues like death in non-autobiographical form. And yet there’s tenderness here, where, “A poet’s heart / [is] something like a dove / Still, under the branch / Something uncanny  and alarming.” This is Murano’s first full-length book in English, ably translated by Goro Takano, a Japanese writer who most often writes in English. 


In order to survive at all as a poet Murano had to cross the treacherous boundary of pre and postwar cultural ideologies – the latter just as guilty in its omissions as the earlier era was in its excess. Hence Murano’s realism is of necessity a tragic one. He believed that the poet writes from the night of the world in the face of the forgetting of Being. The task of the poet was to break free of this night. Murano summed up his poetics as a yearning for authentic Being. Goro Takano’s translations pass through this difficult terrain with painstaking care, reflecting the precision of the original while at the same time not shying away from allowing the strain of such a task to show through – a strain which we both know is more than merely a linguistic one.
— Eric Selland

A volume of excellent poetry positioned thoroughly so as to render visible a giant puzzle piece in the development of modern Japanese poetry as a ‘post-Basho’ experiment infused with Heidegger, these translations balance glints of surrealism across a rich yet minimal canvas of realism. Though written for a domestic Japanese readership as the post-war bled into the Cold War, these poems reverberate just as vibrantly in English a half-century later.
— Jordan A. Y. Smith