Peter MacMillan is a prize-winning translator, scholar, poet, and artist. He was born and grew up in a part of the Irish countryside surrounded by more horses than people. He graduated first in his class from the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin, and then went on to take an M.A. in philosophy and a Ph.D. in English literature. He spent two years as a Visiting Fellow at Princeton, Columbia, and Oxford universities. MacMillan is currently a Visiting Professor at Kyorin University and also teaches at The University of Tokyo. A citizen of both Ireland and Britain, he has lived in Japan for twenty-five years and strives to be a bridge between Japan and the world. His artist name is Seisai.
In addition to creating woodblock prints, MacMillan is also a poet and translator. His translation, One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (Hyakunin Isshu), was published in 2008, winning prizes in both Japan and the United States. He recently completed an English translation of the Tales of Ise (Ise Monogatari), to be published by Penguin in 2014. He has also published a collection of poetry, Admiring Fields.
More recently, MacMillan (Seisai) has been developing his career as a print-maker, and his first major series the “Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji” has already received wide recognition. Seisai’s inspiration for the series came from a book of translations that he has just finished on Mount Fuji in Literature.
The book begins with appearances of Mount Fuji in literature in the seventh century and gives over one hundred examples to the present day. Working on the book, Seisai became very conscious of the gaps between traditional Japanese culture and the reckless consumerism of present-day society.
His Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji seeks to explore these gaps and invites the viewers to think about the issues of sustainability and ways in which to preserve the resources of the world and the environment for future generations.
The artist’s name Seisai means “studio in the west.” It was created in homage to Hokusai, who inspires the artist greatly. Hokusai means “studio in the north” and also was one of the many names that Hokusai used. Seisai is an artist from the West who often works at the foot of Mount Fuji, west of Tokyo.
In the field of translation, MacMillan specializes in Japanese poetry, especially classical poetry. MacMillan’s translation of One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Translation of the “Ogura Hyakunin Isshu” was published by Columbia University Press, in spring 2008, and the Japanese edition, Eishiyaku Hyakunin Isshu, Kaoritatsu Yamatogokoro, was published by Shueisha Shinsho in March 2009.
The translation was awarded the Donald Keene Special Prize for the best translation of a work of classical Japanese literature and the Special Cultural Translation Prize from Japan Society of Translators in Japan (Nihon Honyakuka Kyokai) in 2008. He is currently completing a translation of the Tales of Ise, which will be published in 2014.
Admiring Fields is Aiden MacDermot’s first collection of poems. In it he writes about the pain and beauty of growing up in the Irish countryside and his experiences living in Japan. Admiring Fields, was published in Italy in a bilingual edition by Camponetta in July 2012. He is currently working on his second volume, The Inventor of Breezes.