A Swallow Press Book
Lucien Stryk has been a presence in American letters for almost fifty years. Those who know his poetry well will find this collection particularly gratifying. Like journeying again to places visited long ago, Stryk’s writing is both familiar and wonderfully fresh.
For those just becoming acquainted with Stryk’s work, Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk makes an excellent introduction. It includes his early essay, “The American Scene Versus the International Scene,” written shortly after his service in the Pacific during World War II, and “Digging In,” his first published poem, as well as some of his best-known pieces on Zen and Zen poetry. Among the latter are “Beginnings, Ends,” “Poetry and Zen,” “I Fear Nothing: A Note on the Zen Poetry of Death,” and his introduction to the great haiku poets, Issa and Basho. Selections of his most recent work include “The Red Rug: An Introduction to Poetry,” and an imagined conversation among all four leading haiku poets called “Meeting at Hagi-no-Tera.”
Porterfield’s informative collection includes essays about Stryk’s work as well as his own prose and poetry. As the volume makes clear, writing poetry is for Lucien Stryk a sacred act. It is both escape and communion, inseparable from life’s daily activities.
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The poetry of John Matthias has long been admired by other poets for the way it refuses to be categorized. Lyrical and experimental, cosmopolitan and rooted in place, it challenges our received notions of what poetry can be at the end of the twentieth century. This volume introduces the work of this significant American poet to readers previously unfamiliar with it and enriches the reading of those who have long admired it.
Lucien Stryk’s poetry is made of simple things—frost on a windowpane at morning, ducks moving across a pond, a neighbor’s fuss over his lawn—set into language that is at once direct and powerful. Years of translating Zen poems and religious texts have helped give Stryk a special sense of the particular, a feel for those details which, because they are so much a part of our lives, seem to define us.
The sharpness of Lucien Stryk’s poetry is made of simple things—frost on a windowpane at morning, ducks moving across a pond, an argument flailing in the distance, a neighbor's fuss over his lawn—set down in a language that is at once direct and powerful. Awakening is, in large part, an approach to what is most familiar by a poet whose language and poetic attention have found their own maturity.