A Swallow Press Book
By Lucien Stryk
“Like Japanese art, the poetry of Lucien Stryk is spare, compressed, and simple—minimalist art at its very best. But Stryk is no Japanese, and his representations of tornadoes, elm trees, willows, and farms revitalize these primary images of midland America. Without them there could be no Midwest; and Stryk deserves the gratitude of his readers for helping to rescue this precious world from oblivion.”
Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin University, Midamerica XII
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. Stryk’s poetry is neither an attempt to surpass these details nor an attempt to give them significance. It is an activity that exists among them, as ordinary—yet as important—as breath. Stryk’s poetic power rests in the sureness of plain speech and his insistence on a direct, sympathetic attention to the world we actually inhabit.
Collected Poems, a gathering of three decades of work, contains nearly all Stryk’s poems, including the best of his Zen translations and a book–length section of new poetry. This book is a revelation of the wonderful amid the familiar by a poet whose language and vision have found their maturity.
Lucien Stryk is the prize–winning author and editor of more than two dozen volumes of poetry, translations, and edited collections. More info →
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Yves Bonnefoy is probably the most prominent figure in the generation of French poets who came into public view following World War II. Dedicated to poetry more as a means of spiritual illumination than as a technique for creating artistic monuments, he uses what he conceives to be the brokenness and poverty of language to enable us to glimpse a wholeness lacking in our contemporary world.
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.
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.