By Lucien Stryk
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.
Years of translating Zen poems and religious texts have given Stryk a special sense of the particular, a feel for those details which seem to define us, they are so much a part of our lives. For Stryk, poetic activity is not an effort to surpass these details or give them significance but an activity that exists among them, as ordinary as breath and as important as a speech. There are no boundaries here between the common and the wonderful; one always involves the other. Stryk’s poetic power rests in the sureness of his plain speech and his insistence on a direct, sympathetic attention to the world he actually inhabits. Awakening to the world's morning and the poem's fresh speech are essentially the same.
Notes for a Guidebook, The Pit and Other Poems, and Afterimages: The Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi (translated with Takhashi Ikemoto) from The Swallow Press, and Zen: Poems, Prayers, Sermon, and Interview, World of the Buddha, and a new collection, Zen Poems of China and Japan from Anchor-Doubleday. He is also editing the Tri-Quarterly special issue on Asian literature. Mr. Stryk teaches English and creative writing as well as Oriental literature at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Lucien Stryk is the prize–winning author and editor of more than two dozen volumes of poetry, translations, and edited collections.
Save 20% ($9.56)
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center