February 15, 2008

AN APPRECIATION: Turning to poet Lucien Stryk for comfort upon the tragedy at Northern Illinois University – an excerpt from his “Death of a Zen Poet: Shinkichi Takahasi (1901-1987)"

It was one of those moments one stands outside one’s body, staring at the silhouette, dumbstruck, not wanting to believe words coming in. The phoned message from Japan was that the greatest modern Zen poet had died. I waited for the eulogies, a voice to cry out at the passing of a man who made fresh visions of the world, made wild and powerful music out of any thing: shells, knitting, peaches, an airplane passing between his legs, the sweet-sour smell coming from a cemetery of unknown soldiers, the crab of memory crawling up a woman’s thigh, a sparrow whose stir can move the universe. A man who showed that things loved or despised were, when all’s said and done, as important and unimportant as each other. But all was silence as I looked out, hoping for a cloud of his beloved sparrows bearing his karma wheel around earth.
Lucien Stryk is an American Zen poet, translator and former English professor at Northern Illinois University, where he taught from 1958 to 1991. He was born in Poland and moved to Chicago at a very young age. This is excerpted from “Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk,” by Susan Porterfield, published by Swallow Press.


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March 31, 2008  

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