Zen: The Rocks of Sesshu

Article excerpt

Chicago Review has frequently investigated connections between Zen and poetry, perhaps most fatuously in the special issue on Zen published in Summer 1958. Lucien Stryk, one of the principal practitioners of a Zen-influenced poetics, has been a frequent contributor to the magazine. STRYK provides the following comments on two poems from the Winter 1968 issue:

The setting of "The Pit"is Saipan, and the poem is based on a most harrowing personal experience on the island in World War II. If there is a connection between that poem and "Zen: The Rocks of Sesshu," it's that my war experience in the South Pacific led to a profound fascination with Japanese culture, and more importantly to a powerfully felt need for what I hoped Zen discipline might help fulfill. "Zen: The Rocks of Sesshu" was written in 1962, while I served as a visiting lecturer at Yamaguchi University, and its setting is the Joei Temple Garden, where the great painter Sesshu served as a Zen priest in the 15th century - he designed the rock garden, one of the most famous in Japan. …