Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk

By Susan Porterfield | Go to book overview

Introduction to Encounter with Zen

I sit at a window overlooking snow-heavy pines in DeKalb, Illinois. Juncos, sparrows, bluejays dart to and from the bird-feeder on this bitterly cold day, a new year begun. It seems only yesterday I sailed to Japan for the fourth time. Before boarding the freighter in Seattle, I visited the Art Museum's superb collection of Oriental art. Two Chinese works of the Yuan Dynasty ( 1279-1368) were particularly impressive: a supremely delicate scroll of flowering plum by Yang Hui, and an anonymous piece which seemed almost prophetic, a nearly life-size representation in polychromed wood called "Monk at Moment of Enlightenment." Overwhelmed, I thought of the Japanese master Daito's awakening poem, written in the same period:

At last I've broken Unmon's barrier! There's exit everywhere -- east, west; north, south. In at morning, out at evening; neither host nor guest. My every step stirs up a little breeze.

Often when translating Zen poems, I had touched such an experience; yet, though poems of enlightenment like Daito's gave its essence, this work shuddered with release. I stood before the figure for some time, then grasped the source of my fascination: the monk's face was familiar, that of a Zen priest in the mountains near Niigata, the first enlightened Zennist I had met, so many years before.

Now I was going back to question how life and art of such men are affected by the philosophy, the quest intriguing. Since having tried, as they, to shape my life and poetry according to Zen principles, having translated and commented on some of its great literature, I sometimes wondered whether insights gained might be substantiated through encounters with serious practitioners, whether Zen's truth still lived. To know seemed necessary. My plan to collaborate once again with Professor Takashi Ikemoto of Japan,

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Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface x
  • Introduction 1
  • The American Scene Versus the International Scene 15
  • I. Lucien Stryk on Poems Ana Poetry 23
  • Making Poems 25
  • What? Why This. This Only 41
  • A World Language of Poetry? 48
  • Note on Translating Japanese Zen Poetry 51
  • Verse: Free and Otherwise 53
  • The Future of Poetry 55
  • Beyond Poetry 57
  • The Red Rug: An Introduction to Poetry 60
  • Lucien Stryk: An Interview 76
  • Ii. Lucien Stryk on Zen 97
  • Let the Spring Breeze Enter: the Quest of Zen 99
  • Beginnings, Ends 106
  • Zen Poetry 117
  • Painter and Poet 134
  • Shinkichi Takahashi: Contemporary Zen Poet 144
  • Death of a Zen Poet: Shinkichi Takahashi (1901-1987) 156
  • I Fear Nothing: A Note on the Zen Poetry of Death 166
  • Buddhism and Modern Man 176
  • Poetry and Zen 196
  • The Sound of Tearing/ the Destroyer of Books 211
  • Notes 215
  • Introduction to Encounter with Zen 217
  • Introduction to on Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho 223
  • Preface to Crow with No Mouth: Ikkyu 233
  • Introduction to the Dumpling Field: Haiku of Issa 240
  • Modern Japanese Haiku 251
  • Encounter with Lucien Stryk 269
  • III - On the Poet 277
  • Lucien Sfryk's Poetry 279
  • Notes 291
  • Earning the Language: the Writing of Lucien Stryk 293
  • From "Zen: the Rocks of Sesshu" to "Triumph of the Sparrow 314
  • Notes 337
  • Translating Lucien Stryk 341
  • Iv Selected Poetry of Lucien Stryk 345
  • Books by Lucien Stryk 387
  • Works Cited 388
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