Zen, Poetry, the Art of Lucien Stryk

By Susan Porterfield | Go to book overview

Verse: Free and Otherwise

Editor's Note: The Ohio Review devoted one 1982 issue to an examination
of free verse, given the rumors of its demise. "Clearly there is confusion
. . . and uncertainty," the Review states, concluding that "it is time to
confront them both." Stryk's contribution to this discussion makes clear
that he is neither confused nor uncertain.

Poets, like other artists, are notorious for advancing favorable theories about the methods they use, condemnations of those they don't. When in 1967 I brought out Heartland: Poets of the Midwest, I was pleased to have included the "prose poems" of Karl Shapiro, one of which contained: "Why the attractive packaging of stanza? Those cartons so pretty, shall I open them up? Why the un-American-activity of the sonnet? Why must grown people listen to rhyme? How much longer the polite applause, the tickle in the throat?" It shouldn't have surprised anyone that Karl Shapiro, a few years later, published a very careful book of sonnets, to "polite applause." Embarrassing perhaps to no one except the anthologist: I had written in the introduction to that book, "Sometimes, as in the case of Karl Shapiro, whose first work was cunningly crafted as that of his British contemporaries, there are surprising conversions."

How can anyone aware of the tugs and thrusts of modern verse condemn the forms that carry the achievements of Yeats, Eliot, Crane, Frost, Thomas and Stevens, and that may have been responsible for the tensions distinguishing them? Such poets might have claimed that only the lesser would have found their chosen verse forms hindrances, and thinking of Yeats, how could anyone fail to see that the sweep and intensity of, say, "Lapis Lazuli," is in part the result of his having to find the rhyme:

One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.

-53-

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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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