Lucien Stryk stands in the center of a world that is both limited and boundless. His poems often deal with the intimate and everyday realities of life but in a way that leads the reader to see them anew and to perceive their essential uniqueness. In his poetic world, the eye is alive and sees significance in everything, even that which most might consider mundane: a squirrel, garage sales, the way light kindles a tree branch. To see deeply into the things that make up our world reveals them to us so that the world becomes a place of wonder, constantly revealing itself to us because we have opened our eyes to it. This act of revelation, for Stryk as well as for Zen Buddhism, is one of the primary functions of poetry.
Stryk's poetic language is on one level straight and simple, almost nonpoetic in its lack of embellishment. His apparent simplicity results from his interest in Zen, which finds virtue in art that maintains the integrity of the thing that is, that which is being observed. Poetry, to be poetry then, must be sincere, unpretentious, and, above all, honest. Little wonder that within Zen, poetry is not seen as an end in itself but rather as a measure of one's spiritual growth. The immense discipline exercised in Stryk's poetic craft is a way of communicating profound insights in a straightforward and concrete way.
At a casual glance, Stryk's poetry may seem parochial and personal. Its effect is just the opposite. He strives to find a common language for the inner void we share with all things, with the world. In a poem about a squirrel, Stryk does not use the squirrel as a symbol, so the creature isn't burdened with representing anything other than what it is. It only encompasses us just as we belong to what encompasses it. To put it more strongly, Stryk's pres-