Mar 24, 2018 - 04:51 PM  
  Welcome to Chicago Poetry Press
CJ Laity is Mr. Chicago Poetry

Poetry Press

Go to the homepage with calendar
The Chicago Poetry News
Journal of Modern Poetry

Chicago Poetry Scene Top 135

· A Cram On WBEZ
· After Hours Press
· Anobium
· Another Chicago Magazine
· Antena
· Anti-War Poetry
· Apparatus Magazine
· AquaMoon
· Audio Party
· Barbara's Bookstore
· Beach Poets
· Big Other
· Bob Boone's Teacher's Hangout
· Book Cellar
· Book Slut
· Book Stall
· Caffeine Theatre
· Center on Halsted
· Chaotic Radio
· Chicago Amplified
· Chicago Calling
· Chicago Literary Club
· Chicago Poetry Brothel
· Chicago Poetry Club
· Chicago Poetry Project
· Chicago Poetry Neutral Zone
· Chicago Public Library
· ChicagoPublishes (City of Chicago)
· Chicago Reader
· Chicago Readers Blog
· Chicago Shakes
· Chicago Slam Works
· Chicago Writes
· College of Complexes
· Columbia College
· Columbia College Events
· Columbia Poetry Review
· Cracked Slab Books
· Curbside Splendor
· Danny's
· Dollar Store
· Drinking and Writing
· 826 Chicago
· Encyclopedia Show
· Featherproof
· Gapers Block Book Club
· Girl Speak
· Golden Rule Jones
· Green Mill
· Guild Complex
· Gwendolyn Brooks Center
· Homolatte
· Illinois Arts Council
· Illinois Poet Laureate
· Illinois Poets Society
· In One Ear at Heartland Cafe
· JackLeg Press
· KuumbaLynx
· La Bloga
· Lake Forest College
· Lethal Poetry
· Letter eX
· Literago
· Literary Chicago
· Louder Than A Bomb
· Loyola
· Mango Tribe
· March/Abrazo
· Mental Graffiti
· Milk Magazine
· Muzzle
· Myopic Books
· Neighborhood Writing Alliance
· Neutron Bomb
· Newberry Library
· Next Objectivists
· Northwestern
· Northwestern Press
· Oyez Review
· Paper Machete
· Parlor Reading Series
· Partner Dance Press
· PerformInk
· Poetry Center of Chicago
· Poetry Foundation
· Poetry Magazine
· PoetryPoetry
· Poets and Patrons
· Powells
· Printers Ball
· Printers Row Lit Fest
· Proyecto Latina
· Puddin'head Press
· Publish Chicago
· Quickies!
· Quimby's
· Ragdale
· Rambunctious Review
· Reading Under The Influence
· Real Talk Ave
· Rec Room
· Revolving Door
· Red Rover
· Rhino
· 2nd Story
· Series A
· Seven Corners
· Shakespeares Monkeys
· She Writes
· Silver Tongue
· Slampapi Blog
· Small Garlic Press
· Spoon River Review
· StarWallpaper
· Sunday Salon
· Sun Times Books
· Swan Isle Press
· Switchback Books
· Tallgrass Writers / Outrider Press
· The2ndHand
· Third World Press
· Tianguis Bookstore
· TimeOut Books
· TriQuarterly
· Tuesday Funk
· Twilight Tales
· U of C Poetics
· U of C Press
· U of I Press
· Underground Library
· Unscene Chicago
· Vaporacle
· Virtual Artists Collective
· Weeds
· Weighed Words
· Woman Made Gallery
· Woman Made Gallery Audio
· Women and Children First
· Young Chicago Authors

Right Now . . .

There are 29 unregistered users and 0 registered users on-line.

You can log-in or register for a user account here.

Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 10:42 PM
Chicago Poetry Reviews: Click Headlines .
Lucien Stryk at Harold Washington Library
Presented by Poets and Patrons
Reviewed by C. J. Laity

Lucien Stryk at Harold Washington Library, photo by C. J. LaityOn the afternoon of Saturday, May 22, Poets and Patrons celebrated its 50th year of support for poetry development, by presenting a reading and discussion in the Harold Washington Library's Author's Room, with 80 year old poet Lucien Stryk. Having published his first book over 50 years ago, and having published over 25 books since then (including editing Heartland and Heartland II), Stryk was the perfect American poet to represent this Chicagoland not-for-profit organization.

Poets and Patrons co-workshop leader, Charlie Rossiter once printed some of Lucien Stryk's haikus in a publication called Third Coast Archives. Years later, Rossiter finally met Stryk in person at a poetry reading in Barrington. Since then, he's featured Stryk on his website,, and he also persuaded Stryk to appear for this "group of like minded souls" at the library. In an introduction to the event, poet Jared Smith confessed his work is heavily influenced by the work of Stryk, and he suggested contemporary poetry in general has also been changed for the better by the work of this master of language.

Demonstrating an amazing amount of stamina for a poet of any age, Stryk read and spoke for two and a half hours, with nary a dull moment. The time went by in a flash. Cautious in the selection of every word spoken during his introductions to his poems, Stryk came off as very articulate, personable, and comfortable with his audience. As a matter of fact, the original plan was to have a discussion followed by a reading, but an audience member suggested that the program should be done in the opposite order, and Stryk simply said "fine" and proceeded to follow a play-list scribed in dark, black ink. He also felt comfortable sharing truths about himself. For example, few probably know that Stryk tried his hand at fiction, but found what was most important to him was crafting a beautiful paragraph with sentences that rang with imagination, not plot or creating living characters. For this reason, Stryk felt it was best to stick with poetry.

Stryk was totally in control of his reading, giving every word he's written equal importance through his perfect enunciation. At one point he started a poem over because he misread one single word. He centered his energy as he read, and released it like the hiss of a pressure cooker, with poise that most poets envy, in a near hum of a tone that was mesmerizing. His voice worked into a contained frenzy, building up into a crescendo, as unapologetic as an accelerating freight train, creating a rift in reality, which summoned memories as if they were spirits. While listening to Stryk's poetry, I experienced an out of body sensation.

Although Stryk used a lot of rhyme in his early work, there was none of that going on in his presentation at the library. The poetry he read was grounded in the immediate and the universal. Similes and metaphors such as "thick as bees" or "stone tears" filled the seventh floor of the library and stopped time for the audience, eager to listen.

In the remarkably imagerial poem "The Balloon", Stryk touched upon his childhood relationship with his father, with a story about a lost toy disappearing like "a pin against the thunder clouds." Like the balloon itself, Stryk took advantage of objects (such as his father "toying with his pipe") to bring the listener into his world. In another poem about his father, the words in a crossword puzzle ("black bean soup") become the catalyst objects, exhuming repressed memories. The vivid descriptions and the confidence of Stryk's visions were startling. In the poem "Elm", which is set in a backyard in DeKalb, beetles were "smaller than rice grains" and "frost spiked the twigless air". In the poem "Cherries", "twelve nations bleed" as Stryk's lips "break the skin" of the fruit: an amazing metaphor comparing Americans to the less fortunate ones who are starving.

Stryk, who is highly critical of the "state of the world today," explained that at some point, in the magic act he calls his writing career, "reality had to be taken into account," due to "warfare" and his "part in it." His years fighting as a combat soldier in the South Pacific during WWII in many ways led to the making of his poetry. His war experience more than scarred him, it elevated him, and made him feel like there was something in his life he needed to prepare for. So he chose "this moment in our sad history" to read some war poems which manipulated the listener's senses. Stryk brought me into his vision so powerfully that I could actually smell the "sun blown stench . . . leaking back" like "garbage cans filled with chop suey."

As a translator, Stryk's first exposure to Japanese culture came after serving in the military with the mission to kill the Japanese. After the war, he discovered the unique culture of the Japanese people and he was deeply impressed by it. He learned that the "enemy" was just as human as he was, and that they were forced to do things they had no willingness to do, just as he was. He also discovered the Japanese to be much more advanced in the fields of literature and philosophy. During the library show, Stryk explained his interest in Asian thought and Zen Buddhism, not with philosophical speeches but with wonderful scenes from nature, such as ducks "brushing tails like silly thoughts shared" or pigeons stitching "the clouds with circling." He pondered the differences between "the man who thinks or the man who thinks he thinks" and took authority over his subject matters, such as with the "climber" who "pulls himself along as if by the very guts."

Stryk also shared some poems so new the ink was barely dry. In comparison to his collected body of works, his new poems were lacking in strength, when it came to the clarity of the imagery, as can be seen in the words "Summer sings, bird hums" from "Drifting". But even in Stryk's most lacking poem, his brilliant poetics far out surpass most contemporary writers, and as can be seen in the poem "One", a humorous tale of the single yellow tulip which pops up out of fifty bulbs planted, the voyage of Stryk's verse has not yet ended.

During the program, Stryk also offered the participants invaluable writing advice. He suggested, sometimes merely by his own example, that poets ought to be aware of their own "deep ignorance" if they expect to have "anything to say about the world." Stryk believes poets should write about everything concerning them and everything that happens to them, and he describes poetry as the chance to say what needs to be said to as many people as possible. He believes the time after events such as 9/11 is exactly the time when poets need to write the most. And he believes the "sad" world has taken a wrong turn and he is out to help set the world right.

The beauty of Stryk's poetry is that it is essential, returnable and intense. He chooses the right words in the right order with the right sound. And his highly cultivated but original rhythm and tone are rarely matched in the poetry scene today.

C. J. Laity is a Chicago Poet. His book, License To Quill, will be available at the Puddin'head Press table at this year's Printers Row Book Fair.

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help:
Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by Press.

Note: On Saturday, May 22, Lucien Stryk read and spoke for over two hours at the Harold Washington Library. was there to cover the entire thing.

spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
BlockRTop.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
  Poetry Contest
· Enter Our Contest
BlockRBott.gif spacer.gif spacer

spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
BlockRTop.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
Order a book
The Ultimate Chicago Poetry Anthology
Clever Gretel by Jennifer Dotson
JOMP 15 Is Here
Postcards from Poland by Joseph Kuhn Carey
Journal of Modern Poetry 16
Vape Mania
Jomp 17
BlockRBott.gif spacer.gif spacer

spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
BlockRTop.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
· Buy JOMP 18
· Buy JOMP 19
· Buy JOMP 20
BlockRBott.gif spacer.gif spacer

spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
BlockRTop.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
  Poetry Publishing
Chicago Poetry Press publishes the highest quality poetry in beautiful, perfect bound editions. We rely on your continued support to operate, because we are not funded by any corporation, foundation, government agency or university. You can always contact
CJ Laity at Publisher@
BlockRBott.gif spacer.gif spacer

spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
BlockRTop.gif spacer.gif spacer.gif
  eX-ceptional 150
· Acme Artworks
· Alarm
· American Perspectives
· Answer Tag Home Press
· Area Chicago
· Avant Chicago
· Bailliwik
· Beard of Bees
· Black Arts
· Blossom Bones
· Bohemian Pupil
· Borders Open Door Poetry
· Born Magazine
· Bucktown Arts Fest
· Chance Operations
· Chicago Artists Coalition
· Chicago Cultural Center
· Chicago Dramatists
· Chicago Innerview
· Chicagoist
· Chi Labor Arts Fest Blog
· Chicago Magazine
· Chicago Quarterly
· Chicago Review
· Chicago6Corners
· Chi Town Daily News
· Christian Poets Society
· cinematheque
· Common Review
· Conscious Choice
· Contra Tiempo
· Conundrum
· Court Green
· Crab Orchard
· Cross Roads
· Curious Theatre
· Elastic Arts
· Elder Stories
· EM Press
· Empty Bottle
· F News Magazine
· Fast Geek Press
· Fence
· Fifth Wednesday
· Free Lunch
· Free Street
· Front 40
· Gapers Block
· Gargoyle
· Haiku Society
· Haymarket
· Heartland Cafe
· Hemmingway Foundation
· Highland Park Poetry
· Hotel Amerika
· Hour Glass
· Hull House
· Humanities Fest
· Hyde Park Art
· Improv Olympics
· Intersections
· In These Times
· The Ivory Tower
· Kalamu
· Karamu
· Kedzie Press / The Green Parent
· Lake Claremont
· Lawyers For Arts
· Lisle Library
· Literary Chicago
· Literary Pizazz Radio
· Lit Line
· Links Hall
· Looptopia
· Love Chicago
· Lumpen
· Machine
· Make Magazine
· Manual of Style
· Mayapple Press
· Mayor's Office of Events
· MetroMix
· Mexican Fine Arts
· Midland Authors
· Midwest Literary Fest
· Midwest Zines
· Milk Weed
· Millions
· Moria
· Mule
· Muse Letter
· Naperville Writers
· National Writers Union
· Nelson Algren Committee
· Neofuturists
· Nextbook
· Ninth Letter
· Old Town Folk School
· Open Book
· Osbey Books
· O Sweet Flowery Roses
· Other Voices
· Otium
· Palatine Slam
· Paper and Carriage
· Paper Mustache
· Perpetual Motion
· Plainfield Poetry
· PM Poetry
· Poem Present
· Poetic License
· Poetry Cache
· Poetry Daily
· Poetry Radio
· Poets and Writers
· Poets Kitchen
· Polvo
· Polyphony
· Pudding House
· Punk Planet
· Reconstruction Room
· Redmoon
· Roctober
· Rose Metal
· Room 315
· Rubba Ducky
· Sawbuck
· Scars Publishing
· Screwball
· Second Run
· Seminary Co-op
· Seventen Bishop
· Shark Forum
· Shelter
· Shortpants
· Skeleton News
· Small Happy
· Stop Smiling
· Sourcebooks
· Spareroom
· Spondee
· Stone Jones
· Story Studio
· Story Quarterly
· Street Level
· Teatro Luna
· This Is Grand
· Ticket2Write
· Time Out
· Uncommon Ground
· Unlikely Stories
· UR Chicago
· Venus
· Visions For Chicago
· Wordsfest
· Writers Workspace
· You Are Beautiful
BlockRBott.gif spacer.gif spacer

Web hosting provided by TechFinesse