‘British Museum Reading Room Memories’

One of the kindest ‘boon companions’ that I met in the cafe at the BM, was the charming and delightful Polish/ American poet : Lucien Stryk (1924-2013) . Nicknamed ‘Lucky Stryk’ by his schoolmates after his first poem was published while he was still a schoolboy, Lucien was a life-long poet, who is probably best-known for his translations of Japanese Zen poets .

Certainly, in my conversations with him, he would passionately explain the poetics of haiku to me.  Incidentally, I recently won a haiku – writing competition, so I concur that haikus are  a lot of fun to write!

Lucien was living with his family in London at this time (late 60s early 70s)  at 7a Homer Row, W1H 1 HU , and   I recall my first meeting with him in my diary (April 28th 1969):

‘I met the Zen Buddhist poet, translator and Fulbright scholar Lucien Stryk …excellent man’.

I have been re-reading Stryk’s poetry ( not the Zen haikus), and he really produced many beautiful poems such as:  ‘Dreaming to Music’, ‘Rooms’, ‘Cormorant’, and the delightful ‘Chekhov in Nice’, which I have only just read.  By an extraordinary coincidence, I also wrote a poem about Chekhov, where I imagined him visiting Bagara in Queensland, Australia.  I wonder now, if perhaps I  had read ‘Chekhov in Nice’ years ago, but I don’t think I did.

In reaquainting myself with Lucien’s work, I came across the poetry of his son – Dan Stryk , whose poetry I also admire.   On her website, Stryk’s formidably talented artist wife Suzanne,  published a You Tube clip of the fascinating meeting that took place between Lucien and the actor, Michael Pennington, on the Trans-Siberia express train.  An extraordinarily synchronous meeting , which enabled Pennington to understand Chekhov better.

Pennington, who was researching the life and work of Anton Chekhov for a one-man show he famously played, was greatly helped and influenced in his project  by Lucien’s  wider knowledge of the writer, and. especially, the time he spent on Sakhalin.







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s