From the Introduction of Lights Along the Missouri
Fred Zydek is a religious man who almost keeps a sense of religion out of his poetry, but it keeps coming through. His secular nature presents screens of effort coping with the natural world and practical truth. The light of religion sifts in from time to time despite his cryptic realism, the apt actualities of his verse.
He has a delicacy with words. He has lived and worked to master them, has uncovered their unavailable intricacies, has found out their possibilities as related to him. His work is strong, present, real and good. He is a pro-testant who long since got over protesting and as a philosopher can exhibit man sided truth. It is indicative of his humanity that many of his poems are dedicated to friends. The fact that he is generous in this way impresses the reader with the social nature of poetry. Zydek is not a pious man in a cloister, nor is he a shouter in the street, but he is thinking man of deep reactions to feelings, who has lived widely and fully.
From “The Death of Plecostomus” with its humor, from his adroit villanelle “Coast Song” and “Last Words for Ralph: The Oldest Goldfish I know” to “The Death of a Jesuit” Mr. Zydek’s poems are informed by wit and re pleasurable by wit and charm. In the days of Fem Lib it is eye-catching to read his “24th Meditation: Man to Man:, not vindictive or superior, but a poem of novel force and invention. He pleases by distinctive phrasing and by control of the language, by dramatic timing and endings, and by the richness of what he has to say, which gives a sense of purity and mature style to his directness and to his subtleties.
- Richard Eberhart
LIGHTS ALONG THE MISSOURI was published in 1979 by the University of Nebraska Press as part of it’s ANNEX 21 Poetry Series. It has been out of print for some time. I recommend going to Bookfinder.com or Powellbook.com where out of print and rare books can sometimes be found.