Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Fredrick Zydek


The Button Box
Copyright © 2012
by Fredrick Zydek

After some 50 years of asking his paternal grandmother questions regarding their family history and recording her responses in notes, the early wire recorders, a Sony reel-to-reel recorder, and later cassettes, Fredrick Zydek has finally selected some of those conversations in this memoir of those sessions. The reader will quickly appreciate that his grandmother, Bertha Zydek, could be poignant, evasive, opinionated, funny and sometimes disapproving of the family history she related him. To her credit, his grandmother refused to answer some of his questions because she felt the answers were none of his business but neither was she intimidated by some of the scandal that rippled through the family over the years. Through the years she would even talk about some of the disappointments she experienced because of her children and an in-law or two she didn’t really care for. But overall, The Button Box is a celebration of an American family so typical it will often remind you of your own clan. — from the publisher

The Conception Abbey Poems
Copyright © 2011 (3rd edition)
by Fredrick Zydek
CreateSpace ornate, even elegiac, style which counterpoints his subject...formal language and rhythm sustain its aloof seriousness and acceptance ...eloquent... — The Hudson Review

Fredrick Zydek...has a delicacy with words. He has lived and worked to master them, has uncovered their unavailable intricacies...he pleases by distinctive phrasing and by control of the language — Richard Eberhart, Annex 21

In the Abbey Poems, Zydek is able to discover, or at least, attempt to discover, his place in a place, the Abbey, and its place and power over him. It is, essentially, the study of a man interacting with what he understands is God, nature, himself, all the usual suspects, indeed. Zydek elevates the Abbey to his own Paterson — it is a place that he listens to, and wants and allows to listen to him. — Eric Hoffman, Nebraska Territory

Charles Taze Russell
Copyright © 2009
by Fredrick Zydek
The biography of an American original. Charles Taze Russell was founder of the Watchtower Bible and Track Society. Many religious groups, including the Jehovah's Witnesses, the International Bible Students Association, the Laymen's Home Missionary Movement, Dawn and other Bible student groups have formed around his teachings. &151; from the publisher.

Journey to the River
Copyright © 2012
by Fredrick Zydek
The forty meditation poems of Fredrick Zydek’s Journey to the River, inspired by David Wagoner’s Straw For the Fire, a collection of poems, half poems and fragments David gathered from Theodore Roethke’s notes and notebooks in the Roethke archives at the University of Washington, first came into being in the 1960s when Wagoner, Zydek’s teacher, recommended Zydek spend some time in the Roethke archives. Soon after, Zydek wrote “18th Meditation: Journey to the River,” followed by additional meditations. The poems collected here represent decades’ worth of rumination on the human condition by one of America’s finest and most prolific poets. — from the publisher

Few people hunger more desperately to know Cosmic Truth than Fredrick Zydek, and even fewer find this hunger as funny. Zydek is like one of our Neanderthal ancestors climbing a tree to reach the Moon, making a grab at it, falling headlong off his branch onto the dirt, laughing at himself, then shambling off to find a taller tree. Journey to the River is a set of 40 “meditations”—long, loosely associative reflections on the human condition—gathered from a lifetime of seeking for the divine. The poems move in tone from whimsical reflections on human frailties (like turning forty), to poignant laments for lost times and loved ones, to a devastating description of an institution for mentally disabled children, and closing with an account of Creation in which Mother God points Her spatula at the hearth and says Light! And light it does. Zydek’s compassion, love of the natural world, robust humor, and delight in words is in evidence on every page. — Lance Wilcox, Elmhurst College

Learning the Ways of Coyote
Copyright © 2010
by Fredrick Zydek

Learning the Ways of Coyote. is a fictionalized story of the last Quinault woman to live in the old ways and what it took to move her from her traditional home along Lake Quinault to government housing in the upper village. It is a story of tenacity that is rich with Northwest Indian lore and tradition, a story that endears us to Grandmother Redwing and her grandsons who are being mainstreamed into American culture. It is a novel of pathos and humor, a story of cultural conflicts and spiritual maturity. — from the publisher

Old Pinhead
Copyright © 2011
by Fredrick Zydek
Winthrop Books

This novel is s great reminder why we began and maintain community based programs for people with developmental disabilities. Institutions were often hell holes and prisons. This is Zydek’s best novel yet — a real insight into the way it was to be born with retardation in the past and an superb reminder and beacon for normalization in the lives of this population. — Christopher Thomas, author of On Plums and Dying

In his own story, the character Donald Walters - “Old Pinhead” - describes the trajectory of all human transformation: from love, to its disappointment, and back again. Realities collide as the residents of the small Washington town of Perkins Prairie confront issues of race, ability, sexuality and religion. This is a vision of rural America in the 1950s that foreshadows the social complexity of our own time and dares us to consider the “other” in our midst. This book will make you want to change your world., — Jason Ranek, author of The Crossing

Zydek's novel takes us back to the time in America when people with retardation were forced to live in state institutions. They were either warehoused or worked like slaves, depending upon their abilities. This is the story of how one young man planned and executed his escape over a five year period and the circumstances that finally lead him to a life that permits him freedoms and choices.

This is, without question, one of the best novels I've ever read. — Eric Hoffman

I was on the edge of my seat. It was like being at the movies. I could see it all. Well written. What my dad used to call "a real page turner." — William Fredricks

It's not only a good red — it's a book the helps us remember a time in our history to which we must never return. — Marjorie Steltz

I'm so glad I read Learning the Ways of Coyote first. Knowing the characters ahead of time made these new adventures all the more interesting. His characters grow as the story develops. Keep 'em coming. — Patrick Kemp

Storm Warning
Copyright © 1983
by Fredrick Zydek

Fredrick Zydek...innovative and sometimes startling revealing fundamental struggles to master the invisible and match the incredible in rich landscapes. — Laura M. Grover

Stumbling Through the Stars
Copyright © 2004
by Fredrick Zydek
Holmes House Publications

Contrary to its self-effacing title, this fine collection takes us on a graceful journey through realms of sun, star, moon, and planet — those elemental forces that have moved humans to ponder the meaning of the universe ever since we first stood upright and gazed at the night sky. We're fortunate that Fredrick Zydek decided to offer us his own meditations on these ancient symbols, for in his wise and poignant poems he manages the difficult feat of vividly portraying what he calls the "celestial stuff caught in the sacred act of dancing." It's a triumph that transports us, through the power of his language, to a wonderful place where "the magnificent defeats of life fizzle into nothingness. — Steven Blaski, author of Keep the Killer Asleep

Yes, in these compelling poems Fred Zydek does indeed go "stumbling through the stars / one moral maze at a time," but the celestial irony is that he does the stumbling with grace, imagination, and well-crafted control. And a further irony is that for him the stumbling seems more a blessing than a curse: "Some days I'm so full of the light-headedness / of doubt, I don't even trust the mirror/ in the hall. Why are questions so delicious?" Zydek's poems take him, and the reader with him, into the maw of a solar system that offers no pat or watered-down solutions. Those are for the complacent and the brain-dead catechized. "Pity the moon," he writes, "and all those things with answers. / Better to wade out into the stuff/ butt naked." Bravo and amen! — William Kloefkorn Nebraska State Poet

Zydek's title reminds me of Herrick's wish to "Knock at a star with my exalted head." It is a collection that might have been foreseen from his earlier books, with their emphasis on the visionary and spiritual values of everyday experience; it is also a collection that no one else could have written. From the tongue-in-cheek "Flapping the Sheets" to the sober lyricism of "Day Moon" and "Terra Firma," these poems show a mind measuring itself against the vastness of interstellar space. First and last, the poems are celebratory, and what they celebrate is life itself. — Roy Scheele, author of From the Ground Up

There are no better moon poets than Fed Zydek. Nor are there better mullers. Again and again he shows me in this collection that mulling is no porous art. No matter how small or large, even stones have songs. And I am delighted to believe him. — Don Welch, author of The Alley Poems

To buy Fred Zydek's Stumbling Through the Stars, send a check for $7.95 ($6.95 + $1.00 for postage & handling) to Holmes House Publication, 530 North 72nd Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska 68114.

There’s something disarming about Zydek’s poetry; it requires some attention to his unadorned, straightforward lines to realize how profound they really are. Most of Zydek’s poems are stylistically modest and accessible, though others (generally the best of them) feature startling metaphoric leaps and even passages of outright surrealism. Zydek’s is also the poetry of a man who would really like to know The Truth about the Cosmos but has a chastened, amused sense of our inability to do so. His poetry has always had a distinct spiritual cast, though the thought of DNA-programmed, carbon-based lumps of flesh trying to make contact with the Beyond strikes him as at once moving and comic. — Lance Wilcox

This Is Not a Prayer
Copyright © 2004
by Fredrick Zydek
Pudding House Publications

Fredrick Zydek is the author of five collections of poetry. He was raised and educated in the Pacific Northwest. After a four-year tour of duty with the United States Air Force, he returned to the Seattle area to attend Seattle University and the University of Washinton. Formerly a professor of creative writing and theology at the University of Nebraska and later at the College of Saint Mary, he is now a gentleman farmer when he isn't writing. He is the editor for the Lone Willow Press. — from the publisher

To buy a copy of This Is Not a Prayer, contact Pudding House Publications, 81 shadymere Lane, Columbus, OH 43213 (

T'Kopachuck: The Buckley Poems
Copyright © 2009
by Fredrick Zydek
Winthrop Press

It's a triumph that transpoorts us, through the power of language. — Steven Blaski, author of Keep the Killer Asleep

The poems in Fredrick Zydek's newest collection are an elegy for a lost world, a world richly brought to life in these sad, touching and delightful poems. Zydek's ghosts are real. He is our finest poet of memory. — Eric Hoffman, azuthor of Life at Braintree

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