With Rewilding, Nature Connection and Resiliency movements taking hold, I am wondering why the name Gary Snyder has never been mentioned. I came across the name today watching you-tube clips on how to build an A frame shelter of all things with a quote of his being used as the introduction and became intrigued. Several books listed below interested me, particularly Practice in the Wild.
Exert from Practice of the Wild
“The sky above the strip mall hung low and grey, which didn’t help the look of things. With the snow melting, the parking lot was filled with dirty cars and wet trash. People spilled into and out of the stores: a Subway; a Starbucks; a supermarket whose name I forget.
As I stood there, I was struck by how we humans are a strange lot, trading prairie, forest, fields and wetlands for these terrains of tar and concrete. It left me with a question. Why exactly is the contrast between these worlds so sad? What, specifically, is it that makes the parking lot seem so lost compared with the forest of trees or the field it used to be?”
Gary Snyder is an American poet (originally, often associated with the Beat Generation), essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Since the 1970s, he has frequently been described as the ‘laureate of Deep Ecology’. From the 1950s on, he has published travel-journals and essays from time to time. His work in his various roles reflects his immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has also translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese. As a social critic, Snyder has much in common with Lewis Mumford, Aldous Huxley, Karl Hess, Aldo Leopold, and Karl Polanyi. Snyder was for many years on the faculty of the University of California, Davis, and for a time served on the California Arts Council.
Practice of the wild
The nine captivatingly meditative essays in The Practice of the Wild display the deep understanding and wide erudition of Gary Snyder in the ways of Buddhist belief, wildness, wildlife, and the world. These essays, first published in 1990, stand as the mature centerpiece of Snyder’s work and thought, and this profound collection is widely accepted as one of the central texts on wilderness and the interaction of nature and culture. As the Library Journal affirmed, This is an important book for anyone interested in the ethical interrelationships of things, places, and people, and it is a book that is not just read but taken in.”
Describing the title of his collection of poetry and occasional prose pieces, Gary Snyder writes in his introductory note that Turtle Island is “the old/new name for the continent, based on many creation myths of the people who have been here for millennia, and reapplied by some of them to ‘North America’ in recent years.” The nearly five dozen poems in the book range from the lucid, lyrical, almost mystical to the mytho-biotic, while a few are frankly political. All, however, share a common vision: a rediscovery of this land, and the ways by which we might become natives of the place, ceasing to think and act (after all these centuries) as newcomers and invaders.
Mountains and Rivers Without End
When this landmark work was first published, Gary Snyder was honored with the Bollingen Poetry Prize, the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Orion Societys John Hay Award. Publishers Weekly named Mountains and Rivers Without End one of the best books of 1996. On April 8, 1956, Gary Snyder began work on a long poem entitled Mountains and Rives Without End. Initially inspired by East Asian landscape painting and his own experience within a chaotic universe where everything is in place, Snyders vision was further stimulated by Asian art and drama, Gaia history, Native American performance and storytelling, the practice of Zen Buddhism, and the varied landscapes of Japan, California, Alaska, Australia, China, and Taiwan.While a few individual sections of the poem have been published in literary magazines and a small bound collection, Snyders ardent fans have waited patiently through the past forty years for the completion of Mountains and Rivers Without End. The entire work appears for the first time in this volume.Traveling beyond its origins in the Western tradition of Whitman, Pound, and Williams, Mountains and Rivers is an epic of geology, prehistory, and planetary
The Back Country
This collection is made up of four sections: “Far West”—poems of the Western mountain country where, as a young man. Gary Snyder worked as a logger and forest ranger; “Far East”—poems written between 1956 and 1964 in Japan where he studied Zen at the monastery in Kyoto; “Kali”—poems inspired by a visit to India and his reading of Indian religious texts, particularly those of Shivaism and Tibetan Buddhism; and “Back”—poems done on his return to this country in 1964 which look again at our West with the eyes of India and Japan. The book concludes with a group of translations of the Japanese poet Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933), with whose work Snyder feels a close affinity. The title, The Back Country, has three major associations; wilderness. the “backward” countries, and the “back country” of the mind with its levels of being in the unconscious.
The Practice of the Wild
Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility.
Quote from Practice in the Wild
“The blue mountains are constantly walking.” Dōgen is quoting the Chan master Furong. — “If you doubt mountains walking you do not know your own walking.”
— Dōgen is not concerned with “sacred mountains” – or pilgrimages, or spirit allies, or wilderness as some special quality. His mountains and streams are the processes of this earth, all of existence, process, essence, action, absence; they roll being and non-being together. They are what we are, we are what they are. For those who would see directly into essential nature, the idea of the sacred is a delusion and an obstruction: it diverts us from seeing what is before our eyes: plain thusness. Roots, stems, and branches are all equally scratchy. No hierarchy, no equality. No occult and exoteric, no gifted kids and slow achievers. No wild and tame, no bound or free, no natural and artificial. Each totally its own frail self. Even though connected all which ways; even because connected all which ways. This, thusness, is the nature of the nature of nature. The wild in wild.
So the blue mountains walk to the kitchen and back to the shop, to the desk, to the stove. We sit on the park bench and let the wind and rain drench us. The blue mountains walk out to put another coin in the parking meter, and go down to the 7-Eleven. The blue mountains march out of the sea, shoulder the sky for a while, and slip back to into the waters.”
― Gary Snyder, Practice of the Wild