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The Gary Snyder Reader by Gary Snyder

1999; 617 pp. $35. Counterpoint.

Except for Gary Snyder, post mid-twentieth century American poetry might never have gotten further out-of-doors than the nearest garbage dump, golf course, or catfish farm. And despite his protegés, Snyder probably remains the poet who's ground away the most sole tread hiking through wilderness. That happy-dog, defining-moment grin Ginsberg caught in his cover photo of a younger Snyder high among rocky, snowy peaks tells it all: utter exhilaration at unexaggerated altitudes.

If you're reading this, you already know if you want the book. It is, as Jim (Fup) Dodge says in his introduction, a "Greatest Hits," along with both new and newly published prose and poetry, plus the East West Journal and Paris Review interviews.

Most aging poets just grow old; without mocking the term or the man, this one can be recognized as an elder. He knows stuff we'd like to know, and he's positioned himself to be one in whose presence learning is possible. Heartwood. It will burn through till dawn.

"After twenty years of walking right past it on my way to chores in the meadow, I actually paid attention to a certain gnarly canyon live oak one day. Or maybe it was ready to show itself to me. I felt its oldness, suchness, inwardness, oakness, as if it were my own. Such intimacy makes you totally at home in life and in yourself. But the years spent working around that oak in that meadow and not really noticing it were not wasted. Knowing names and habits, cutting some brush here, getting firewood there, watching for when the fall mushrooms bulge out are skills that are of themselves delightful and essential. And they also prepare one for suddenly meeting the oak.

?From A Place in Space


ISBN: 1582430799

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