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Nature's Writers Trail: Snyder

Library Guide for the Nature Writer's Trail.

Gary Snyder
May 8, 1930 - 

Gary Snyder is an American man of letters. Perhaps best known as a poet, he is also an essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist with anarcho-primitivist leanings. He has been described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology". In 1955 Snyder was among the poets who participated in the historic reading at the Six Gallery at which Ginsberg introduced his poem Howl. The following year Snyder traveled to Japan to study Zen Buddhism. In 1986 he began teaching at the University of California, Davis; he retired as professor emeritus in 2002. 

Snyder’s poetry draws on the mythic and religious experience of his own daily life in his verse. His free verse style exhibits a variety of influences from Walt Whitman to Ezra Pound to Japanese haiku. Prominent in his first two books of poems, Riprap (1959) and Myths and Texts (1960), are images and experiences drawn from his work as a logger and ranger in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. In The Back Country (1967) and Regarding Wave (1969), the fusion of religion into everyday life reflects Snyder’s increasing interest in Eastern philosophies.

  • "Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there." 

  • "As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalanced and ignorance of our times."

  • "Nature is orderly. That which appears to be chaotic in nature is only a more complex kind of order."

  • He attended Indiana University and the University of California, Berkeley.
  • He identified with the Beat movement and, from the late 1960s.
  • He became an important spokesman for the concerns of communal living and ecological activism.
  • He was featured in a documentary film entitled The Practice of the Wild.
  • He is famously known as the ‘Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology’.
  • While in attending the University of California he worked as a timber scaler and looked out for fire over the mountains, logger, etc.

  • Turtle Island (1974)
  • The Real Work (1980) 
  • A Place in Space (1995)
  • Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996)

  • Pulitzer Prize for poetry, 1975
  • American Book Award, 1984
  • Bollingen Prize for Poetry, 1997
  • John Hay Award for Nature Writing, 1997
  • Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, 2008

Turtle Island

Turtle Island is a book of poems and essays written by Gary Snyder and published by New Directions in 1974. Within it, Snyder expresses his vision for humans to live in harmony with the earth and all its creatures.

No Nature

"The greatest of living nature poets. . . . It helps us to go on, having Gary Snyder in our midst."--Los Angeles Times.

The 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.

The Great Clod

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet of Turtle Island: a meditative, scholarly memoir of Asia—“a book... not quite like any other but trademark Snyder” (Kirkus Reviews).

This Present Moment

'This present moment That lives on To become Long ago.'For his first collection of new poems since his celebrated Danger on Peaks, published in 2004, Gary Snyder finds himself ranging over the planet. Journeys to the Dolomites, to the north shore of Lake Tahoe, from Paris and Tuscany to the shrine at Delphi, from Santa Fe to Sella Pass, Snyder lays out these poems as a map of the last decade.

Mountains and Rivers Without End

Mountains and Rivers Without End is an epic poem by American poet and essayist Gary Snyder. Snyder began writing the thirty-nine poems contained in the epic in 1956 and published the final version in 1996.