December 1, 2016

Mountains and Rivers Without End: The Zen Poet of Kitkitdizze


"Gary Snyder, the Zen poet, lives on a hundred backcountry acres in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, meditates mornings, and thanks his food before he eats it, clapping his hands together and saying “Itadakimasu,” which is Japanese for “Thank you very much.”

He likes a boilermaker at dinnertime (a shot of bourbon and a tall glass of beer) and, on occasion, the bullfrogs from his pond. “I follow the ‘Joy of Cooking,’ “ he says. “You’ve got to skin them and brine them overnight. She recommends rolling them in bread crumbs and frying them.” He finds that vulture feathers make the best pens for calligraphy, and collects them when he hikes. Some nights, he takes a blanket and a thermos of sake and a star map, walks along a gravel riverbed not far from his house to a spot among the mounded diggings left by the gold-mining ventures of the past two centuries, and, by the light of a red torch, works on the constellations....."
“Throughout human history and prehistory, the trail was only to get you somewhere,” he said. “What was important was what was off the trail. Food, roots, berries, dye plants, glue plants, poisonous plants, recreational-drug plants, squirrel nests, bird nests, everything you might think you’d need. What’s way off the trail are the places you go to be alone and have a vision and your own spiritual trip, maybe with some of those recreational plants”—knowing snickers from the kids—“and then you come back.” -- Zen Master - The New Yorker

Excerpts from Myths & Texts - Gary Snyder


Gary Snyder's bio, poems, and articles at the Poetry Foundation

Paris Review Interview - Gary Snyder, The Art of Poetry No. 74

Posted by gerardvanderleun at December 1, 2016 9:55 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

My favorite poet. Life is far improved with his words in it.

Posted by: C W Swanson at December 1, 2016 10:28 AM


Posted by: pbird at December 1, 2016 3:21 PM

YES. Sorry pbird... but YES. If anyone here wants to read a brilliantly funny bit Snyder penned many years ago, then treat yourself to the Smokey the Bear Sutra. And if anybody ever asks you what Smokey's middle name is... it's THE.

Posted by: Tom Hyland at December 2, 2016 6:43 PM

Also, a contemporary of Kerouac and Ginsberg, no?

Posted by: Cletus Socrates at December 4, 2016 4:29 AM


Posted by: Vanderleun at December 4, 2016 5:25 PM