Gary Snyder Reading

image by Tim Mahoney

Gary Snyder reading, image by Tim Mahoney

Poet Gary Snyder read on September 17, 2014 at the University Art Center. This event was attended by English Department Communications intern Tim Mahoney, who had this to share:

Last week, CSU’s English Department invited renowned author, Gary Snyder, to campus for a reading of his latest work. While I was annoyed that I had missed the turn for the University Center for the Arts, instinctively heading towards the library (where I spend many of my nights), I was excited that this visit was not strictly for business.

I’ve always enjoyed attending the readings sponsored by the English Department. Our reading series draws many talented authors to campus to share their fiction, non-fiction, or poetry with students, faculty, and the Fort Collins community. This semester, we were lucky enough to have Gary Snyder come and read from his new volume of poetry, beautifully entitled, This Present Moment. Before he began his reading, we were told that the event was to be moved to a larger auditorium to accommodate the large number of people in attendance. There was a slight delay as the ushers clambered to set up the new venue, and move the audience row by row to the new location, but the move was quick and seamless. Although I heard a few groans from some of the patrons, as they gathered their things and prepared to move down the hall, it was amazing to see so many people come out and show their support for the English Department’s reading series. Soon after everyone was settled, Snyder was welcomed to an uproarious applause and the reading was underway.

Gary Snyder reading, image by Tim Mahoney

Gary Snyder reading, image by Tim Mahoney

Snyder, who was immortalized in Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums, and who participated in the historic Six Gallery Reading — which launched the Beat Generation Movement — took the stage to read selections from his latest volume including poems about his college sweetheart, his late wife, the beauty and destructive nature of forest fires, Indian marital arrangements, relaxation, and life’s many paths.

He opened with the poem dedicated to his college sweetheart, reminiscing about the time he spent with her, perfectly capturing the wonderful power of nostalgia and past love. His next poem, “Off the Trail,” dedicated to his late wife Carole, took us even deeper into that strangely wonderful feeling of remembrance. His ability to look back at his life with such clarity and grace moved me in ways that might have been missed had I only read his poems in print.

No path will get you there, we’re off the trail,
You and I, and we chose it!
~Gary Snyder, “Off the Trail”

Gary Snyder reading, image by Sarah Sloane

Gary Snyder reading, image by Sarah Sloane

Hearing poetry read has a completely different feel; the author’s voice and tone enhance the words. To fully experience a poem, I need to hear it performed. Snyder’s performance of his work was spectacular to say the least; his voice, breaths, and personality all contributed to an experience that cannot be contained on paper. I left the auditorium that night a true enthusiast of his work.

I recommend that every English major should attend these readings. It was incredible to hear Snyder’s work, and to see him perform his poetry. Sitting there with friends, classmates, and professors, as well members of the larger community, I couldn’t help but be moved by Snyder’s poetry and his passion for life, nature, and love of living in the present moment.

Gary Snyder singing books, image by Tim Mahoney

Gary Snyder singing books, image by Tim Mahoney

Next reading in the Creative Writing Reading Series: Writers’ Harvest with Ira Sukrungruang and Sasha Steensen, Poetry and Prose, University Center for the Arts, Museum, Thursday October 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, Mike Liggett, Tae Nosaka, and the Poudre River Library District.

All events are free and open to the public. For additional information e-mail For a full listing of 2014-2015 Creative Writing Reading series events, please visit:


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