Tag Archives: Gary Snyder

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 andrewnmangan@gmail.com. For a full listing of 2014-2015 Creative Writing Reading series events, please visit: http://english.colostate.edu/docs/reading-series-poster.pdf

Gary Snyder Bio by Denise Jarrott

image by Jill Salahub

image by Jill Salahub

Gary Snyder Bio
by Denise Jarrott

The relentless complexity of the world is off to the side of the trail. For hunters and herders trails weren’t always so useful. For a forager, the path is not where you walk for long. Wild herbs, camas bulbs, quail, dye plants, are away from the path. The whole range of items that fulfill your needs is out there. We must wander through it to learn and memorize the field-rolling, crinkled, eroded, gullied, ridged (wrinkled like the brain) – holding the map in mind. ~From the essay “On the Path, Off the Trail” by Gary Snyder

Very few poets capture and engage with their landscape, both their physical and spiritual homes, like Gary Snyder. From the fog-shrouded Cascade Mountains of his home landscape of the Pacific Rim to the mysterious resonance of Japan, Snyder inhabits and converses with his world, and invites the reader to make a home in the world he both reflects and creates.

Gary Snyder is known among the Beat-generation and San Francisco Renaissance poets of the 1950s and 60s, alongside Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and other voices of their time. Those familiar with Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums will recognize Snyder as one of the characters, according to Kerouac, an “old-fashioned saint of the desert”, but also an anarchist, a poet steeped in the natural world of his native Pacific Northwest and adopted Far East.

Born in San Francisco and raised in and around Portland and Seattle, Snyder was immersed in the natural world from a very young age. Following a severe burn accident as a child that involved a significant time in bed and unable to work on his family farm, Snyder’s mother a “very high-strung, neurotic person with literary ambitions” brought him books from the Seattle library, and from that early literary influence, Snyder continued to read and write and question the influence of white society on the local native cultures and subsequently, the natural world he had, and would, come to know.

Snyder later attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but did not venture far from his beloved wilderness. He held jobs as a logger, seaman, and fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to degrees in literature and anthropology, Snyder also studied linguistics at Indiana University and Oriental languages at the University of California at Berkeley. It was in Bay Area that Snyder became involved with the poets who would define Beat poetry.

Flowing from his work on the trail crew at Yosemite National Park and involvement and practice in Zen Buddhism in Japan and India, Snyder began to write the poems he would be known for. His first book, Riprap and his translation of the poems of Han Shan, or Cold Mountain, were his first notable works in poetry. He is currently the author of sixteen collections of poetry including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Turtle Island.

In addition to being an award-winning poet and translator, Snyder has also written several books nonfiction and essays such as Earth House Hold and The Old Ways. Currently, he teaches at the University of California at Davis, where he has been on faculty since 1985. He has also held positions as a visiting lecturer at several universities and facilitated several writing workshops and was the former chair of the California Arts Council.


Gary Snyder will read from his poems at the University Center for the Arts on Wednesday September 17 at 7:30 pm.



Bio Bibliography:

Aronowitz, Al, Everyday Beat, excepted from Chapter 14: The Dharma Bum http://www.everyday-beat.org/everyday/essay/snyder/ accessed online, September 8, 2014.

Gary Snyder biography: The Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/gary-snyder

Snyder, Gary, “On the Path, Off the Trail” from The Practice of the Wild North Point Press, 1990.

Weinberger, Eliot, “The Art of Poetry No. 74”, Gary Snyder interviewed by Eliot Weinberger, http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1323/the-art-of-poetry-no-74-gary-snyder