Gary Snyder has been a major cultural force in America for five decades—prize-winning poet, environmental activist, Zen Buddhist, earth-householder, and reluctant counterculture guru. Having expanded far beyond the Beat scene that first brought his work to the public ear and eye, Snyder has produced a broad-ranging body of work that encompasses his fluency in Eastern literature and culture, his commitment to the environment, and his concepts of humanity’s place in the cosmos.
Prose selections include journals from his travels to Saigon, Singapore, Kyoto, Ceylon, New Delhi, and Dharamshala; key interviews from the East West Journal and The Paris Review, meditations on Buddhism and the surrender of self; a cultural survey of communal living; and notes from the lookout tower on Sourdough Mountain, where in stark isolation Snyder once watched for forest fires.
The Reader gathers poems from each phase of Snyder’s long career—from his fist collection, Riprap, to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Turtle Island, through his epic poem cycle that was forty years in the making, Mountains and Rivers Without End.
From freighter to firetower, Zendo to Himalayan mountain ridge, Snyder’s writings reflect a lifetime of study, journey, and the practice of everyday mindfulness. Gary Snyder has witnessed and captured our culture at the hinge of change and—time and again—his work has transformed us just as it has altered our understanding of literature and place in a purposeful life.