WNET Whalen & Snyder – Snyder

[Gary Snyder in 1965]

Richard O Moore’s WNET Poetry continues  (continuing from here, approximately fourteen-and-three-quarter minutes in) – 1965, the young Gary Snyder)

Introduction:  Gary Snyder is another poet [along with Philip Whalen] identified with the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, and Reed College. Snyder now [1965] lives in Kyoto, Japan, where he’s a student of Zen, but for part of 1965, he was a lecturer in the English deparment at the University of California at Berkeley. When asked to ad-lib a biography, he gave his usual direct answer

GS: Well, I’d have to tell the truth. I was born in San Francisco and, at a very early age, I was moved to Seattle, where I grew up in a small farm, just north of Seattle. Later, about twelve, we moved to Portland, Oregon. I went to college in Portland, Oregon, graduated from Reed College, spent a little time at Indiana University, and then came back to the Bay Area, I went here to Berkeley and Oriental Languages department for about three years, and then, for the last eight years, I’ve almost constantly been living in Japan.

Gary Snyder’s poetry readings are exceptionally popular. All of the emphasis is upon the poetry itself and the readings are as plain and simple as his Japanese student’s uniform

GS: As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth. They go back to the upper Paleolithic: 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. My poems are about work, love, death and the quest for wisdom. What we have is the ground beneath our feet, our minds and bodies, the man and woman who bore us, the man or woman we live with, the children we have made and the friends we know. [from “Statement for the Paterson Society” (1961))]

[At approximately seventeen-minutes in – here – Gary Snyder begins reading] – First I’d like to read a couple of poems from my first book, Riprap(Riprap”, here in the West, means “ a cobble of stones laid on steep rock to make a trail for horses in mountains”)-  The two poems that I’m going to read from this book were written after I had been working for the Parks Service on a trial crew in the high country of  Yosemite National Park.   “Hay For the Horses”  – (”He had driven half the night/From far down San Joaquin…”…. “I sure would hate to do this all my life/and dammit that’s just what I’ve gone and done”) – and  “Above Pate Valley” – (“We finished clearing the last/Section of trail by noon…”…..” Pick, singlejack, and sack/ Of dynamite/Ten thousand years”)

[Snyder continues] 

This section [ from Mountains and Rivers Without Ends ] is called “The Market” (especially it refers to the old Crystal Palace market in San Francisco, the beautiful public market in Saigon), the public market in Khatmandu, Nepal, and the market along the Dashashwhamedh Ghat in Benares (Varanasi) – (“The Market (“Heart of the city/ down town/ the country side…” …. “I came to buy/ a few bananas by the Ganges/while waiting for my wife.”)   

[At twenty-six-and -three-quarter minutes in, Snyder concludes] – “Now the rest of the poems I’m going to read are all from an uncollected unpublished collection of poems which will be called The Back Country, and which will be dedicated to Kenneth Rexroth. These are all shorter poems of the last six years. This is called “A Cabin in Marin County”.  (“Marin-An”) – (“sun breaks over the eucalyptus/ grove below the wet pasture,/ water’s about hot,/ I sit in the open window….”…..”…..and thousands of cars driving men to work.”)

“We won’t be fighting in a thousand years from now, we won’t be fighting in fifty years from now, quite. I mean, the whole society is going some place else. I feel that this is… one of the most exciting works of poetry right now is to.. is to capture and make contact with those areas of the unconscious that belong to the whole American continent. the non-White world, the world of mythology and instuitive insight, that belongs with primitive cultures, and, ultimately, getting back in touch, not only with ourselves but, with the natural world, with nature, which we’ve been out of contact with so long (that) we’ve almost destroyed the planet.”

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