Gary Snyder celebrates his 89th birthday today. Happy Birthday Gary!
We feature today a guest posting from our friend (and Gary’s), Gary Lawless
“In 1973 I left Maine on my own for the first time, and hitch-hiked to California. I had written to my favorite poet, Gary Snyder, and asked if I could live with him, as his apprentice. When I look back on it now, I am amazed by my naïve asking to go and live with not only Gary, but his family, at their home in the California Sierras. I now marvel at his generosity, his kindness, his patience, and his devotion to passing along what he has learned. I think that he shares this with Allen Ginsberg, and that those aspects are not celebrated enough. For a teenager in Maine, and I suspect for many others, Gary offered many new paths to walk, to explore. From Basho to Jaime De Angulo, from Han Shan to Nanao Sakaki, from Kenji Miyazawa to Joanne Kyger and Lew Welch. Trails led to Native American poetry and myth, to Chinese and Japanese poetry, to Zen Buddhism, to walking and climbing and traveling, to the words ecology, bioregion, watershed. Through his poetry, essays, interviews, and readings Gary Snyder has explored the wild exterior and interior worlds, and brought word back. He has given many of us new ways of seeing the world, and of being in the world, new ways to walk, new paths to take. Our friend Nanao said that he wanted to hike the Milky Way. Gary’s poetry , his life work, make it possible to move from our own hearts out into the stars. In a recent interview in the New York Times Book Review, Gary says “I take it as a challenge to look for the storyteller of the planet.” He is still out there looking, creating, reporting back, and following his own advice:
Learn the flowers.