Gary Snyder

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Gary Snyder, 2007

Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is an American poet (originally, often associated with the Beat Generation), essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.


  • 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. I try to hold both history and wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.
    • "Statement for the Paterson Society" (1961), as quoted in David Kherdian, Six Poets of the San Francisco Renaissance: Portraits and Checklists (1967), p. 52. Snyder repeated the first part of this quote (up to "… common work of the tribe.") in the introduction to the revised edition of Gary Snyder, Myths & Texts (1978), p. viii.
  • I never did know exactly what was meant by the term "The Beats," but let's say that the original meeting, association, comradeship of Allen Ginsberg, myself, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Philip Whalen, who's not here, Lew Welch, who's dead, Gregory Corso, for me, to a somewhat lesser extent (I never knew Gregory as well as the others) did embody a criticism and a vision which we shared in various ways, and then went our own ways for many years.
    • The Beat Vision (1974)
  • Better, the perfect, easy discipline of the swallows dip and swoop, without east or west.
    • On open form poetry in "Some Yips & Barks in the Dark" in Naked Poetry : Recent American Poetry in Open Forms (1976) edited by Stephen Berg
  • If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
    gets tossed in jail on a vagrancy rap, may I
    not attain highest perfect enlightenment.
    • Burning, from No Nature; New and Selected Poems (1992)
  • I recalled when I worked in the woods
    and the bars of Madras, Oregon.
    That short-haired joy and roughness—
    America—your stupidity.
    I could almost love you again.
    • I Went into the Maverick Bar, from No Nature; New and Selected Poems (1992)

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