Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Gary Snyder, the Thoreau of the Beats

It is the birthday of poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder (1930), who became associated with the Beat generation of San Francisco in the 1950s and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975 for his poetry collection Turtle Island. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti called him the Thoreau of the Beat Generation. He is described as the poet laureate of deep ecology. Writer Jack Kerouac was inspired by Snyder's dedication to backcountry living to make Snyder the main character in The Dharma Bums (1958). Snyder studied Japanese and Chinese culture, Buddhism, rural life, naturism, and Native American culture. He traveled extensively in Japan and China. He is 83 years old and lives on a hundred acres in the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California. "Nature is not a place to visit," he told an interviewer from the London Review of Books last year, "It is home."

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