Thursday, April 05, 2007

There was a fascinating book of essays and reminiscences about Snyder by people as various as Allen Ginsberg, Dave Foreman, Peter Coyote and Paul Winter, published in 1991 called Gary Snyder: Dimensions of a Life (edited by Jon Halper.) The cover illustration was from a painting by Robert Davidson, especially appropriate because he is Haida, and Snyder’s college thesis was about a Haida myth (later published by Grey Fox Press as He Who Hunted in His Father’s Village.) I was in Davidson studio outside Vancouver a few years later, for a story on him published in Smithsonian Magazine, and I saw a copy of “Dimensions” there. I mentioned it, and Davidson spoke about it as if it was a volume of memorial tributes. I told him that Snyder was still very much alive. “I mourned for nothing,” Davidson said dryly, and grinned.

More than a decade later, we all continue to benefit from Snyder’s long experience, his very particular and exacting journey that has such effect and application for the larger us. This book is for our time and place, especially for those who have been on parallel journeys. But everyone can delight in this good writing’s main result, which is good reading…in evocations of places distant and near, of times gone by, and the naming of things in their moment and place—which of course in the end all turn out to be constituents of the same moment, which is now.

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