Celebrating 90 years of GARY SNYDER - Robert Yehling
A very, very happy 90th birthday to my friend, writing/teaching mentor, and favorite poet — Gary Snyder. I’ve read and studied his works ever since picking up “Turtle Island” in high school; no writer has influenced my career more. I will forever treasure the three years we spent as next door neighbors in the Sierra Nevada foothills, drinking tea, chopping wood, walking the land, talking about writing, ecology, and culture, and teaching writing in a meaningful, purposeful way to younger generations.
He’s been one of the famous San Francisco Renaissance writers (we just lost another, Michael McClure, on Wednesday), the model of character Japhy Ryder in Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums”, the staunchest defender of the Sierra since John Muir, author of 25 books, and a Pulitzer Prize winner (among countless awards) whose poems, essays and interviews have touched millions since the late 1950s. Celebrate well, Gary. You’re a treasure to everyone who values nature, the wild, self-sufficency, creative expression, and the well-purposed life of integrity.
By the late 1950s, Gary Snyder had established himself as one of the major American poets of his generation. He was associated with both the Beat Generation and the regional San Francisco Renaissance. He spent much of the 1960s traveling between California and Japan, where he studied Zen. In 1966, he met Masa Uehara while in Osaka. They married the following year and had their first child, Kai, in April 1968; by December, Snyder and his new family moved to California. His return coincided with the highest crest of 1960s counterculture, as well as the nascent environmental movement. He was received as an elder statesman by both the hippies and the environmentalists, and he became a public intellectual who gave public lectures, making television appearances, and publishing new writing.