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For the full course of his remarkable career, Gary Snyder has continued his study of East Asian culture and philosophies. From the Ainu to the Mongols, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, from the landscapes of China to the backcountry of contemporary Japan, from the temples of Daitokoji to the Yellow River Valley, it is now clear how this work has influenced his poetry, his stance as an environmental and political activist, and his long practice of Zen. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Asia became a vocation for Snyder. While most American writers looked to the capitals of Europe for their inspiration, Snyder looked west to the East. American letters is profoundly indebted to this geographical choice.
Long rumored to exist, The Great Clod collects several published in The Coevolution Quarterly almost forty years ago when Snyder briefly described this work as The China Book,” and several others, the majority, never before published in any form. Summer in Hokkaido,” Wild in China,” Ink and Charcoal,” Wolf-Hair Brush,” these essays turn from being memoirs of travel to prolonged considerations of art, culture, natural history and religion. It is filled with Snyder’s remarkable insights and briskly beautiful descriptions.
Gary Snyder is the author of sixteen collections of poetry and prose. Since 1970 he has lived in the watershed of the South Yuba River in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and a finalist for the National Book Award in 1992, he has been awarded the Bollingen Poetry Prize and the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award.