Monday, March 4, 2024
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Gary Snyder, eco-poet
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Poet Gary Snyder has been described as the elder statesman of the natural world for his emphasis on the environment and nature. (Photo courtesy of Shoemaker Hoard Publishing)

St. Paul, Minn. — Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder's new collection, "Danger on Peaks," is the current selection of Talking Volumes, the community book club sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio, The Star Tribune and The Loft Literary Center.

Snyder thinks of himself as a "holistic" poet, and blends his interest in the environment, Zen Buddhism and nature into his work. Snyder is often described as the "laureate of deep ecology," and his image has even appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.

"Danger on Peaks" is a collection of 55 new poems and prose poems.

"Danger on Peaks" begins with the poet's first climb of Mount St. Helens on Aug. 13, 1945, and his learning on the morning after his descent about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. The poet visits Mount St. Helens again in 2000 to view the blast site of the 1980 eruption.

The book ends with poems for the Buddhas of Bamiyan Valley, who were attacked by the Taliban, and the World Trade Towers.

Snyder talked with Talking Volumes host Kerri Miller about his latest work. To listen to their interview, choose the audio link in the right column.


Flowers in the Night Sky

I thought, forest fires burning to the north!
yello nomex jacket thrown into the cab, hard-hat, boots,
I gunned the truck up the dirt-road scrambling,
and came out on a flat stretch with a view:
shimmering blue-green streamers and a red glow down the sky --
Stop. Storms on the sun. Solar winds going by

    (The night of the red aurora borealis:
    seen as far south as northern California, April 2001)

A Dent in a Bucket

Hammering a dent out of a bucket
       a woodpecker
         answers from the woods

She Knew All About Art

She knew all about art -- she was fragrant, soft,
I rode to her fine stone apartment, hid the bike in the hedge.
-- We met at an opening, her lover was brilliant and rich,
first we would talk, then drift into long gentle love.
We always made love in the dark. Thirty years older than me.

In the Santa Clarita Valley

Like skinny wildweed flowers sticking up
hexagonal "Denny's" sign
starry "Carl's"
loopy "McDonald's"
eight-petaled yellow "Shell"
blue-and-white "Mobil" with a big red "O"

growing in the asphalt riparian zone
by the soft roar of the flow
              of Interstate 5.

Falling from a Height, Holding Hands

What was that?
storms of flying glass
& billowing flames

a clear day to the far sky --

better than burning,
hold hands.

We wil be
two    peregrines   diving

all the way down