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Back on the Fire: Essays [NOOK Book]

Overview

This collection of essays by Gary Snyder, now in paperback, blazes with insight. In his most autobiographical writing to date, Snyder employs fire as a metaphor for the crucial moment when deeply held viewpoints yield to new experiences, and our spirits and minds broaden and mature. Snyder here writes and riffs on a wide range of topics, from our sense of place and a need to review forestry practices, to the writing life and Eastern thought. Surveying the current wisdom that fires are in some cases necessary for ...
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Back on the Fire: Essays

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Overview

This collection of essays by Gary Snyder, now in paperback, blazes with insight. In his most autobiographical writing to date, Snyder employs fire as a metaphor for the crucial moment when deeply held viewpoints yield to new experiences, and our spirits and minds broaden and mature. Snyder here writes and riffs on a wide range of topics, from our sense of place and a need to review forestry practices, to the writing life and Eastern thought. Surveying the current wisdom that fires are in some cases necessary for ecosystems of the wild, he contemplates the evolution of his view on the practice, while exploring its larger repercussions on our perceptions of nature and the great landscapes of the West. These pieces include recollections of his boyhood, his involvement with the literary community of the Bay Area, his travels to Japan, as well as his thoughts on American culture today. All maintain Snyder's reputation as an intellect to be reckoned with, while often revealing him at his most emotionally vulnerable. The final impression is holistic: We perceive not a collection of essays, but a cohesive presentation of Snyder's life and work expressed in his characteristically straightforward prose.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Poet and essayist Snyder, a Pulitzer and National Book Award winner, has been a committed environmentalist and student of East Asian thought for decades. For almost as long, he has lived in the Sierra Nevada, where he saw the changes in attitudes toward preserving forests. Any reader unfamiliar with these details of Snyder's life and outlook will be well acquainted with them by the end of this new collection of essays since he returns to them with numbing repetition, down to the very phrases used. While Snyder's goal is admirable-to alert readers to the need for a more balanced attitude toward land and forest preservation-he would have been more effective had he reworked his thoughts into a single essay. There are some lovely nuggets, such as a section about the Maidu Coyote myth and an elegiac piece about Allen Ginsberg's death. But most of this slim volume is dedicated to evaluating prescribed burns as a way of saving California's ecological environment. It's hard to argue with his conclusions-that we must learn to respect nature and live within it rather than just exploit it-but Snyder's writing betrays a level of self-satisfaction with his own enlightened viewpoint that may put readers off from thinking seriously about the subject. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

This essay collection by Pulitzer Prize winner Snyder (A Place in Space) contains the latest thoughts of a great poet with a lifelong devotion to the world, humanity, and literature. Snyder discusses his ideas of nature as process, energy exchange, and wilderness and how people should relate to the world, to deep history, and to each other from many different approaches. The focus of his interests is the Pacific Rim area, from the western United States to China and Japan. Snyder's personal and academic lives—he grew up in the West and has homesteaded in the Sierra Nevada since 1970—are used as touchstones of knowledge and enlightenment. Writers, nature, the myths of the Japanese and Native Americans, government fire policy, animals, plants, and language are all discussed and interwoven. Some ideas and thoughts Snyder had as a young man have changed throughout the years, which he interprets as part of the joyous nature of life. Poets Allen Ginsberg and Philip Whalen are briefly bid farewell. Snyder's visit to his great-grandmother's grave is especially wonderful, and the memorial statement to his wife on the last page is beautiful. Perfect reading for our troubled times; highly recommended.
—Gene Shaw Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582439723
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,044,176
  • File size: 217 KB

Meet the Author

Gary Snyder is the author of sixteen collections of poetry and prose. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and a finalist for the National Book Award in 1992 and 2005, he has been awarded the Bollinger Poetry Prize, the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2004 Japanese Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Grand Prize. He has lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada since 1970.
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Table of Contents


Part 1
Fires, Floods, and Following the Dao     3
The Ark of the Sierra     9
Migration/Immigration: Wandering South and North, Erasing Borders, Coming to Live on Turtle Island     17
Ecology, Literature, and the New World Disorder: Gathered on Okinawa     21
Thinking Toward the Thousand-Year Forest Plan     37
The Mountain Spirit's True [No] Nature     43
The Path to Matsuyama     51
Writers and the War Against Nature     61
Entering the Fiftieth Millennium     73
Lifetimes with Fire     81
Part 2
With Wild Surmise     95
Sustainability Means Winning Hearts and Minds     97
"Can Poetry Change the World?"     99
Three Way Tavern     103
The Will of Wild Wild Women     107
Coyote Makes Things Hard     111
Shell Game     117
"The Way of Poisons"     121
Regarding "Smokey the Bear Sutra"     123
On the Problems Lurking in the Phrase "Before the Wilderness"     129
Allen Ginsberg Crosses Over     133
Highest and Driest     137
Afterword to a New Edition of Riprap     141
The Cottonwoods     145
Harriet Callicotte's Stone inKansas     149
Empty Shells     155
Grown in America     159
Acknowledgments     163
Publications Record     165
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