Gary Snyder


Everything in this next poem is all true.  Almost everything.




Reads "The Call of the Wild," Part I




Reads "The Call of the Wild," Part II




Reads "The Call of the Wild," Part III




Reads "Source"


Gary Snyder


Introduces “Charms”

In the poem "Charms," which is dedicated to Michael McClure, who has more than any other living poet, or person even that I know, has gone farther than anyone else, I think, into becoming one with, in understanding, in penetrating, in perceiving the consciousness of other beings.


Gary Snyder


Reads "Charms"




Loud applause follows this reading.


Gary Snyder


I want to read one little poem that kind of, that I just wrote on the plane the other day.  Flying in here yesterday I wrote this.  And then we'll take a break.  But this belongs, really, with these poems.




Reads "How did a great red-tailed Hawk come to lie on the shoulder of Interstate 5"


Gary Snyder


Okay, let's take a break.  [Applause]


Audience Member 1


[Voice off-mike, crowd noise in background] Do you remember getting tiny toys for your children from San Francisco?  There was a small book that I saw in the States, folded out in a certain, section-by-section, parts of the earth kinda, growing larger and larger and larger...


Gary Snyder


I haven't seen it.


Audience Member 1


No, I's sort of, um, anti-war toys


Gary Snyder


Sounds nice.  Yeah.  Some place in San Francisco you can get it?


Audience Member 1


Um, I don't know, it was from a certain, a certain group of people, and I don't remember their names.  It was beautiful.  Nice gift to give little kids.


Gary Snyder


I shall watch for it when I go there again.  Thank you.


Audience Member 1


Okay.  You bet.  [Inaudible]


Gary Snyder


Okay [Laughs.]


Audience Member 2


Man you're incredible.  You're so good.  I really dig your stuff.


Gary Snyder


[Laughs] Thank you.


Audience Member 2


I really dig it, will you come for a drink with me later?  With me and my friends?


Gary Snyder


I gotta go some place later.


Audience Member 2


You sure?


Gary Snyder


Yeah.  I mean, like I...they got something set up for me.


Audience Member 2


I don't, I don't know, I really dig that, I really dig that [inaudible]  I just came in, I thought your stuff was so incredible....Your stuff, the way you bring it across to people!


Gary Snyder


Well, that's what I try to do.


Audience Member 2


Have you written a book?


Gary Snyder


I've written a lot of books. [Laughs]


Audience Member 2


No no no, no really, no really, I don't know too much about...Gary Snyder, you know?


Gary Snyder


Well, you'd probably find, I don't know, because I'm coming here, because of my being here now, they've probably got some of my books in the bookstore, if you want to go look.  [Laughs]


Audience Member 2


See I'm writing this play right now, you know?  I'm trying to express myself and it's's really strange--[Cut]




Audible edit made to tape; recording continues presumably following the session break; unknown interval elapsed.


Gary Snyder


Well, there has been a great deal of opposition to nuclear energy, and nuclear power-generating stations, in the United States so effective in some areas that a lot of generating plants have been blocked or slowed down in their construction.  And I think that the United States government is about to launch on an enormous effort to calm the public and to lull it into accepting massive developments of nuclear energy generating centers, fast-breeder and later, perhaps, fusion.   Now I myself would have no objection to such a thing if I could be convinced that it was safe, both in the long term and the short term, and although it might be conceivably safe in the short term, I can see no way in which it would be safe in the long run, because nuclear wastes accumulated over, say, several centuries, as they might be, or more, in increasing quantities around the globe, are going to out eventually, and even though you can say, well, we're putting it off for five hundred thousand years, five hundred thousand years is not a very long time.  And if we are feeding a wasteful, industrial, technological, consumer society for a few more centuries, buying it a few more centuries of life, at the expense of all future biological health on the planet, it's obviously not worth it.  The Amchitka test, which is possibly interested in such things as what uses very large explosions would have in releasing oil from oil-bearing shale or something like that, I think the U.S. administration is going ahead with this test in the face of all this criticism, deliberately, as a deliberate and very intelligent gamble.  The chances are that nothing will happen.  When nothing happens, then they will be able to say, "All you people were hysterical.  You see?  Nothing happened."  And that will buy them a lot of time and a lot of credibility to proceed strongly and forcibly with more nuclear testing and more nuclear power generation development.  And the conservationists, perhaps, have in a way, played into their hands, by making such a big issue out of it, so that they will be left holding an empty bag if nothing happens.  If something does happen, then the administration can say, "You're right, we were wrong," and Nixon perhaps forfeits the next election.  That's all.  Okay.


Gary Snyder

Introduces “Mountains and Rivers Without End”


"Mountains and Rivers Without End" is a poem that I've been working on, it's a long poem, a long series of inter-connected long poems that I've been working on for some years.  I'm going to read several sections from that tonight. Including one or two that are very recent, in fact these are all pretty recent.  "Mountains and Rivers without End."  The title of the poem comes from a Yuan Dynasty Chinese scroll, that unfolds sideways and is thirty-five feet long.  By way of introduction, a little poem called "The Rabbit."  There are many sections to this, I'm only going to read [counts under breath.]..six tonight.




Reads "The Rabbit"


Gary Snyder


"The California Water Plan."  The state of California at the moment is engaged in a large, incredibly wasteful, incredibly stupid, illegal, even by their own terms, water plan project, which if they're lucky, will salinate the Sacramento Valley and make agriculture permanently impossible.  I was up in the Minarets in the Sierra last summer, thinking about the California Water Plan, and I perceived something of what the true California Water Plan was.  So I wrote this down.  It refers to an obscure little Buddhist god called Fudo, or Achala, who is my particular guardian, my persona guardian and my personal teacher, and, so I use, I refer to him, in several poems.  The other two poems in which I refer to him actually are a piece called "Smokey the Bear Sutra," and another piece called "Spel Against Demons."  This is the final, actually, this is the third and final poem in the trilogy of Fudo poems.  Also.  But you'll find all about Fudo in this poem, it'll drive you crazy.




Reads "The California Water Plan"


Gary Snyder


"Kumarajiva's Mother."  Now, the rest of these poems that I'm going to read this evening are cutting back and forth between ancient India and ancient North America.  I--living as I do and where I have lived all my life, we face the Pacific.  And, the American Indian came from Asia, or vice versa, the Asians came from North America.  I mean I know a Shoshone who says that.  He says, "We've always been here, those Asians came from here." [Laughter.]  "What do you mean we came from someplace else, that's some white anthropologist theory."  [Laughs]  "Kumarajiva's Mother."  Kumarajiva was a great Buddhist monk-scholar-translator, who was kidnapped by the Chinese from Central Asia, by force, and carried off to China where he was made to translate Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Chinese, and he stayed there the rest of his life, with a crew of about eighty Chinese assistants, day and night, translating sutras.  He did a lot of translation.  He also got in trouble, because he liked girls, and on one occasion, because he actually had mistresses apparently, he ate a bowl of needles, like you sew with needles, in front of an assembly of all the monks and assistants in Peking, or no it wasn't Peking in those days, it was Chang'an, all of the monks and assistants in the capital, Chang'an, and then he said, "When you boys can eat needles, you can have girlfriends too." [Laughter]  But this poem is about his mother.  And I really, I mean I could explain to you why I wrote this poem but it isn't really worth explaining, I'll just read it.  It has to do partly with the fact that my mother has freckles.  And I was trying to figure out at this time, when I wrote this, I was trying to figure out whatever happened to women in Buddhism?  Like something happened to 'em.  They got lost.  For a long time, anyway.




Reads "Kumarajiva's Mother"






Gary Snyder at SGWU, 1971, Part 3

Catalog numberI006-11-106.3
NotesPerhaps before November 11th, as newspaper articles about the reading appear on November 12.
Sound qualityVery good throughout entire first CD, up to 00:30:59 of second CD, at which point sound quality and volume diminish noticeably. Audience members’ questions off-mike during session break (between 00:10:29 and 00:12:21 of second CD) are soft and at points inaudible. Snyder’s miked voice remains clear and loud.
SpeakersGary Snyder, Audience member 1 (unknown), Audience Member 2 (unknown)

00:02- Gary Snyder introduces “The Call of the Wild”.

00:17- Reads “The Call of the Wild”, Part I.

00:32- Reads “The Call of the Wild”, Part II.

01:52- Reads “The Call of the Wild”, Part III.

04:11- Reads “Source”.

05:40- Introduces “Charms”.

06:15- Reads “Charms”.

08:01- Introduces “The Dead by the Side of the Road”

08:15- Reads “The Dead by the Side of the Road”.

09:55- Break is taken, audience member #1 asks question.

11:26- Audience member #2 asks question (part is cut).

12:21- Gary Snyder speaks about opposition to nuclear energy.

15:25- Introduces “Mountains and Rivers Without End” and “The Rabbit”.

16:27- Reads “The Rabbit”.

18:04- Introduces “The California Water Plan”.

19:48- Reads “The California Water Plan”.

25:34- Introduces “Kumarajiva’s Mother”.

28:22- Reads “Kumarajiva’s Mother”.