This collection is made up of four sections: "Far West"-poems of the Western mountain country where, as a young man. Gary Snyder worked as a logger and forest ranger; "Far East"-poems written between 1956 and 1964 in Japan where he studied Zen at the monastery in Kyoto; "Kali"-poems inspired by a visit to India and his reading of Indian religious texts, particularly those of Shivaism and Tibetan Buddhism; and "Back"-poems done on his return to this country in 1964 which look again at our West with the eyes of India and Japan. The book concludes with a group of translations of the Japanese poet Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933), with whose work Snyder feels a close affinity. The title, The Back Country, has three major associations; wilderness. the "backward" countries, and the "back country" of the mind with its levels of being in the unconscious.
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(206mm x 134mm x 12mm)
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
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US Kirkus Review »
The "Back Country" in section 1 (Far West) of this fourth book of poetry is reminiscent of a Hemingway landscape of fishing camps, outdoor men, mountains, and physical exhilaration. But it is not nostalgia-haunted. Gary Snyder is a new kind of expatriate, and one whose ideas and poetry have, understandably, an enormous appeal for his contemporary world. He has travelled widely in Japan and India, studied Zen and other Far Eastern religions and cultures. Like many of today's travelling youth, he is "expatriate" not from his own country, but from industrial-suburban civilization, and even from protest. Whether he writes of American-Indian myths, logging camps, and love affairs, or of scenes, people and religions of Japan and India, his poetry has an astonishing physical reality, an awareness of all senses including the frankly sexual and the mystical. A reaffirmation of a back country of the spirit too rarely seen among poets and/or residents of various other exurbs. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Gary Snyder
Born in 1930 in San Francisco, Gary Snyder grew up in the rural Pacific Northwest. He graduated from Reed College in 1951 with degrees in anthropology and literature, and later, 1953-56, studied Japanese and Chinese civilization at Berkeley, returning there to teach in the English Department. Throughout these years, Gary Snyder worked at various outdoor jobs-as a seaman, as a lookout in Mt. Baker National Forest, as a choker setter for a logging company, on a trail crew at Yosemite National Park. These experiences are integrally reflected in such works as Riprap and Myths and Texts. As he has remarked, "I've come to realize that the rhythms of my poems follow the rhythm of the physical work I'm doing and the life I'm leading at any given time-which makes the music in my head which creates the line." After participating in the San Francisco revival, the beginning of the beat poetry movement, with Ginsberg, Whalen, Rexroth and McClure, Snyder quietly went off to Japan in 1955 where he stayed for eighteen months, living in a Zen monastery. In 1958, he joined the tanker "Sappa Creek" and traveled around the world. In early 1959 he again returned to Japan where, apart from six months in India, he studied Kyoto under Oda Sesso Roshi, the Zen master and Head Abbot of Daitoku-Ji. He has spent further time (1966-67) in Japan on a Bollingen research grant. In 1969 he received a Guggenheim grant and toured the Southwestern United States visiting various Indian tribes.