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Prepared by Alex Gildzen; Revised by Athena Salaba, January 30, 1995; Last Updated: October 2023
Inclusive Dates: 1955-1983
Extent: .5 cubic foot (1 half-size record storage box)
Physical Location: 11th floor
Biographical Note: Gary Snyder was born on May 8, 1930 in San Francisco, California, to Harold Alton and Lois (Willkie). He was raised in Washington and Oregon on small farms. Snyder held jobs as logger, seaman, fire-look-out and trail crew worker for the U.S. Forest Service. He received his degree in literature and anthropology from Reed College and did some graduate work in linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, where he pursued his interests in Asian thought. He served as a member of the Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley, for one year (1964). During the 1950's he became involved with the San Francisco Beat movement and later when he moved to Japan he bacame involved in Zen Buddhism. Both of these involvements have a characteristic influence on his poetry. In his writing we see an appreciation for the hard rural work, an influence of Eastern literature and philosophy, and an interest and commitment to poetry, society, and the natural world. Snyder received a number of honors and awards, among them a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry collection Turtle Island (1974). Among his poetry collections are Riprap (1959), Myths & Texts (1960), The Back Country (1967), Regarding Wave (1969), Turtle Island and Axe Handles (1983). Other notable works are Earth House Hold (1969), The Old Ways (1979) and The Real Work (1980).
Scope and Content: The collection includes manuscripts of individual poems, Snyder's poetry collection Myths & Texts and Peter Easy's work about Snyder's poetry. Mainly, it consists of Snyder's correspondence with Will Petersen and with Arthur & Kit Knight. In his letters to Petersen he discusses general matters, life in Japan, writing and publishing plans, reading tours, etc. His letters to Arthur & Kit Knight discuss Snyder's contributions to several publications and permissions to include his works in forthcoming publications.
Acquisition Information: Most of the material in this collection was purchased from Jim Lowell's Asphodel Bookshop. The Department began purchasing some of Gary Snyder's manuscript material in the early 1970s.
Related Materials: Special Collections and Archives holds an extensive collection of Snyder's published works, which are cataloged in the KentLINK library catalog. There are several letters from Snyder to James R. Lowell in Lowell's papers, also held in Special Collections and Archives.
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