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Honorary Curator Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder
Honorary Curator, 2010-2011

Special Announcement

                                                                                                               Photo of Gary Snyder by Giuseppe Moretti, 2005

Bill HigginsonThe American Haiku Archives advisory board is pleased to announce the appointment of Gary Snyder as the 2010–2011 honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento. This honor is in recognition of his longstanding influence on haiku poetry in North America, through his sharing of haiku with prominent Beat poets that in turn influenced a generation of poets and writers, and by maintaining a steadfast haiku consciousness in his own environmental poetry. Snyder’s long list of books of and about poetry demonstrate an attunement to nature and the seasons that have specifically inspired and influenced countless haiku poets. We are pleased to bestow this honor from the American Haiku Archives, which seeks to preserve and promote haiku and related poetry throughout the North American continent.

Gary Snyder, who Lawrence Ferlinghetti has referred to as “the Thoreau of the Beat Generation,” is a poet, author, scholar, cultural critic, and professor emeritus of the University of California at Davis. He was born in San Francisco in 1930. As a youth in the Pacific Northwest, he worked on the family farm and seasonally in the woods. He graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 1951. After graduate study in linguistics at Indiana University, he entered graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley in the department of East Asian languages. He studied Chinese poetry with Chen Shih-Hsiang and did his Han-shan translations then. In the Bay Area, Snyder associated with Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Philip Whalen, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and others who were part of the remarkable flowering of west coast poetry during the fifties. In 1956, he moved to Kyoto, Japan to study Zen Buddhism and East Asian culture. During his ten years in Japan, he travelled for six months through India and Nepal, visiting ashrams, shrines, and temples, together with Allen Ginsberg and Joanne Kyger. In 1969, he returned to North America. For four decades, he has lived in California’s northern Sierra Nevada. He has divided his time between environmental and cultural issues with a focus on the Sierra Nevada ecosystem, and teaching at the university with a focus on creative writing, ethnopoetics, and bioregional praxis. He has travelled widely and has an ongoing engagement with innovative cultural movements in East Asia and Europe. His books have been translated into at least ten languages. Snyder has served on the California Arts Council, been a Guggenheim Fellow, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Turtle Island won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975, and his book of selected poems, No Nature, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1992. Mountains and Rivers Without End (a book-length poem) won the Bollingen Prize for poetry in 1997. His most recent poetry book, Danger on Peaks, contains haiku, as do occasional earlier books, such as The Back Country. In 2004, he was awarded the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Grand Prize in Matsuyama, Japan.

The American Haiku Archives, which includes the Haiku Society of America archives, is the largest public collection of haiku materials outside Japan. Each year since the archives were established on July 12, 1996, the AHA advisory board, currently chaired together by Garry Gay and Randy Brooks, appoints a new honorary curator (an idea suggested by the former California state librarian, Dr. Kevin Starr). Past curators, in order starting from the first year, have been Elizabeth Searle Lamb, Jerry Kilbride, Cor van den Heuvel, Robert Spiess, Lorraine Ellis Harr, Leroy Kanterman, William J. Higginson, Makoto Ueda, Francine Porad, Hiroaki Sato, H. F. Noyes, George Swede, and Stephen Addiss.

—Michael Dylan Welch

Selected Books by Gary Snyder


Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems. 1959. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009.

Myths and Texts. 1960. New York: New Directions, 1978.

The Back Country. New York: New Directions, 1968.

Regarding Wave. New York: New Directions, 1970.

Turtle Island. New York: New Directions, 1974. Pulitzer Prize.

Axe Handles. 1983. Emeryville, Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005.

Left Out in the Rain. 1986. Emeryville, Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005.

No Nature: New and Selected Poems. New York: Pantheon, 1992.

Mountains and Rivers Without End. 1996. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008. Bollingen Prize.

Danger on Peaks. 2004. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008.


Earth House Hold. New York: New Directions, 1969.

He Who Hunted Birds in His Father’s Village. “The Dimensions of a Haida Myth” 1979. Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007.

The Real Work: Interviews and Talks. New York: New Directions, 1980.

Passage Through India. 1984. Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007.

The Practice of the Wild. 1990. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2007.

A Place in Space. 1995. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2007.

The High Sierra of California. Berkeley, Heyday Press. 2002. (prints by Tom Killion; backpacking journals by Gary Snyder)

Tamalpais Walking. Berkeley, Heyday, 2009. (prints and prose by Tom Killion; poems and prose by Gary Snyder)

Back on the Fire. Counterpoint, 2007.

Anthologies of Prose, Poetry, Letters, and Translations

The Gary Snyder Reader. Washington, DC: Counterpoint Press, 1999.

Look Out: A Selection of Writings. New York: New Directions, 2002.

Bill Morgan, ed. The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008.

Selected Poems by Gary Snyder

After weeks of watching the roof leak
I fixed it tonight
by moving a single board

          —from “Hitch Haiku” in The Back Country, 1967

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

In a swarm of yellowjackets
a squirrel drinks water
feet in the cool clay, head way down

               Nap on a granite slab
half in shade, you can never hear enough
          sound of           wind in the pines

Catching grasshoppers for bait
attaching them live to the hook
             —I get used to it

     a certain poet, needling
Allen Ginsberg by the campfire
“How come they all love you?”

                    Clumsy at first
my legs, feet, and eye      learn again to leap
        skip through the jumbled rocks

Tired, quit climbing at a small pond
       made camp, slept on a slab
               til the moon rose

          Warm nights,
 the lee of twisty pines—
high jets crossing the stars

          —from Danger on Peaks, 2004





          (the Tokugawa Gorge)


“The Path to Matsuyama” essay by Gary Snyder

“Hitch Haiku,” Other Haiku, and Talks on Haiku

A Review of Danger on Peaks by Jerry Kilbride

“High Peak Haikus” essay on Snyder by James Campbell

Gary Snyder Wiki Page

Poetry Foundation Biography (with sample poems)

WorldCat Catalog Bibliographic Listing

“The Wild Mind of Gary Snyder” essay by Trevor Carolan

“Writers and the War Against Nature” essay by Gary Snyder

Nevada County Television Video Interview (61 minutes)

Western Writers Series biography of Snyder by Bert Almon

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