Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gary Snyder & Allen Ginsberg:
Selected Letters

Snyder and Ginsberg, Walking Not Talking

A spring night in Shokoku-ji
Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.
Gary Snyder

Allen Ginsberg - Father Death Blues

For those interested in all things Beat, a little something to brighten up a day: The Selected Letters of Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, as reviewed by Jeff Baker at The Oregonian.

Here's the publisher Counterpoint's blurb:

One of the central relationships in the Beat scene was the long-lasting friendship of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. Ginsberg ventured west in 1956 and was introduced to Snyder by Kenneth Rexroth, a mentor to the Beats and the man who knew everyone. Snyder, a graduate student in the department of East Asian languages at the University of California, was living in a tiny cottage in Berkeley, sitting zazen, making tea, and writing poems. He had already spent some time as a merchant mariner and as a solitary fire lookout in the Cascades. Ginsberg introduced Snyder to the East Coast Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac, while Snyder himself became the model for the serious poet that Ginsberg so wanted to become. Snyder encouraged Ginsberg to explore the beauty of the West Coast and, even more lastingly, introduced Ginsberg to Buddhism, the subject of so many long letter exchanges between them. Beginning in 1956 and continuing through 1991, the two men exchanged more than 850 letters. Bill Morgan, Ginsberg's biographer and an important editor of his papers, has selected the most significant correspondence from this long friendship. The letters themselves paint the biographical and poetic portraits of two of America's most important--and most fascinating--poets. Robert Hass's insightful introduction discusses the lives of these two major poets and their enriching and moving relationship.

As Snyder more succinctly observed of their relationship: "I made him walk more, he made me talk more."

Yes, many an old fart's holiday list is now complete.



Ed Baker said...

OLDE PHARTZ! geezee...

not many of us letter-writers yet around... the ones who "clicked" away merrily

awaiting the "ding" at the end of the line so's we cld ignore it and "invent" 'the run-on-line'

now hardly any boddhi knows what a ribbon is, much less how to change one and even more much less, where to buy one !

and how to "save" copy of letter typed/composed (use carbon paper)

I SUSPECT (and I betcha that neat little poem is pointed at Joanne Kyger try her

The Japan and India Journals 1960-1964

and, I think Will Petersen was "key" to

the Kyoto "scene" prior to The Beats making their brief visit...

I cld say more (see Restoration Letters on my site)


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, yes, indeed, I include the merry "we" in old farts ... issue #163 of Lillie has a poem about Joanne Kyger by Diane di Prima ... the poem is the second of a series of Robin poems Snyder wrote:

Four Poems for Robin by Gary Snyder.


Charles Gramlich said...

The beats represent a a group that I've barely sampled. So much more to read.

Ed Baker said...

best not to join any group as you just might become what you/they pretend to be .. Little-Tiny Grouppies

(which reminds me of that song "Short People"


as I so often say:

'when you get to The fork in the road ... TAKE IT!'

The Beats now BIG BUSINESS they even have entire universities devoted to "studying" and imitating them...

there was (and is) as you suggest so much MORE going on

than the endless drivvelle on the blogging network though here (and there) are (little read) exceptions

Lisa said...

Hi Don, Thanks for bringing this collection of letters to my attention. While I haven't read much beat poetry, last year something made me buy "family business: selected letters between a father and son" - letters between Allen and his father. I was mesmerized. I wrote several blog posts about my experiences in reading their letters, what I learned from them, etc. The book was a good read. Because I practice Zen and Buddhism in my own way, I'd like to seek out this book.

Again -- always some gem offered me here.

peace and gratitude.

Greg Schwartz said...

that looks like a cool book.

Princess Haiku said...

Interesting post. I see that you have a trove of archives worth prowling. Will visit during insomniac hours when I do most of my reading.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles, I think you would be interested in Kerouac's haiku, just a guess on my part, but there is something about it that calls to mind your style in Wanting the Mouth of a Lover.


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, a little read, yes, indeed, but hopefully enjoyed somewhat ...

Lisa, glad to connect you up to these letters. I have the letters between Ginsberg father and son and haven't gotten to them yet, along with a thousand other volumes. Very glad to hear reading them was a good experience.

Princess H ... enjoying your blog. Your thought on Olson - "Olson- who is one of the most brilliant of all American poets." interesting. There is a mag entitled "House Organ" (here's a review) that has been publishing an ongoing discussion of Olson, written by the editor, Kenneth Warren. It is way over my head but you might find it interesting.

Hope you are enjoying the poems ...


Ed Baker said...

Ken Warren also VERY BIG on CO's friend and neglected Gloucester poet, Vincent Ferrini..who recently died.

check out film POEM IN ACTION AND THEN V.F. Selected Poems The Whole Song

the K. Warren

U. Ill. Press, 2004/Fred Whitehead "thing"