Turtle Island – Gary Snyder (1974)

Turtle Island is a book of poems and essays written by Gary Snyder and published by New Directions in 1974. Within it, Snyder expresses his vision for humans to live in harmony with the earth and all its creatures. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975. ‘Turtle Island‘ is a name for the continent of North America used by many Native American tribes. By the late 1950s, Gary Snyder had established himself as one of the major American poets of his generation. He was associated with both the Beat Generation and the regional San Francisco Renaissance. He spent much of the 1960s traveling between California and Japan, where he studied Zen. In 1966, he met Masa Uehara while in Osaka. They married the following year and had their first child, Kai, in April 1968; by December, Snyder and his new family moved to California. His return coincided with the highest crest of 1960s counterculture, as well as the nascent environmental movement. He was received as an elder statesman by both the hippies and the environmentalists, and he became a public intellectual who gave public lectures, making television appearances, and publishing new writing. Many of the poems and essays in the book had been previously published. The essay ‘Four Changes’ first appeared in The Environmental Handbook, a collection published by David Brower and Friends of the Earth for the first Earth Day in 1970. ‘Four Changes’ was initially published anonymously with no copyright notice, and consequently it was widely reproduced. … Like Snyder’s poetry of the late 1960s, many of the poems found in Turtle Island are political in nature. However, with American military involvement in the Vietnam War coming to a close, Snyder’s attention had turned from matters of war and peace to environmental and ecological concerns. …”
Allen Ginsberg: Mind, Mouth and Page – (Gary Snyder)

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