Gary Snyder (b. 1930) is one of the most distinguished American poets, remarkable both for his long and productive career and for his equal contributions to literature and environmental thought. His childhood in the Pacific Northwest profoundly shaped his sensibility due to his contact with Native American culture and his early awareness of the destruction of the environment by corporations. Although he emerged from the San Francisco Renaissance with writers such as Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan, and William Everson, he became associated with the Beats due to his friendships with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who included a portrait of Snyder as Japhy Ryder in his novel The Dharma Bums. After graduating from Reed College, Snyder became deeply involved with Zen Buddhism, and he spent twelve years in Japan immersed in study.
Conversations with Gary Snyder collects interviews from 1961 to 2015 and charts his developing environmental philosophy and his wide-ranging interests in ecology, Buddhism, Native American studies, history, and mythology. The book also demonstrates the ways Snyder has returned throughout his career to key ideas such as the extended family, shamanism, poetics, visionary experience, and caring for the environment as well as his relationship to the Beat movement. Because the book contains interviews spanning more than fifty years, the reader witnesses how Snyder has evolved and grown both as a poet and philosopher of humanity's proper relationship to the cosmos while remaining committed to the issues that preoccupied him as a young man.