Flowpoetry: Gary Snyder, Issue #17
“This poem is about the time I went to see the American poet Gary Snyder read his poetry. Snyder’s work and life have had a great influence on me from the time years ago when I read about him as Japhy Ryder in Jack Kerouac’s book The Dharma Bums. That book not only sparked a six-year backpack journey to Asia for me but also invigorated my interest and subsequent graduate studies in Zen Buddhism and Japanese and Chinese art and literature. So getting a chance to see Snyder in real life was something I had also hoped for. Great teachers and poets do much through non-action and non-verbal communication. I remember the air in the room as being filled with expectation and the audience being at once awed and at ease with the poet. Zen teaches a very pragmatic approach to moment by moment life and Snyder embodied that in ways that were clear if one knew how to look. I’m often asked about the last few lines of this poem and so I will offer a brief explanation. As a young man ‘drunk’ on Buddhism at that time, I was caught up in the colors and quest for some sort of “enlightenment”. Snyder defused that continually through his poems and presence. It was not about something “out there” and ephemeral, but about nature in the here and now. The rocks, the streams, the mountains, the pathways. At one point he told a story about walking the back-country trails of California and I remember thinking, ‘Ahhh…now he will tell us how his walks have lead to spiritual realizations and vast vistas of wisdom and creativity.’ But no, his story was about how one had to be careful for bears and how the mosquitoes could be so fierce. And this is it, when one is walking through the woods it is important to keep your wits about you and your head in the moment. So, much respect for one of the greatest poets of our time and a little poem of mine as a reminder to keep your eyes open especially when one’s head is ringing like a wind-chime.”
Enjoy Adam’s latest installment, “Gary Snyder.”
Having bridged the gap between poetry and music, Flowpoetry’s progressive and chill approach to spoken word jam transcends musical boundaries and interlaces shared storytelling and poetic vibration into a communal and collective consciousness that unifies the ancient and future as one. With over 950 shows in the USA with bands and as a solo poet, Flowpoetry has been honored as a finalist for the MNSWA “Urban Griot” International/National Performer of the year alongside other poets such as Leonard Cohen and Saul Williams. In 2014, Flowpoetry was voted as one of Madison Magazine’s Best Spoken Word/Poetry Performers. He is a three-time finalist for Best Artist in the Annual Madison WI Area Music Awards.
He has performed with such notables as Hanah Jon Taylor (Chicago’s Artists For The Advancement of Creative Music) and Vincent Davis (Roscoe Mitchell Quartet) and Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown’s Original Funky Drummer). He has opened shows for The Steve Kimock Band, Cornmeal, Roster McCabe, Buck 65, Claude Coleman, Jr of Ween, Greg Ginn and This Must Be The Band. He has also appeared on festival billings with The Jerry Garcia Band and Tuobab Krewe. Learn more about his work here.