on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2015 23 Nov

Gary Snyder Talk

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off

MHQ: C’mon, Gary, you stopped in that bar, that alone had been kind of dangerous in those times. But, let’s  start at the beginning.


SNYDER: In the early 1970s, I had finally come back to live in the United States, and I had a family and a little place up in the Sierra Nevada. Friends called me to join in on the Black Mesa issue down in New Mexico.


MHQ: That’s when they were trying to build the huge energy complex at the Four Corners, right?


SNYDER: Exactly. Doing open-pit strip-mining on Navajo and Hopi land. There was a group called The Black Mesa Committee, and some of us went down there to see it firsthand and to think about what we could do in the way of writing about it and so forth. We had to pass through Farmington, which is right near the Four Corners plant and which is not a New Mexican town. It’s a Texan town full of Texan coal and oil people, and it was considered at that time a pretty heavy town to go through. So we went through it, and not only did we go through it, we stopped at a bar, which was maybe a mistake. Stopping was kind of bold.


MHQ: Nothing is a mistake that produces a poem like this. What do you mean when you say at the end of the poem, „I came back to myself, / To the real work, to / ‚What is to be done.‘ „


SNYDER: I’ve been working on that question ever since.


MHQ: That happens to poets. It takes a long time to discover what you meant.


SNYDER: Oh, I believe so, yes. If you’re honest. You might die without knowing, and that’s okay, too. Keats said that we must be open to confusion and darkness and doubt, without an irritable grasping after reason. He called that „negative capability.“ It’s part of what a poet has to be capable of. Actually, I brought out a volume of essays some years later called The Real Work explaining that question further, and what I would say in one sentence is that, for Americans, the real work is becoming native to North America.


MHQ: Meaning …


SNYDER: The real work is becoming native in your heart, coming to understand we really live here, that this is really the continent we’re on and that our loyalties are here, to these mountains and rivers, to these plant zones, to these creatures. The real work involves developing a loyalty that goes back before the formation of any nation state, back billions of years and thousands of years into the future. The real work is accepting citizenship in the continent itself.


MHQ: You got a nerve here, billions of years, thousands of years, backwards, forwards. finally, I do not have to grasp for reason.


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