And, of course, Snyder has always connected all of this to the poems and essays he continues to write. Back on the Fire ends with the aesthetic concerns that grow out of Snyder's effort to find the ethics demanded by the landscape. Even as he recognizes that he has often been fascinated by a complicated, even ornate kind of poetry, he writes eloquently about the force of directness and clarity: "The idea of a poetry of minimal surface texture, with its complexities hidden at the bottom of the pool, under the bank, a dark old lurking, no fancy flavor, is ancient. It is what is 'haunting' in the best of Scottish-English ballads, and is at the heart of the Chinese shi (lyric) aesthetic."
Gary Snyder reads from his poetry and his essays as part of a conference honoring Shaman Drum Bookshop owner Karl Pohrt at Rackham Auditorium on Thursday, March 6.
[Review published March 2008]