The Real Work: Interviews and Talks, 1964-1979

The Real Work: Interviews and Talks, 1964-1979

The Real Work: Interviews and Talks, 1964-1979

The Real Work: Interviews and Talks, 1964-1979

Synopsis

The Real Work is the second volume of Gary Snyder’s prose to be published by New Directions. Where his earlier Earth House Hold (1969) heralded the tribalism of the “coming revolution,” the interviews in The Real Work focus on the living out of that process in a particular place and time––the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California in the 1970s. The talks and interviews collected here range over fifteen years (1964-79) and encompass styles as different as those of the Berkeley Barb and The New York Quarterly. A “poetics of process” characterizes these exchanges, but in the words of editor Mclean, their chief attraction is “good, plain talk with a man who has a lively and very subtle mind and a wide range of experience and knowledge.

Excerpt

In 1969 Gary Snyder published a collection of journal excerpts, reviews, translations, and essays under the title Earth House Hold. the materials collected covered a fifteen-year period, spanning the years Snyder spent doing forest service lookout duty in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State (1952–53) to his marriage with Masa Uehara on Suwa-no-se Island in 1967.

Thematically and structurally the interviews and talks gathered in this volume complement and extend the positions taken in Earth House Hold. a line can be traced in the earlier prose collection from Snyder’s first statements on poetics in the “Lookout’s Journal” to the essay “Suwa-no-se Island and the Banyan Ashram,” celebrating a sense of community that has been lost all too long. a similar line can be followed in The Real Work, from Snyder’s comments on the complementary nature of inner and outer realities explored in his poetry to the talk “Poetry, Community, & Climax.” But whereas the relationship between poetry and community was only sketched out in the later essays of Earth House Hold, it becomes the focal point early in this collection, as poetry is seen more and more by Snyder to be a binding force in the fabric of community life.

Gary Snyder’s poetry has continued a tradition first pursued in late eighteenth-century Romantic thought and carried on in American literature most notably by Thoreau: a belief that the “outer and inner life correspond” and that poetry is “the . . .

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