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Pulitzer Prize-winning poet returns to APSU to share his works

April 15, 2003

Austin Peay is familiar territory to Gary Snyder, internationally acclaimed poet, who returns to campus today as a special guest artist.

Snyder will read from his poetry at 8 p.m. in the ballroom of the University Center. A reception and book signing will follow. All are free and open to the public.

Dr. David Till, professor of English and editor of Zone 3, calls Snyders visit a return engagement of sorts, since Snyder last met with students and read his poetry at APSU in 1976.
April 15, 2003

Austin Peay is familiar territory to Gary Snyder, internationally acclaimed poet, who returns to campus today as a special guest artist.

Snyder will read from his poetry at 8 p.m. in the ballroom of the University Center. A reception and book signing will follow. All are free and open to the public.

Dr. David Till, professor of English and editor of “Zone 3,” calls Snyder's visit “a return engagement of sorts,” since Snyder last met with students and read his poetry at APSU in 1976.

“It was a wonderful occasion, a real satisfaction,” Till says. “And it's equally wonderful that we're all still herewell, a lot of us are anyway. Older now, so the coffee's a little darker, a richer brew. But it's a new generation of students, hearing the music for the first time.”

When Snyder visited APSU in 1976, he had just won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his book, “Turtle Island.”

Twenty years prior to winning the Pulitzer Prize, Snyder was a participant in the “famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco,” which Till says to some degree “launched” the Beat Generation of poets and writers.

“For all that, he always has been most profoundly a poet and essayist committed to ‘deep ecology,' to those issues that address our living together in balance on planet Earth,” Till says. “To this task, he has brought to bear his unique mix of patient good humor and Zen Buddhist/Native American wisdom.”

In 1997--more than 20 years after receiving the Pulitzer Prize--Snyder won both the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and the John Hay Award for Nature Writing.

Because it “cuts through pretensions and sentimentalities to small but important generosities,” one of Till's favorite poems by Snyder is “Changing Diapers:”

How intelligent he looks!
on his back
both feet caught in my one hand
his glance set sideways
on a giant poster of Geronimo
with a Sharp's repeating rifle by his knee.

I open, wipe, he doesn't even notice
nor do I.
Baby legs and knees
toes like little peas
little wrinkles, good-to-eat,
eyes bright, shiny ears,
chest swelling drawing air.

No trouble, friend,
you and me and Geronimo
are men.

For more information about the evening's events, telephone Till at 7865.