Gary Snyder (b.1930) began his career in the 1950s as a noted member of the Beat Generation, though he has since explored a wide range of social and spiritual matters in both poetry and prose. Snyder’s work blends physical reality and precise observations of nature with inner insight received primarily through the practice of Zen Buddhism.
The material in this collection was part of the personal library of Snyder’s friend, the Buddhist scholar, Robert P. Jackson (1930-2014). A longtime resident of Marysville, California, Jackson was a frequent contributor to The American Buddhist. Most notably, he wrote the often-quoted article “Buddhism and the Beat Generation” (1957).
HAN SHAN: Translations by G.S. Snyder. Original typescript with a few holographic corrections, circa 1954. A significant work, including some of the earliest iterations of the Cold Mountain poems that would appear in Gary Snyder’s first book, Riprap (1959). After dropping out of graduate school in Indiana, Snyder enrolled at UC Berkeley to study Oriental Languages. As he later recalled, “I went back to work in a graduate seminar with Ch’en Shih-hsiang at a time when there were only two students in a graduate seminar with him – myself and a Chinese man. He asked me what I would like to do. I said I would like to do some Buddhist poems that possibly were in a vernacular, and he said, ‘Of course, Han Shan is the poet you should work with.’” Han Shan (or Hanshan, 9th century) was revived and revered by the Beat Generation, most notably in Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums (1958), which is dedicated to the Chinese Buddhist monk and poet. The novel prominently features a character based on Snyder, who was instrumental in Kerouac’s introduction of Buddhism, and includes translations from Han Shan which are close to Snyder’s published versions.  p. Bound with fasteners in a tan paper report cover, with holographic titles in Snyder’s hand on the front panel.
THE GREAT CLOD: China, Nature. Partial typescript, with a holographic title page: “The Great Clod / China, Nature / as of June 80 / in progress / G.S. / for Bob Jackson”. A series of essays on Asia’s ecological history, The Great Clod was a work in progress for nearly 40 years, prior to its publication by Counterpoint in 2016. Photomechanically reproduced on standard white stock. Pages 15-64 with two states of three pages, and a second gathering (“Hill Tribes”), numbered 52-59 and stapled. Unbound, the first portion shows extensive corrections. Housed in a manila envelope with Snyder’s Nevada City, California address.
Ring of Bone Zendo flyer, circa 1975. Photomechanically reproduced on one side of an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of white paper, with holographic annotations in Snyder’s hand. Founded by Gary Snyder in 1974, the Ring of Bone Zendo is a rural Buddhist community near Nevada City, California. This undated flyer features the group’s Seeds to Snow Calendar, with the date, time, and description of nine events. Snyder’s annotations indicate lectures by himself (on “Shodoka”) and fellow poet Philip Whalen (on “Genjokoan” of Shobogenzo). Light toning to the extremities, with a horizontal fold in the middle.
Audio recording of a 45-minute, March 5, 1982 interview about Zen practice with Gary Snyder and his wife Masa on KVMR, an independent radio station in Nevada City, California. Recorded on Side A of a Kmart audio cassette, with a handwritten description on the label. Housed in a plastic cassette case.
Autograph letter signed (ALS) by Gary Snyder to Robert and Beverly Jackson, dated April 2, 1982. Snyder mentions Hajime Nakamura’s Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples (1960), which Robert Jackson had loaned him, and Rick Fields’ How the Swans Came to the Lake (1981): “Have you seen Rick Fields book on US Buddhism? Quite a study – I learned a lot (of gossip).” There is also some detail concerning the construction of the Ring of Bone Zendo building in North San Juan, California. Handwritten on one side of a 5 ½” x 8 ½” sheet, apparently a recycled scrap with some unrelated schoolwork on the verso. Two horizontal creases from prior folding.
Holographic postcard from Gary Snyder to Robert Jackson, posted from Anchorage, Alaska in 1984. After referencing Tibetologist Alex Wayman’s recent visit to Berkeley, Snyder encourages Jackson to submit an article for the Buddhist-Peace Fellowship magazine. Handwritten on both sides of a 5 ½” x 3 ½” card, with Snyder’s Nevada City, California ink stamp as the return address. Item #72706