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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Gary Snyder’s reading draws large crowd to the Poetry Center

    The University of Arizona Poetry Center attracted the largest crowd in recent memory for their evening reading on Thursday with Gary Snyder. The entire seminar room was filled with spectators, including many people seated on the ground and around the perimeter. In addition, the retractable walls of the seminar room were opened up to the outdoor courtyard, which was also completely filled with people in chairs, on the steps and on the floor.

    Thursday’s reading was particularly special for the Poetry Center, so it’s no wonder so many people attended. This year, the Poetry Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary and this month, founder Ruth Stephan is the focus. In keeping with these themes, the Poetry Center featured award-winning essayist, lecturer, environmental activist and poet Gary Snyder.

    Back in the 1960s, Snyder was close friends with Stephan. In 1964, Snyder was one of the first speakers to give a reading at the Ruth Stephan Poetry Cottage, the center that preceded today’s award-winning facility.

    Snyder met Stephan while they were both studying Buddhism and Zen in Tokyo, Japan. Throughout his reading, Snyder reminisced about his times with Stephan and told many anecdotes from his long and notable life story. Although Snyder is most often associated with the Beat Generation of the 1970s, he shared poems from various times in his life — as early as the 1950s and as late as his most current book.

    Perhaps so many people are drawn to Gary Snyder because he writes about almost everything, and has experienced the cultures of many different places. His pieces discussed art, nature, family, life, science fiction, mortality and everything in between. He referenced mythology and stories from Japan, China, Native American cultures, Alaska and the Middle East.

    Altogether, Snyder showcased an inspiring collection of his work and left his mark on the Poetry Center once again. His reading drew many people to the Poetry Center for the first time and brought back long-time patrons who attended his readings nearly 50 years ago.

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