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Practice of the Wild Paperback – September, 1990

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A primer, an etiquette, a book of instruction, Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild is an exquisite, far-sighted articulation of what freedom, wildness, goodness, and grace mean, using the lessons of the planet to teach us how to live." -- Gretel Ehrlich

"Contemplating Gary Snyder's depth of journey into nature here, I think of what D.H. Lawrence said of Whitman: he's camped out alone, way beyond everybody. But it's looking like where Snyder is, would be a wise bet for all of us. He makes a good trail in this book, laid out expertly and fun to walk on." -- Thomas J. Lyon

"Gary Snyder's deep hope-that someday we might all be native Americans, at home in our grand place-is the only hope we have. This is an exquisite book, and a hard one. Read it-and then live it, as best as you can." -- Bill McKibben

"I have always found it difficult to imagine this century without the life and work of Gary Snyder. After reading this collection of essays, I now find it impossible." -- Wes Jackson

"What thoughtful beauty! How skillfully Gary Snyder interfuses the practical knowledge of an animal sense with story, language, and song. True teachers in America are now an endangered species. I learn so much from this good man's perception, humor, discipline, and love for this world. I am honored to praise this book." -- James Hillman

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder is the author of many volumes of poetry and essays, including Left Out in the Rain, Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems, Mountains and Rivers without End, and The Practice of the Wild. He teaches literature and wilderness thought at the University of California at Davis and lives with his family on the San Juan Ridge in the Sierra foothills.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press (September 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865474540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865474543
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When asked to recommend one book for young people, writer Jim Harrison picked "The Practice of the Wild" for its poetic sanity. I read Snyder's unpretentious collection while commuting on the train every morning one summer into downtown Chicago. The epiphanies came fast and furious as I sped through the city's West Side. The wisdom of Snyder's thinking is that he doesn't blindly differentiate between the "human world" and "wilderness"--people bad, nature good--but helps us see the beauty in everything. Like his poetry, Snyder's prose is funny and illuminating, capturing the rough texture of the world. "The Practice of the Wild" is a treasure.
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Format: Paperback
Snyder's "The Practice of the Wild" is an exciting challenge to all of us to reconnect through myth, song, stories, culture, to the places we live and take for granted. It is accessible, fun, and enlightening. Snyder questions basic assumptions that we have, and examines the idea that listening to the land and its spirits will help us develop a new ethic. "It is appropriate to feel loyalty to a given glacier; it is advisable to investigate the whole water cycle; and it is rare and marvelous to know that glaciers do not always flow and that mountains are always walking." Tying together science, politics, and poetry, Snyder has asked each of us to discover what it is about our self that yearns to be whole, and points out that this wholeness can come through the wild.
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Format: Paperback
In much the same way as other reviewers I found Gary Snyder's book "Practice of the Wild" a very enjoyable read, I was originally pointed to it through the amazing work of Jack Turner's "The Abstract Wild" where he refered to it. Although nowhere near as intense or so purely full of power as Turner's book it is fluid and poetic. One of the first things that strikes you is Snyder's astonishing grasp of just about anything, his knowledge of foreign languages is acute, the width of understanding boggles the mind. It must also be remembered that he spent some years in Japan studying as a Zen monk, this would of course have introduced him to Japanese and through it Chinese characters, poetry etc. Snyder seems a remarkable man, this book as well as illuminating the human condition and its need for true wildness, not in the ordinary sense of the term but as native peoples perceive it or rather live it, is a kind of autobiography, maybe I should say a telling of the story of Snyder himself. You become intimately connected to his life, which is really quite incredible, the sort of life where he could no longer say in old age that "I never did what I wanted to", Snyder has really lived, a lumberjack, a monk, an anthropologist, poet etc etc.
The book is interspersed with scientific detail of the living world and then up comes a very poetic passage somehow interconnected without one feeling it is incoherent as he slips from poetic to hard science. What a life he has lived, what experience that simply cannot be ignored, "The Practice of the Wild" is written by someone who must be heard, whose message is human in every way, an ecologist, conservationist, logger, rancher.
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Format: Paperback
The clarity and insight of Snyder's poems inspires my writing. Snyder is one of those souls respected across world religions. He is Buddhist, yet there is a primal awe of the natural world in his writing that speaks deeply to a person like me who sees the wilderness as a sanctuary and thin place for the divine.
-Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity’s Mystic Roots)
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I first read words by Gary Snyder as a student more than 20 years ago. "Learn the flowers". In those days I didn't pay much attention to birds, leaves, flowers, animals. But something struck me about those words. And I also read the words: "Myths and texts, burning". For some reason these words made me want to cry. Then I went on with the next 20 years. But those words remained, quietly, surfacing from time to time. Eventually, the words called me in. I was paying attention to flowers, myths, texts, burning. This book of essays shows us how Snyder pays attention to where he is, which is in nature and of nature. Snyder argues that language is biological, made of "nerves and needs" an innate upwelling and pattern, just like the other patterned phenomena of nature. It's not fixed. He uses language beautifully to help us see the nature that we're a part of. Once we've seen it - once we've learned it - we'll want to keep it alive.
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Format: Paperback
In this collection of nine essays, Snyder unfolds a bioregional vision of how people can live in communities in tune with the world around them. He doesn't give us a strong argument, and it would be fairly straightforward to poke holes in the argumentation. But that's not the point. His approach is essayistic, sometimes poetic, and nothing like a formal policy paper.

Snyder's bioregionalism is grounded in natural regions, defined by biomes and by small-scale human communities. Politically he would like us organized well below the level of the state. He'd like each community to share a commons from which it draws natural resources, leaving wild areas on the other side of these commons. It's a reasonable vision, but not one possible with current levels of human population.

It's not clear how large urban centers fit into this vision, or if they should be broken up and scattered about. Such scattering would, to say the least, have a much greater impact on the natural world than the status quo - - dense cities with good public transportation actually have much smaller carbon footprints than dispersed human communities.

Snyder's bioregional vision reflects several strains of thought. One is a critique of civilization, and a deep sympathy with indigenous peoples. Unlike some other writers, he does not romanticize the indigenous, though I would say he remains overly optimistic about their lifestyles as an alternative to industrial civilizations. More distinctively, Snyder's writing reflects a fascination with other religious traditions and a love of language and etymology. He has himself arrived at Buddhism but he sees value in many other lines of religious thinking.

These essays are full of insights about human communities and the natural world, and well worth a read.
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