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Back on the Fire: Essays

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  16 reviews
This collection of essays by Gary Snyder, now in paperback, blazes with insight. In his most autobiographical writing to date, Snyder employs fire as a metaphor for the crucial moment when deeply held viewpoints yield to new experiences, and our spirits and minds broaden and mature. Snyder here writes and riffs on a wide range of topics, from our sense of place and a need ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 28th 2008 by Counterpoint (first published 2007)
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Joseph Hlebica
Aug 26, 2008 Joseph Hlebica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of poetry, nature, Asian and Native American studies
Recommended to Joseph by: Prof Emeritus Glen A Love, University of Oregon
I don't get how we're supposed to review a book we have not yet read, but I will recommend the author, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet/essayist Gary Snyder. Snyder has been described as the most significant of the former Beat Poets by more than a few scholars. Notably, when his cohort - which includes Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, and a host of others - went crazy for drugs, alcohol, and hedonism, Snyder went East, becoming an ordained Zen Buddhist monk. That exp ...more
Read this before the Big Sur fire was even on the map. My sister has a Silicon Valley retreat place there in the Los Padres National Forest. As a city dweller - renting's curious how a fire can get under your skin just hearing about it's path.
Yet I don't have any real feeling for a vacation house demise. I do feel something for a friend who was burned out of his apartment building on Woodward Street & then went down to live at Tassjara & was evacuated. That was a double fire ya
Rob Woodard
Nice collection of relatively recent Snyder essays, going over his usual ground of general ecological thought, bioregionalism, poetry, and Buddhism/Daoist traditions. The earlier parts of the volume are the best. here Snyder goes some very interesting discussions of California and world ecology that rank with best essays on the subject. The latter half of the book mainly collects introductions and forwards he's done for other people's books. For the most part these are worth reading, but they si ...more
Jim Parker
This book is a collection of essay most are very interesting. Many are the forewords to other books.

I very much enjoy essays as a literary form but I also know I don't understand what is expected of in this form. Snyder being a poet fills his essays with wonderful images and makes use of all the literary devices. Trying to remember from my creative writing course in high school from Wayne Wooten just what is suppose to be in one of these. However, I'm sure if I could have ever written a single o
i'm incapable of rating snyder anything less than a 4. that said, i felt like a lot of this collection consisted of some less inspired revisitations to his usual themes, and i'm never quite clear on the reasons for publishing a bunch of introductions to other people's books in a collection of essays, and there was a little too much of that here for me to be totally enthralled. but still. it's gary snyder. what can i say.
Ecologically, Snyder has been ahead of the curve for decades. An important thinker who, like David Brower, was for decades a prophetic voice.
Joseph Hlebica
Everything I need to know about forestry management in the Sierra Nevada watershed, by a lifelong forester and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
George Coologeorgen
Very insightful in regards to the interaction between man, animals, and the general ecosystem.
Back on the Fire is a collection of essays by the renowned beat and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, social and environmental activist, Gary Snyder. Of course, many people may have first heard of Snyder, as Japhy Ryder, one of the two unforgettable protagonists of Kerouac’s classic, The Dharma Bums, a book which, incidentally, inspired me even more than On the Road.

Throughout these essays and lectures, Snyder glibly discusses not only his own ethics and concerns about the world but also nostalgical
"In his most autobiographical writing to date, Gary Snyder employs fire as a metaphor for the crucial moment when deeply held viewpoints yield to new experiences, and our spirits and minds broaden and mature. He writes and riffs on a wide range of topics, from explorations of southwestern European Paleolithic cave art, to his own personal poetic history with haiku; from pungent reminiscences of youthful West Coast logging and trail crew days, to talks given in Paris and Tokyo on art and archetyp ...more
Frederick Gault
Written by a true warrior poet. Even while reading about the eco-disaster unfolding in "the world watershed" the reader is soothed. This is a warrior fighting for justice with gentleness and wisdom.
Books of essays are tough to begin with, easily disjointed, but this suffers from being a compendium of work written for other purposes. That said, Snyder is still Snyder, with valuable insight and perspective. I did get a sense for his life and the evolution of his thinking with this book, and it's worthwhile reading. But not how I would choose to introduce someone to his work.
Sara Gray
This was a retread of the better essays in the last collection of Snyder's essays I read, though with a higher focus on fire and its role in the healthy ecology of the Californian landscape. The second half was all introductions to other people's books, so only for the Snyder superfan.
Aug 22, 2009 Jonas marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
love Snyder's poetry, been overwhelmed by some of his essays in the past but this one is getting tons of press, so will give it a shot next week when i have some time to devote to geeking out.
Sweet this type of jazz is totally eco dude.
Aug 02, 2007 Justin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eco-wimps
read it and weep
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Gary Snyder is an American poet (originally, often associated with the Beat Generation), essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Since the 1970s, he has frequently been described as the 'laureate of Deep Ecology'. From the 1950s on, he has published travel-journals and essays from time to time. His work in his various roles reflects his im ...more
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