THE THIRD MIND BOOKS SEPTEMBER SPECIAL features GARY SNYDER, Beat-&-Beyond ambassador of ecological, ethno-poetic and Zen learning. For the month of September only, we’ll be featuring 25 items from Snyder–and most from the collection of KEN MIKOLOWSKI, poet and publisher of Detroit’s legendary Alternative Press. The ORIGINAL “Alternative Press,” not the music magazine of immense popularity circulated today (that actually bears no relation to the first”Alternative Press,” with the original now often referred to as “T.A.P.” to be discerned from the pop-punk alt-centric magazine) was founded by Ken & his late wife, the acclaimed artist Ann Mikolowski. The most celebrated innovation of the Alternative Press has come to be known as the “Multiple Originals Project,” an idea initially birthed to subvert the immense letterpress printing labors regularly undertaken by Ken & Ann in their basement on Avery St. in Detroit, the first home for T.A.P. The scene around John Sinclair and the Artists’ Workshop in Detroit had gathered such steam and cultural influence that Sinclair–even before his storied arrest for two joints–was the target of Detroit police officers who made it their business to run Sinclair out of the city at whatever cost. Sinclair’s exodus from post-riot Detroit led him to the home of Third Mind Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in January of 1968, where the Artists’ Workshop would more fully morph into Trans Love Energies, with Sinclair turning his focus towards greater political activism and managing the bands under the Trans-Love moniker. He also took to publishing the Ann Arbor Sun Magazine, now one of many legendary publications under his influence and name. The Artists’ Workshop still did own a printing press–the same press Sinclair’s legendary publications Work, Change, and the myriad others from the Artists’ Workshop Press were printed on. Ken and Ann bought that press, and when Allen Ginsberg phoned Ken (on a number given to him by Ken’s friend since 1963, Robert Creeley) asking for a place to stay for two weeks in Detroit to raise money for John Sinclair’s legal defense fund. Ken was sure to ask Allen for a poem to launch his press. For the price of one poem–to Ken’s lasting gratitude–Ginsberg agreed, and Ken & Ann inaugurated their press with a short poem by Allen Ginsberg which Ken is still able to recite verbatim from memory to this day. He was there, part of it all–and Third Mind Books had first-hand access to his incredible collection. Most of the items–and there will be more to come–are featured on our website, and are now available to the public for the very first time. The Gary Snyder inventory we obtained from Ken is among the most prized and prestigious. Check it out at the link below, at 10% off FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER ONLY!!!
But back to Gary Snyder, “…ambassador of ecological, ethno-poetic, and Zen learning,”–or at least those are the taglines. But, for a figure of Snyder’s stature, it’s true. There’s no one else in the Beat tradition who put those beliefs into practice quite like Snyder. Michael McClure is also often cited as a forerunner that spoke out about the harsh realities of ecological awareness. McClure and Snyder understood the need for an honest evaluation of civilian living, and constantly urged people to question the impact of their day-to-day activity and buying habits; exhorting them to evaluate the impact of these on our environment. Of the two, it is the opinion of this author that Snyder took it all much farther, much more seriously, and took it to a far more legitimate level. Just look at the ecological fortifications of Kitkitdizze, his home-complex he has lived at for many years. Solar panels before they were chic and the whole nine yards does not even begin to describe this man’s commitment to his principles. He started off more bohemian, more interested in Blakean Crazy Wisdom Buddhism and “Yab-Yum” than sustainability and ecological preservation. But today, his image has been solidified as perhaps the most scholarly, cosmopolitan, and wide-minded of all Beat authors–with an audience still growing that includes even Establishment types that disparage all other Beat luminaries.
In 1975, Snyder was awarded a Pulitzer prize for his collection Turtle Island, a paramount specimen of which is included in this month’s special. During this time he was living on the San Juan Ridge in California with a group of individuals committed to putting Bioregionalist ideas and theories into practice. This community was thriving artistically, with Gary much at the center of its ethos and spirit. The Ridge even had its own literary journal, founded by Dale Pendell and titled Kuksu, and these poets, artists, and ecological philosophers, along with Snyder himself, were regularly featured. Pendell was a contemporary of Thomas Rain Crowe, the subject of Third Mind Books 2017 Presentation at the European Beat Studies Network Conference later this month in Paris, France. Snyder made frequent visits down to San Francisco from the Ridge, where he was simultaneously mentoring Thomas Rain Crowe, Philip Daughtry and others. Snyder came to occupy a special place in what would later be known as the Second San Francisco Renaissance occurring precisely at this time–and the story of Crowe, his contemporaries, and the archive we obtained from Thomas detailing this period is the focus of this year’s presentation. It will be filmed and posted to YouTube and similar sites in the social media stratosphere, and next month’s edition of The Fine Print Newsletter will contain links to our founder, Arthur S. Nusbaum’s highly-anticipated presentation–as he is the very first among Beat scholars to cover this topic with such depth and specificity.
Gary Snyder is celebrated for his ecological affinities and foresight in the world of today, but his skill as a poet, his sense of craft, and most importantly his overarching sense of vocation–has permeated his every step since the dawn of the First San Francisco Renaissance. He understood as much about musicality in language, the potency of the proper image and how to choose/attain it, the lessons of Williams and their forebears, etc. as Ginsberg–all filtered through the originality of his own mind. It’s like Matisse quoting Courbet–“I have simply wished to assert my own individuality within a total knowledge of tradition.” Snyder, like Ginsberg and many of the greatest artists and poets alike, understood this and embraced it. Snyder, a poet often citing “the Old Ways,” the benefit of considering our land, our people, our lives together through the lens of our ancestors as well as that of our contemporaries–truly made a statement that still entices people to consider its verity. The Snyder of Dharma Bums may have been only a brief incarnation of his personality, an almost past-life to the refined Sage of Sustainability he is celebrated as today–yet his aesthetic, his message, and the unshakeable roots beneath his foundation are Beat to the Bone, and will continue to be.
This month we celebrate Gary Snyder with 25 immense rarities, ALL AT 25% OFF FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER ONLY.