Sunday, April 23, 2017

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades by John Suiter

Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades

A few months ago, this book arrived in the mail unexpectedly -- a surprise gift from my Kerouacian friend and brother, Richard Marsh. I started reading it immediately but got side-tracked, and yesterday -- a lowery Maine day -- I spent a little more time with it. I am in the beginning section about Gary Snyder's fire lookout time on Crater Mountain in the North Cascades. Author John Suiter's pictures are a great supplement to the very detailed information. I can't wait to get to the Kerouac section (another good thing about retirement being 38 days away!). Here is part of the description on Amazon:

Based on scores of previously unpublished letters and journals, plus recent interviews with Snyder and Whalen and several others, Poets on the Peaks creates a group portrait of Kerouac, Snyder, and Whalen that transcends the tired urban clich├ęs of the "Beat" life. Poets on the Peaks is about the development of a community of poets, including the famous Six Gallery reading of October 1955, and contains unexpected cameos by fellow poets and mountain-climbers Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, Philip Lamantia, and Michael McClure. Poets on the Peaks is also a book about Dharma and the years of Dharma Bums--from the 1951 roadside revelation in the Nevada desert that led Gary Snyder to drop out of academia and head for Japan, to Kerouac's lonely vigil with The Diamond Sutra on Desolation Peak, to Philip Whalen's ordination as a Zen priest. Finally, Poets on the Peaks is the story of the birth of a wilderness ethic, as well as a photographic homage to the Cascades landscape, a landscape virtually unchanged since these men journeyed there thanks to the environmental protections they helped inspire.
On a related Kerouac note, sending your friends unannounced gifts for no particular reason is a very Beat thing to do. I can think of several times in Kerouac's novels where he gives or receives without expectation of anything in return. Can you?

Oh, and here's the Amazon link if you want your own copy: https://www.amazon.com/Poets-Peaks-Snyder-Kerouac-Cascades/dp/1582431485/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492948007&sr=1-1&keywords=poets+on+the+peaks . Yes, it'd be better to buy it from a local used bookstore, but just in case that's not possible....

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