2019 Student Research Conference:
32nd Annual Student Research Conference

Poetic (Im)Personalism in Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End


Jessica Tiller
Dr. Royce Kallerud, Faculty Mentor

Written over the span of forty years in the mountains of Japan and the Pacific Northwest, Gary Snyder’s epic poem Mountains and Rivers Without End takes inspiration from nature, and draws on the traditions of Asian art, Zen Buddhism, and Native American myth. Since its publication in 1996, it has been lauded as “the culmination of Snyder’s career” (Dean 462). In Tim Dean’s piece, “The Other’s Voice: Cultural Imperialism and Poetic Impersonality in Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers Without End,” he argues that since the poem “harmonizes a vast range of disparate utterances into a collective voice,” its voice “should be understood as impersonal-- something other than Snyder’s individual voice” (462-463). I argue against his interpretation, proposing a reading of the poem as a meeting point of the personal and the impersonal, much in the same way that it is the meeting point of East and West, human and nonhuman.

Keywords: Gary Snyder, poetic impersonalism, Asian poetry, Zen buddhism, Native American myth, shamanism

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 206-5
Location: BH 251
Time: 11:15

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