cover image The Practice of the Wild: Essays

The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Gary Snyder. North Point Press, $29.95 (190pp) ISBN 978-0-86547-453-6

Essayist and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Snyder ( Turtle Island ) offers nine sensitive and thoughtful essays blending his personal Buddhist beliefs, respect for wildlife and the land, and fascination with language and mythic tradition into a ``meditation on what it means to be human.'' In ``The Place, the Region, and the Commons,'' he relates the old English concept of the common to publicly held U.S. forests, expressing concern that Americans, who lack an intimate familiarity with the land, ``are not actually living here intellectually, imaginatively, or morally.'' ``Tawny Grammar,'' referring to a Spanish phrase for knowledge of nature, examines this knowledge through a school curriculum in northwest Alaska that combines traditional native values and marketable skills. ``Ancient Forests of the Far West'' contrasts Snyder's experience as a logger in the 1950s, when the industry still exercised restraint, with the current depletion of American woodlands. And ``The Woman Who Married a Bear'' comments on relations between bears and humans through a Native American myth about a girl who is carried off by a grizzly that assumes the form of a man. (Sept.)