For the past six months I've been reading everything he's written. I started by re-reading all of the books I already had (including RipRap and the Cold Mountain poems). Then I went on amazon and started buying his books. Axe Handles is magnificent. Turtle Island won the Pulitzer prize for poetry in 1975.
It all goes well when I start my morning mindfully reading Snyder. He takes me back up into the mountains where I lived for so long.
There's a documentary about him on Netflix that I'm going to track down too.
I love doing this. Reading through the body of work of a great writer is time well spent.
This poem in particular has been a touchstone of my writing life:
Hay for the Horses
by Gary Snyder
He had driven half the night From far down San Joaquin Through Mariposa, up the Dangerous Mountain roads, And pulled in at eight a.m. With his big truckload of hay behind the barn. With winch and ropes and hooks We stacked the bales up clean To splintery redwood rafters High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa Whirling through shingle-cracks of light, Itch of haydust in the sweaty shirt and shoes. At lunchtime under Black oak Out in the hot corral, ---The old mare nosing lunchpails, Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds--- "I'm sixty-eight" he said, "I first bucked hay when I was seventeen. I thought, that day I started, I sure would hate to do this all my life. And dammit, that's just what I've gone and done."
From Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder, published by North Point Press. Copyright © 1958, 1959, 1965 Gary Snyder. Used with permission. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15436#sthash.TfYQX1Yf.dpuf