Outstanding American poet, writer, translator, academic teacher, and environmentalist. He was born in 1930 in San Francisco, and grew up in Portland, Oregon. Being brought up on small farms, he got used to close contact with nature at a very young age. His respect for the surrounding nature later turned into a fascination with the culture of Native Americans. As a teenager, he often went hiking in the mountains. After graduating from high school, he began studying anthropology and literary studies. He earned his living in many ways: as a lumberjack, as a sailor, by marking out tourist trails, watching out for forest fires. After receiving a university degree, he moved to San Francisco in order to study oriental languages at the University of California, Berkeley. At the time, he met many authors who were closely connected with the emerging Beat Generation movement – Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lew Welch, and Philip Whalen. During the legendary poetic soirée at the Six Gallery, Snyder read out the poem entitled A Berry Feast. His fascination with Buddhism made him move to Japan for 12 years in 1956, where he divided his time between meditation, travels, and work. When he returned, he settled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in a house he built with his wife and friends. In 1986, he became an academic teacher at the University of California, Davis.
Snyder’s oeuvre includes volumes of poetry, travel notes, essays, as well as translations from Japanese and Chinese. In many texts, the writer concentrates on people’s attitude towards the natural environment, drawing attention to ecological threats and emphasising the special role of nature in people’s lives. On account of his strong involvement in the philosophy of eco-Buddhism, he has been called an “eco-poet” and an “eco-warrior”.
Snyder has received many prestigious literary awards and distinctions. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his volume entitled Turtle Island announced in 1974, and the No Nature collection published in 1993 was honoured with the National Book Award. He was also awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship (1968), the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (1966), and the Wallace Stevens Award (2012) in recognition of his lifetime achievement. The XXX collection, published in 2013, is the first collection of Snyder’s poetry available in Polish.