Diary/Quote: Gary Snyder’s The Real Work

Rereading Gary Snyder’s “the real work – collected essays, interviews and speeches”

I’ve followed his instructions diligently over the past 15 years


For the two branches of literature—spoken and written—each has its own vocabulary, syntax, rhythm, style, affectations, patterns, pacing, punctuation, and canon. I always loved spoken literature. A good interview gave me as much pleasure as a well-written short story. So, from a young age, I learned how to write by transcribing what people said. I learned language by hearing it. Anything said by anyone could make it into my little notebook. Then I began writing what I said aloud, and I began to realize that if a writer took ownership of their words and published them alongside their poems and essays, they had a book, as valid as any other. This book could even be among their greatest works.