Legendary poet Gary Snyder to read at UC Santa Cruz for annual Morton Marcus event

gary snyder poster for The Humanities Institute
Artist Tom Killion (Cowell ’75, history)
Artist Tom Killion (Cowell ’75, history)

Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, essayist, and environmental activist Gary Snyder will be the featured guest at the ninth annual Morton Marcus Memorial Poetry Reading on Thursday, November 15, at the Music Center Recital Hall on the UC Santa Cruz campus.

Snyder began his career in the 1950s as a notable member of the Beat Generation, but then moved on to explore a wide array of social and spiritual topics in poetry and prose.

Often described as the "poet laureate of Deep Ecology," Snyder has become a spokesman for the preservation of the natural world and the cultures that seek to protect it.

In 1955, he famously read his poem "Berry Feast" at San Francisco's Six Gallery reading, alongside fellow Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and in front of his friends, Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The following year, Snyder moved to Japan to study Zen Buddhism and later traveled extensively throughout Asia. His poetry is influenced by Japanese haiku and Chinese verse, as well as the study of anthropology and oral traditions.

Snyder is the author of nearly two dozen books of poetry and prose. In 1975, his collection Turtle Island was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

He received the American Book Award in 1984 for Axe Handles, and his 1992 collection, No Nature, was named a National Book Award finalist. And in 2012, Snyder received the Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement by the Academy of American Poets.

The Morton Marcus Memorial Poetry Reading is held each year to honor poet, teacher, film critic, and Santa Cruz cultural icon Morton Marcus (1936-2009).

It was created to continue Marcus’s tradition of bringing acclaimed poets to Santa Cruz County, to acknowledge the significant role poetry has played in the community's history, and to help preserve poetry's influence in the county's culture.

UC Santa Cruz humanities lecturer and alumnus Gary Young--Santa Cruz's first ever poet laureate--will host the program and present a cash prize to the winner of the annual Morton Marcus Poetry Contest.

The event will also include a special appearance by UC Santa Cruz alumnus Tom Killion, who is internationally known for his vividly colored woodcut prints of the California landscape.

Killion has collaborated on several books with Snyder, including California’s Wild Edge, Tamalpais Walking, and The High Sierra of California.

Presented by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz, this is a community event, co-sponsored by the Living Writers Series, Porter Hitchcock Modern Poetry Fund, Special Collections & Archives, Cowell College, Porter College, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Ow Family Properties; Poetry Santa Cruz; Cabrillo College English Department; Santa Cruz Writes; and Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Admission is free, and the public is invited. A book signing and reception will follow the reading.

The festivities begin at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit thi.ucsc.edu.