Gary Snyder * 2.14.56 * Reed College

Gary Snyder
Reading from “Myths & Texts,” "Riprap" and other poems at Reed College, Portland, OR
February 14, 1956

On February 13, 1956, Gary Snyder ’51 returned to Reed College with Allen Ginsberg for a poetry reading at Anna Mann Cottage. The next day, when the poets read again, the unscheduled event was recorded.

The reel of audiotape containing the Ginsberg reading, including his reading of “Howl,” was discovered in 2007 in Reed’s Hauser Library by John Suiter, a writer doing research for a biography of Snyder. Beside the reel was a note that contained disappointing news about the Snyder half of the reading: “Tape #1 Missing.”

Then, the morning after the “Howl” story appeared in Portland’s Oregonian, Steven Halpern ’85, a Portland-based photographer, showed up at the door of Reed’s special collections with an audiocassette copy of the missing tape. He had made the copy 25 years before as an English major doing research on Snyder’s friend and fellow-poet Lew Welch ’50. Tape 1 contained Snyder’s reading. Furthermore, Halpern had meticulously transferred from the original reel all the labeling information, which not only confirmed the exact date of the reading—February 14, 1956—but also included this note:

Poetry Reading made in the school year ’55–1956 at Reed College [when] Snyder was on a trip North from San Francisco that is briefly described in Dharma Bums trip with Allen Ginsberg. Snyder talks about his lookout experiences and early poetry writing.

Although the original reel has yet to surface, Halpern’s cassette is a superb copy—virtually equal in sound quality to the Ginsberg companion reel—and is more than twice as long, containing a lengthy selection of 46 Snyder poems.

--Copyright 2008,
Reed College (for educational purposes only!)

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More info on this reading at The Oregonian and in this pdf story by Snyder scholar John Suiter.