This Present Moment: New Poems Gary Snyder Counterpoint Press, 2015 88 pp.; $22.00 (Cloth)
A flat package arrived in the mail 15 years ago. When I opened the envelope it held a photocopy of the Candamaharoshana Tantra, both its original Sanskrit text and an English translation by the scholar Christopher S. George. A note Gary Snyder had tucked inside said, “I only give this to friends over 40, and married.”
The Candamaharoshana is a dialogue between Shiva and his wife, Parvati. Its intent is to break both attachment and revulsion toward the body through the most extreme sexual practices of devotion, cherishing the smells, the wastes, the hidden inward operations of digestion, excretion, salivation, and perspiration of the beloved’s physical body. In talking about two recent books, one by Gary Snyder, one a compilation of talks and lectures around his work, I want to keep that gift with its little note in mind, because it reveals two practices that run through Snyder’s writings.