Chapter

/ Teaching the Law: Gary Snyder's Poetics of Emptiness

Jonathan Stalling

in Poetics of Emptiness

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231447
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241835 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823231447.003.0005

Series: American Literatures Initiative

/  Teaching the Law: Gary Snyder's Poetics of Emptiness

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This chapter explores the didactic and soteriological function of classical Chinese poetics that take shape in Snyder's desire to transmit the Buddhist dharma, so that it may shed some light on how different notions of emptiness produce radically different poetic praxis. But by chasing the intertextual tail of emptiness through Snyder's work and theories of translation, this chapter shows how he transforms concepts of emptiness drawn from Zen and Yogācāran Buddhist discourses into a unique unifying grammar in his own poetic productions. Using Snyder's explicitly Buddhist body of work, this chapter argues that his writing reflects and reframes Zennist readings of classical Chinese poetry found in Dogen's Shōbōgenzō, the Zenrin kushu, along with Snyder's own Zennist reading of the Tang poet Han Shan. Lastly, this chapter maps the ways in which Snyder's Zen reading of classical Chinese poetry draws upon and further codifies specific Zennist interpretive habits.

Keywords: Chinese poetics; Buddhist dharma; emptiness; poetic praxis; Zennist readings

Chapter.  8932 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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