The San Francicsco Chronicle discusses a recent reading the poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder gave in North Beach, the San Francisco neighborhood at the heart of the Beat scene. He read from the new book that collects his correspndence with Allen Ginsberg, spanning 35 years. Snyder cheerfully discusses the evolving media of correspondence:
“Today, you’d do it all with cell phones and e-mail and you’d constantly be in touch with each other,” Snyder said. Still, he doesn’t mourn the loss of handwritten letters.
“Hard-copy files of e-mail are certainly pulled up by the thousands of pages when somebody’s going to court, especially in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Writers simply write, no matter the medium.
“E-mail does speed you up, and you’ll answer with a quick, hasty note. But we used to do that with postcards. When people e-mail me – and they do – the first thing I ask is ‘Where are you?’ ” He is loath to enter what he calls “a placeless void.” “I want to know where they are and what they do there. If they’ll answer that, then we can go on.”
Texting, he allowed, is different. Still, “I would never write off what people do,” he said. “Every generation, people say, ‘We’re losing this, we’re losing that.’ But the important stuff continues. It goes out of fashion and comes back into fashion within a blink of an eye.
“Your grandchildren may be fantastically into writing letters to each other – with quill pens! You just don’t know.”
Tricycle earns a few passing and not always flattering mentions toward the back of the book.