The Practice of the Wild: Reading and Reflecting on Gary Snyder’s Nature Writing

La Terre Institute for Community and Ecology
22500 Rue La Terre, Kiln, MS.
Oct. 19-21, 2018

Gary Snyder is one of the most important poets of nature and nature writers today. He first became widely known as one of the Beat Poets. Many discovered him through his fictionalized version, Japhy Ryder, in Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums.  After spending years living and studying Zen in Japan, Snyder settled near Nevada City, California. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Turtle Island, the American Book Award for Axe Handles, and has written many other highly regarded and influential works. He is a major inspiration for the ecology and bioregional movements, and for our project at Bayou la Terre.

We will discuss selections from Snyder’s classic work, The Practice of the Wild, which is unsurpassed as an introduction to reflection on nature. On registering, participants will be sent a PDF of the readings. There will be some time for reading during the program, but please do as much as possible before the program. It is suggested that everyone record their responses as they do the readings. Each session will begin with reflections, reactions and questions from the group. Our time will be divided between the discussion sessions and periods of reading, walking, reflection, meditation, and writing. Saturday evening, we will view a documentary film on Gary Snyder and his work.

The program will be held at La Terre Institute, on 87 wooded acres on Bayou La Terre, near Dedeaux, MS. It is 67 miles (70 min.) from the center of New Orleans. Participants should bring food, tents, personal items and flashlights. We will contribute some food for group meals and have some room for participants in the house and cabin. There is no fee for the program. Donations are not expected but are welcome to help defray costs of programs and facilities. Participants are also invited to volunteer for trail work, building and other projects, for program planning and publicity, and to teach, coteach or facilitate future programs. There will be no work projects during the weekend program.

Maximum registration for the program will be fifteen. Please register as soon as possible, but only if you are confident that you can participate on the scheduled weekend, that you will read the assigned readings before the discussions, and that you will be present for the entire program, from 6:00 PM Friday until 3:00 PM Sunday. Please email for further information and to register.


6:00     Arrival, Dinner, Introductions
7:30     Session 1: Introduction to the Program
9:00     Free Time, Reading and Reflection

8:00     Breakfast
9:00     Session 2: “The Etiquette of Freedom” (3-24)
10:30   Session 3: “The Place, the Region, and the Commons” (27-44)
Noon   Lunch
1:00     Session 4: “Good, Wild, Sacred” (78-96)
2:30     Free Time, Reading and Reflection
5:00     Session 5: “Blue Mountains Constantly Walking” (97-115)
6:15     Dinner
7:30     Session 6: “Practice of the Wild” film and discussion.
9:00     Free Time, Reading and Reflection

8:00     Breakfast
9:00     Session 7: “On the Path, Off the Trail” (145-154)
10:30   Session 8: “Survival and Sacrament” (175-185)
Noon   Lunch
1:15     Session 9: Conclusion and Closing
2:30     Prepare for Departure
3:00     Optional Hike