Beat poet Gary Snyder writes a Mac poem

February 8, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/technology/personaltech/22sfbriefs.html?scp=1&sq=beat%20poet&st=cse

Gary Snyder photo

I love it when a writer can slay me with the first line. “Because it broods under its hood like a perched falcon,” dear Mr. Snyder, that is a kick ass opening line to your poem. When I look at his picture, I imagine a deep poetic voice intoning them (I kind of hear it like Sean Connery,) and it has such a cool impact.

I remember my AP English high school teacher, Mr. Hunt, ’94-95 Maine South HS, talking about the importance of a work of literature’s first sentence. If it can hook you in right at the gate, and even manage to encapsulate the theme and the plot in microcosm, then it’s a successful classic first sentence. In poetry, where every line is important to create a whole world in a few stanzas without the luxury of an entire novel to develop it, the first line is a powerful tool for drawing you into the poem with an immediate payoff of connection.

Because of Mr. Hunt’s lesson, I have always strived to apply this principle to my writing. Some poems start with a killer opening line. But I must admit that some of my other poems focus more on a journey towards a powerful finishing line, with the opener being more of a setting layout. A few manage to achieve both. Having only one book under my belt so far, I hope to merge the two concepts more and more as I grow as a writer.

The mark of a great poet is to have both the powerful first line, and the thought provoking end line to leave a taste in your mouth you can chew on (not to mention an enjoyable development of all the middle lines.) Snyder concludes his poem with “[We] Feel rich, relax, I throw it a scrap and it hums.” I love that image of throwing the computer your idea scraps after you’ve been out in the world. As an avid Mac user myself, I know that feeling of connection to it, as the safe storage space for all your ideas and thoughts. Ones just such as these on which I’m about to hit “Publish.”

2 Responses to “Beat poet Gary Snyder writes a Mac poem”


  1. Thank you for reminding me of killer opening lines and savory endings. When I was writing short fiction, I always tried to catch the reader with a powerful openings, but I’ve forgotten their importance as I moved into experimenting with poetry.

    They’re back in my brain…now to get them on paper.


  2. Thank you, glad you’re inspired to create!


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