These essays are reports from an increasingly important crossroads where art and ecology meet. Andrew Schelling belongs, in the words of Patrick Pritchett, to a small group of poets who are actively engaged with the rhythms and pulses of the natural world. He is also the preeminent translator into English of the poetries of ancient India. Wild Form, Savage Grammar collects ten years of essays, many of which investigate the nature literacy of American and Asian poetry traditions. Other topics include recollections of Allen Ginsberg and Joanne Kyger, wolf reintroduction in the Rocky Mountains, pilgrimage to Buddhist India, and the possible use of hallucinogens among Paleolithic artists. An underlying commitment to ecology studies, Buddhist teachings, and contemporary poetry weaves the collection together.
Andrew Schelling is the latest incarnation in an American poetic lineage that began with the Transcendentalists and moved west with Rexroth and Snyder: the unlikely and fortuitous conjunction of wilderness expertise, the observational precision of a natural historian, homegrown radical politics, and an immersion in Asian philosophy and writing. In these essays, poems, and translations, ancient wisdom is talking about whats happening right now.
Bill Porter / Red Pine
My other favorite book of essays this year is easily Andrew Schelling's WILD FORM & SAVAGE GRAMMAR (La Alameda Press, 2002): wait until you get a load of the cover painting and handsome design of this book. It's like reading a paperback made of soft ferns. The subtitle of: poetry, ecology and Asia is much the Schelling M.O., being a noted Sanskrit translator and a fellow who spends his off hours hiking in them thar Colorado hills. Schelling is also one more of those east coast children who went west and dunked his head unabashedly into the wild springs called Everson, Rexroth and Snyder and has come forth interpreting and continuing some of the best stuff of that archetypal west. He's a true blue lover of its region, its texts, and that poetry essay that reads so studiously fibrous.It gives me goose bumps! Sixty years ago and given half the chance he would have searched out Jaime deAngulo on the Big Sur coast like his New England brethren Van Wyck Brooks had done, but unlike Brooks he would have lasted out there longer. When Andrew comes to visit us, we all stand in the kitchen talking hours on end. Not a drink offered, not a chair turned to; all busy in that wild form of coming together.