book beginnings on Friday: Turtle Island by Gary Snyder

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

turtle island

I’m a little out of order, as I’ve reviewed this book already. But for further musing and perspective, I want to share with you a piece of the “Introductory Note” that explains its title.

Turtle Island–the old/new name for the continent, based on many creation myths of the people who have been living here for millenia, and reapplied by some of them to “North America” in recent years. Also, an idea found world-wide, of the earth, or cosmos even, sustained by a great turtle or serpent-of-eternity.

…Anglos, Black people, Chicanos, and others beached up on these shores all share such views at the deepest levels of their old cultural traditions–African, Asian, or European. Hark again to those roots, to see our ancient solidarity, and then to the work of being together on Turtle Island.

I collected turtles in high school. Stuffed, carved, as pendants and pillows. It’s the animal I chose as my own somehow. They still resonate; I don’t have all those turtles any more, but I’ve kept a small group of small ones, which turn out to be (by coincidence? I doubt it; but not on purpose) to be crafted from natural materials: stone, wood, shell. I feel at home here.

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