Gary Snyder (b. 1930) was born in San Francisco, but his family moved to a farm outside of Seattle when he was two, and he grew up in the Pacific Northwest. In 1942 the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where he went to high school. In 1947 he enrolled in Reed College and shared a house with two other young poets, Philip Whalen and Lew Welch. His first published poems appeared in the Reed literary magazine.
In 1952 he moved to San Francisco and then rented a small cottage in Berkeley while he studied in the university's Asian language program. He soon met Beat writers Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and his cottage became one of the hangouts for the young Beat movement. Kerouac made him the hero of his novel The Dharma Bums, naming him "Japhy Ryder." Snyder was one of the other readers the night Allen Ginsberg first read parts of "Howl." In 1957 Snyder moved to Japan, and for the next dozen years he lived mostly in Kyoto, studying and meditating at the Daitoku-ji Zen monastery. His first book, Riprap, was published in 1959.
Snyder came back to San Francisco in time for the Human Be-In in 1967, and after that he lived for many years with his wife and children in a Japanese-style house he built in the California mountains. He now teaches poetry half the year at the University of California at Davis and also lectures on ecology and the environment. He is a popular reader of his own work and often appears with friends, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. His collection Turtle Island won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.