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If This Doesn't Change Your Destiny, Nothing Else Will.

A Conversation with Peter Coyote


By Tova Green

In November 2021, I satisfied with Peter Coyote to go over Tongue of a Crow, his very first book of poetry, released in September 2021. We wound up having an extensive conversation that included his latest book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet Buddha, what is most alive for him in his Zen Buddhist practice, and his ideas about Zen Buddhism in North America.

Coyote, popular for his acting and for telling prize-winning documentary, has actually been a closet poet because the 1960s. In 1969, he transferred to Los Angeles to study imaginative writing in a M.A program with poetRobert Duncan Although he had buddies amongst the beat poets, consisting of Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen, he never ever informed them that he was composing poetry. Instead he kept his poems in a drawer.

When he turned seventy-five, Coyote browsed the numerous documents in the drawer, poems edited a period of fifty years. He asked poet Patrick Donnelly to assist him modify his poems and form them into a manuscript. They interacted on the Tongue of a Crow for over 2 years. After it was released, and the very first time Coyote read his poems in public, he was horrified and shy. “It was so tender.”

The book’s title originates from his poem, “Six Cold Comforts”:

Slitting the tongue of a crow allows it
to speak English.

“Some people have taught crows to say a few words,” Coyote discussed, and he was captivated by that image. Coyote has an affinity for crows and feeds in between twenty-five and twenty-eight crows every day.

As he continues to compose poetry, he now discovers the art of modification most amazing. He questions his poems to discover what they require and selects words more precisely. He examines a poem that does not work “to see what’s waste in it,” what can be cut. He eagerly anticipates taping an audiobook variation of Tongue of a Crow.

Coyote has actually practiced Zen for 45 years. He was ordained as a priest by Lew Richmond in 2011 and gotten Dharma transmission in 2015. Richmond offered him the name HoSho JiShi/ Dharma Voice,Compassion Warrior He discovers zazen–“settling into emptiness”– really suitable with poetry and acting.

Although Coyote has priest bathrobes, his every day life is “quite secular.” He has actually found out how to speak with individuals who have no grounding inZen During the pandemic, he offered dharma talks online every 2 weeks. He discovered this stressful and is thinking about other methods of approaching Zen mentor. He and 2 associates, David Brazier, author of The Feeling Buddha, and Paul Shippe are checking out how to communicate what they call “vernacular Zen.” “Without losing the essence of Zen, how do I loosen the Japanese gift-wrapping around the Buddha’s actual gift, so it doesn’t seem exotic or foreign?”

His most recent book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Meet Buddha: Masks, Meditation, and Improvised Play to Induce Liberated States is an expedition of how flexible the sense of self can be– how to utilize masks, meditation, and improvisation to complimentary ourselves from who we believe we are.

Peter Coyote discovers numerous methods to reveal the voice of the Dharma with empathy and fierceness, embodying his Dharma name.

Tongue of a Crow is readily available through the Zen Center Bookstore.

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