Alfred University News

Ben Howard, emeritus professor of English, pens letter for The Times Literary Supplement

A letter by Benjamin Howard, emeritus professor of English at Alfred University, appears in the Oct. 21 issue of The Times Literary Supplement.

Written in response to a TLS review of Gary Snyder’s Collected Poems, in which the reviewer refers twice to Snyder’s “Buddhist faith,” Howard’s letter notes that “Zen Buddhism is not a faith but a practice. Although the Buddhist themes of impermanence and interdependence permeate Zen literature, Zen is not a belief system to which one converts. Rather it is a daily practice in which one trains the mind and cultivates compassionate wisdom.”

A noted poet and essayist whose work has appeared internationally, Howard is the author of eleven books, most recently Immovable Awareness: The Intimate Practice of Zen (2016) and Firewood and Ashes: New and Selected Poems (2015). Until his retirement in 2006, Howard taught literature, writing, classical guitar, and Buddhist meditation at Alfred University. A longtime Zen practitioner, he received the precepts in the Hakuin lineage of Rinzai Zen at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in 2002. Since 1998 he has led the Falling Leaf Sangha, a Zen practice group in Alfred.