Turtle Island -- the old/new name for the continent, based on many creation myths of the people who have been living here for millennia, 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.
A name: that we may see ourselves more accurately on this continent of watersheds and life-communities -- plant zones, physiographic provinces, culture areas: following natural boundaries. The "U.S.A." and its states and counties are arbitrary and inaccurate impositions on what is really here.
The poems speak of place, and the energy-pathways that sustain life. Each living being is a swirl in the flow, a formal turbulence, a "song." The land, the planet itself, is also a living being -- at another pace. Anglos, Black people, Chicanos, and others beached upon 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.
--Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island