October 11, 2015
a recent visit, a Q&A was put to Peter by Grinnell's
college newspaper, The Scarlet & Black.
is your favorite memory
from your time at
There are many. My
closest friends, sitting
in the student union
every night, smoking
cigarettes and talking
about poetry from Donald
Allen’s book, "The New
1945-1960." Also the
nurturing of a community
of people that were just
like me, meaning we read
the same books, we
thought the same things
were important, and we
had the good luck to
meet from all over the
country right here. They
are still my closest
friends to this day—that
is, the ones that are
there any specific
events that pushed you
towards Buddhism? Had
you dabbled in other
Well, I had been raised
as a secular Jew in a
family with a lot of
and capitalists. There
was a lot of high-level,
high IQ chatter. Then
there were events in the
60s where people I loved
very much died in a way
that I felt, had I been
smarter and more
observant, I could have
responsibility and maybe
prevented that. This was
communal living — … kids
looked up to me that I
wasn’t really aware of
and [I] didn’t monitor
my behaviour and didn’t
protect them from my own
charisma. Three kids in
particular never made it
to 23. That was
something that stayed
with me long after the
60s. I had been a drug
addict in the 60s and
when I was cleaning up
my life and putting it
together I had been
interested in Zen and
had been reading about
it. I actually was
dating a woman who was
living at a monastery. I
started to practice and
it became a part of my
process of healing from
addiction and guilt and
all sorts of stuff.
was your favorite film
or TV show to act or
It’s hard to pick a
favorite. You know,
sometimes you do a movie
like “Timerider,” which
is a silly little cult
science fiction western.
I got to play this dumb
cowboy and be funny. I
loved doing that; it was
not really that
important. A movie like
“A Man in Love” put me
on the cover of every
magazine in Europe … It
was a really complicated
movie about a
American movie star and
I still get stopped by
people on the streets
who say, “You nailed
that guy.” Also, I love
working for Ken Burns: I
feel like I graduated
and went to heaven. I
love doing documentaries
because each one is
something that somebody
cared about passionately
and struggled for. It’s
like a crash course in a
single subject. I don’t
have a favorite. I like
the genre and the
process of actually
you could tell your
college self just one
insight that you’ve
learned since graduation
what would it be?
Don’t shoot heroin. That
would be one. The other
is that life is longer
than you think. Take
care of yourself and
Everything’s not gonna
happen all at once.
egocentric world, do you
think that it is ever
really possible to break
out of your ego?
absolutely do think it’s
possible to not destroy
the ego, which we need
and helps keep us
healthy, but to put it
on a long leash and let
it go when it’s not
appropriate. It’s not
appropriate to be
thinking of yourself
when you’re making love,
when you’re in a fight
for your life or if
you’re trying to help
other people, then your
self gets in the way.
Ego is a tool, but we
elevate it to the
stature of a guardian
and all of the sudden
it’s mediating all of
our experiences. There
is a whole world out
there that has nothing
to do with us.
leopards and spiral
nebulae and the Amazon.
It’s just like the
captain is in the
wheelhouse and has put
up all these photographs
of his personal history,
his friends, his
neighbors and his
qualities. He is living
in this tiny room and
around him is the
immensity of the ocean.
There are spiritual
practices that help you
get out of the
wheelhouse and the one I
practice is meditation
religious tradition has
a wisdom tradition, and
yes, it is something
that you can do, it’s
something you can
you can experience in
this life and then you
won’t have certain kinds
of questions plaguing
October 4, 2015
Thursday Peter gave a lecture on the power of intention
at his alma mater, Grinnell College. According to
the school's newspaper, he drew on his own experiences
and his Buddhist faith to demonstrate the importance of
intention. He began by explaining some basic facets of
Buddhism and then moved into a discussion of how we are
all connected to the universe in some way.
He said, "We have never for one instant not been part of
all the universe and we are always part of it." He used
this idea to set up the crux of his talk: letting go of
your ego saying, "In a world in which everything is
changing and there are no fixed realities, the only
thing we can control is our intention." He argued that
this control of intention is what allows us to lead a
life that is personally fulfilling. At the same time,
the pursuit of personal fulfillment should be combined
with selflessness. In the Q&A that followed, Peter
addressed this issue more directly. He said, "The
question of how to be selfless is an impossible
question. There is great power to be had by taking an
unattainable vow because what it does is it binds you to
a moment-by-moment decision. If you keep that vow, it
will color the decision you make."
September 28, 2015
1964 Grinnell College graduate, Peter will return to
his alma mater to give a free public lecture at 7 pm on
Thursday, October 1st. As a student at Grinnell,
he was one of the organizers of a group of students
known as the “Grinnell 14” who traveled to Washington,
D.C., during the Cuban Missile Crisis, fasting and
picketing for three days, protesting the resumption of
nuclear testing, and supporting President Kennedy’s
“peace race.” President Kennedy invited the group into
the White House (the first time protesters had ever been
so recognized) and they met with the U.S. National
Security Adviser McGeorge “Mac” Bundy. This meeting
received national media attention and the Grinnell group
photocopied the coverage and sent it to colleges across
the United States, contributing to, if not
precipitating, the first mass student demonstration of
25,000 in Washington in February of 1962.
Peter's lecture is called
"Intention: The Only Force on Earth We Can Control." A
dessert reception in the second-floor lobby of the Joe
Rosenfield Center will follow. His memoir, "The
Rainman's Third Cure",
will be available for purchase at the reception.
view the video clip of Peter's acceptance speech
at the 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony,
visit the official Emmys web site and begin the
video at around 1:59 minutes.
September 23, 2015
will be at Perry Memorial Library in Henderson,
NC on Sunday, September 27th for a book signing at 2 pm.
In his newest book, "The
Rainman's Third Cure", he discusses people in
his life who shaped him. One significant influence was
Henderson resident Sue Howard Nelson, who raised him
until about the age of 13. He thinks of her as his
second mother. He will be reading and signing his books
in the Farm Bureau Room. A limited number of copies will
be available for sale the day of the program.
are a few more photos of our proud Coyote with his
previously posted, on September 24 and 26 Peter will
narrate Greensboro Symphony Orchestra
performances of Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait" and
music composed by Edvard Grieg for Henrik Ibsen's
dramatic poem, "Peer Gynt". Music Director Dmitry
Sitkovetsky, a longtime friend of Peter's, will conduct.
This marks Peter's second appearance with the orchestra.
In 2008, he narrated the premiere of a composition based
on the O. Henry short story, "The Gift of the Magi." The
following is an interview published by the Greensboro
News & Record of North Carolina.
What was it like to narrate “The Roosevelts?”
Coyote: I knew while I was doing “The Roosevelts” that
it was important. All of Ken Burns’ pieces have
resonance outside of their immediate subject matter.
“The National Parks” was about democracy and giving the
people what had once been reserved for kings, trenchant
at a time when “the people” are losing ground in every
dimension that makes their lives prosperous, secure and
“Prohibition” was resonant with the drug wars, an epic
failure of policy, repeating mistakes of the past. “The
Dust Bowl” was about our current environmental crisis as
much as it was about Oklahoma, and featured the same
boosterism, lies and ignorance of how nature works.
Finally, “The Roosevelts” for me was as much about
America’s hunger for honorable politicians serving the
interests of the people rather than the one-tenth of one
percent. We also just finished 18 hours on “Vietnam,”
which will appear in 2017, and the resonance there is
the Middle East. Ignore this one at your peril.
What do you enjoy about providing narration for
documentaries and for other purposes, such as “Lincoln
Portrait” with the Greensboro Symphony?
Coyote: Documentaries are mini-theses, some issue or
idea that someone is passionate enough about to raise
the difficult money and labor through the welter of
problems getting it made out of a deep desire to
communicate. Anytime someone does that, it is
interesting, and I learn something. Performing with
symphonies is a particular gas. The power of a full
symphony orchestra on stage is awesome. Also, it gives
my friend Dima Sitkovetsky and me a chance to play
(figuratively and literally) together, and we often
compare our calendars to see where our lives could
You and Dima performed “Lincoln Portrait” with the
Symphony Napa Valley in March. How did that come about?
Coyote: Dima proposed it to me, just as he proposed
“Peer Gynt” for this year. It seemed as if it would be
fun and challenging and a good opportunity to pull my
tux out of mothballs.
What is it like to read the narration for “Lincoln
Portrait,” with excerpts from the Gettysburg address and
other speeches? Do any excerpts from Lincoln’s speeches
particularly resonate with you?
Coyote: Lincoln was an extraordinary man and an unlikely
politician. He had great humor, much personal tragedy in
his life which made him human and approachable, and,
like many figures in an earlier age, was highly educated
and extraordinarily literate. But his management of the
slavery issue and the Congress was really quite
extraordinary, in a time as polarized as our own.
Reading Lincoln leaves me with a feeling that I’ve been
conversing with an exalted and highly spiritual being
who has disguised himself as an ordinary man.
How do you prepare for a narration such as this?
Coyote: My lifetime is the preparation. A lifetime of
reading and thinking, and 40 years of Zen practice —
just being present in the moment with Lincoln, feeling
what I’m feeling as I read, and everything else just
takes care of itself.
How about “Peer Gynt?” Have you ever narrated that
Coyote: No, I had never read “Peer Gynt” before. This
time, I am creating the narration, finding story points
and places in the text that are appropriate to the
scores that Dima has chosen. So this is much more of a
collaboration between us, where I get to bring more of
my creative skills to the table, not so easy to
accomplish with Dima in the realm of concert
performance, at which he is a master.
You will be reading at Scuppernong Books from your
memoir, which has received a lot of attention and good
reviews. Why did you decide to write a second memoir?
Coyote: It sounds so cheesy, doesn’t it, an actor
writing two memoirs? But really, neither is a me-me-me
story about myself. “Sleeping Where I Fall” was a study
of the 1960s and some of the extraordinary people and
issues at play there. It was about certain kinds of
suffering in the culture at that time, and it was also
an attempt to own those experiences and explain them for
my children myself, as opposed to being “interpreted” by
a Ph.D. student or an “expert” years later.
That book ended when I was about 40. Thirty years later,
I had rethought many of my conclusions and opinions, and
put my life into a longer perspective and I came to
realize how important mentors and teachers had always
been to me. So this “memoir” is really about other
people — my teachers — and it is about me only to the
degree that I have to show you how I learned their
lessons or didn’t.
Do you have a favorite part that you like to read to
Coyote: There’s a period about being in Mexico and
getting busted for marijuana that audiences seem to like
and laugh with a great deal, so that’s fun. There’s a
chapter about my black mother, an African American woman
who raised me for 11 years and taught me critical
lessons about what being white and black and finally
human was about.
Those two are favorites, and then there’s a section
about my Uncle Harry who was Frank Costello’s partner in
the slot machine business in Louisiana, a very powerful
and dangerous man. Those are three favorites.
What do you hope that your readers take away from
Coyote: I’d be delighted if anything I said might move
someone to begin to practice meditating, but that’s the
luck of the draw. Perhaps the fact that no one gets
where they are alone. We are all aided, educated,
inspired, helped, nurtured by others, and that taking
the credit for their work without sharing it is a form
Is there anything that I haven’t asked that is
important to you?
Coyote: Perhaps the most important thing to me these
days is my work as a Zen Buddhist priest; trying to
really be of use to people in a crazy, dangerous and
unbalanced world. It’s what gets me up in the morning.
September 21, 2015
October 25th at 2 pm, the Melanthium Ensemble will
perform a concert at the Throckmorton Theatre
in Mill Valley, CA. The concert will feature Peter
reading his poetry accompanied by the Ensemble, which
includes Craig Fry on violin, Fred Randolph on string
bass, Lew Richmond on piano and Jay Rizzetto on trumpet.
The Ensemble will also feature new works by Richmond. In
addition to poetry set to music, Peter will read other
new poems and talk about his many decades of devotion to
the poetic art. For more information and tickets,
visit the theatre web site.
September 12, 2015
has won an Emmy for narrator of the Ken Burns series,
"The Roosevelts: An Intimate History"! The 2015
Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony was held today at
Microsoft Theater in LA. He previously won an Emmy
in 1992 for his narration of "The Meiji Revolution", one
of ten episodes of the PBS series, "Pacific Century."
Congratulations! The show will be aired on FXX on
Saturday, September 19th at 8 pm and 10:30 pm.
August 24, 2015
Radio will present an evening with Peter on
Wednesday, October 14th at the First Congregational
Church in Berkeley. Hosted by Gaetano Kazuo Maida, the
event will begin at 7:30 pm at which time Peter will
discuss his latest book, "The
Rainman's Third Cure". Advance tickets are $12.
For more information, visit
brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006.
September 22 Peter will read from his new memoir at 6
p.m. at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, NC. He
will be in town to narrate the Greensboro Symphony
performances featuring soprano Emily Rose Siar,
scheduled for September 24 and 26. Following the book
reading, he will take questions from the audience on his
life and career. This event is part of Scuppernong's
Black Mountain College Festival, which runs Sept. 16 to
25. At 7:00 p.m. on the evening of Peter’s presentation,
there will be a panel discussion on the poets of Black
Mountain College. For more information, you can call
(336)373-7145 or email
August 13, 2015
conjunction with the publication of Peter's new book,
"The Rainman's Third Cure", here's an audio interview at
KPFA called "Peter Coyote: Actor, Activist and Zen
Priest". This interview was aired on July 1, 2015.
July 31, 2015
Fancher of the San Francisco Examiner published a
glowing review of Peter's new book in the 7/29 edition.
read the full review here.
Fancher writes, "The struggle between a spiritual
and a status-seeking life behind the lyrics in the Bob
Dylan song that inspired the memoir’s title might be
Coyote’s narcotic for life. But each time he climbs
another mountain to look at the terrain, he’s grown a
bit more lucid about the peaks and valleys — and
increasingly sage about their power."
July 29, 2015
On July 19th Peter was a guest of TNS Host Steve
Heilig discussing a wide ranger of topics including
his book, "The Rainman's Third Cure". Jonah Raskin
writes about this Commonweal event in Bolinas for Point
Reyes Light. The article is called, "Hello and
Goodbye to Peter Coyote" and you can read it
at this link.
Raskin says, "There's nothing like seeing and hearing
Coyote in person. A born performer, a great mimic and an
elder in the tribue of '60s veterans, he knows how to
hold himself, how to hold an audience and how to let go
and bring listeners along with him." I'll second that!
July 16, 2015
are on sale for the Native American Day Gala to
be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 18 at the
Highlands Senior Center, located at 3245 Bowers Road in
Clearlake, CA. The event will feature the world premiere
of “A Walk Through Time,” a 30-minute film about
the history of Lake County’s Anderson Marsh and the Koi
people who have lived at Anderson Marsh continuously for
over 14,000 years. The film also documents the community
effort that is still ongoing to keep this land’s beauty
and culture intact for future generations to enjoy.
Peter will attend and introduce the film. The
evening will also include Native American drumming and
dancing, and a talk by the noted local archaeologist,
John Parker. All proceeds will benefit the work of the
Koi Nation Cultural Protection Association and the
Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association (AMIA).
June 23 Peter participated in an interview regarding his
book with the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
That program will be aired on July 31st at 8 pm on KQED
Radio. You can also view the interview via youtube
at this link. It's called "Peter Coyote: On Zen,
Politics and an Amazing Life".
July 16, 2015
the Emmy nominations were announced and Peter has been
nominated for his narration of the Ken Burns PBS series
"The Roosevelts: An Intimate History"!!!
The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will be held in Los
Angeles on Sunday, September 20, 2015. Well done! As
many of you know, Peter previously won an Emmy in 1992
for his narration of "The Meiji Revolution", one of ten
episodes of the PBS series, "Pacific Century."
Read all about it here.
June 4, 2015
are a couple photos from Peter's reading at Readers
Books in Sonoma on May 28th. Today the Sonoma News
published an article that you can read
at this link.
June 1, 2015
the San Jose Mercury News published an article regarding
Peter's book, "The Rainman's Third Cure". You can
at this link.
For those in the San Francisco area, the following
book events will take place in the weeks ahead:
Bay Area Book Festival
An Hour with Peter Coyote
Brower Center's Goldman Theater
1644 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA
555 Post Street
San Francisco, CA
Commonweal, Bolinas, CA
551 Tamal Vista Boulevard
Corte Madera, CA
57 Post Street, Room 406
San Francisco, CA
2001, Winter 2002,
Winter 2003, Spring
Summer 2003, Fall 2003,
Winter 2004, Spring
Summer 2004, Fall 2004,
Winter 2006, Spring 2006,
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