From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wendell Berry at the Frankfort, Indiana Community Public Library, 4 November 2005
||August 5, 1934
Henry County, Kentucky
||Farmer, Writer, Academic
||Fiction, Poetry, Essays
||agriculture, rural life
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Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934, Henry County, Kentucky) is an American man of letters, academic, cultural and economic critic, and farmer. He is a prolific author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is also an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Berry is the first of four children born to John Berry, a lawyer and tobacco farmer in Henry County, and Virginia Berry. The families of both of his parents have farmed in Henry County for at least five generations. Berry attended secondary school at Millersburg Military Institute, then earned a B.A. and M.A. in English at the University of Kentucky, where in 1956 he met another Kentucky writer-to-be, Gurney Norman. In 1957, he completed his M.A. and married Tanya Amyx. In 1958, he attended Stanford University's creative writing program as a Wallace Stegner Fellow, studying under Stegner in a seminar that included Edward Abbey, Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, Ernest Gaines, Tillie Olsen, and Ken Kesey. Berry's first novel, Nathan Coulter, was published in April 1960. A Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship took Berry and his family to Italy and France in 1961, where he came to know Wallace Fowlie, critic and translator of French literature. From 1962 to 1964, he taught English at New York University's University College in the Bronx. In 1964, he began teaching creative writing at the University of Kentucky, from which he resigned in 1977. During this time in Lexington, he came to know author Guy Davenport, as well as author Thomas Merton and photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard.
In 1965, Berry moved to a farm he had purchased, Lane's Landing, and began growing corn and small grains on what eventually became a 125-acre homestead. Lane's Landing is near Port Royal, Kentucky, in north central Kentucky, and his parents' birthplaces, and is on the western bank of the Kentucky River, not far from where it flows into the Ohio River. Berry has farmed, resided, and written at Lane's Landing down to the present day. In the 1970s and early 1980s, he edited and wrote for the Rodale Press, including its publications Organic Gardening and Farming and The New Farm. From 1987 to 1993, he returned to the English Department of the University of Kentucky. Berry has written at least twenty-five books (or chapbooks) of poems, sixteen volumes of essays, and eleven novels and short story collections. His writing is grounded in the notion that one's work ought to be rooted in and responsive to one's place.
Berry has criticized Christian organizations for failing to challenge cultural complacency about environmental degradation, and has shown a willingness to criticize what he perceives as the arrogance of some Christians. Berry is a fellow of Britain's Temenos Academy, a learned society devoted to the study of all faiths and spiritual pursuits; Berry publishes frequently in the annual Temenos Academy Review, funded by the Prince of Wales.
His nonfiction serves as an extended conversation about the life he values. According to Berry, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. The threats Berry finds to this good life include: industrial farming and the industrialization of life, ignorance, hubris, greed, violence against others and against the natural world, the eroding topsoil in the United States, global economics, and environmental destruction. As a prominent defender of agrarian values, Berry's appreciation for traditional farming techniques, such as those of the Amish, grew in the 1970s, due in part to exchanges with Draft Horse Journal publisher Maurice Telleen. Berry has long been friendly to and supportive of Wes Jackson, believing that Jackson's agricultural research at The Land Institute lives out the promise of "solving for pattern" and using "nature as model."
The concept of "Solving for pattern", coined by Berry in his essay of the same title, is the process of finding solutions that solve multiple problems, while minimizing the creation of new problems. The essay was originally published in the Rodale Press periodical The New Farm. Though Mr. Berry's use of the phrase was in direct reference to agriculture, it has since come to enjoy broader use throughout the design community.
Berry's lyric poetry often appears as a contemporary eclogue, pastoral, or elegy; but he also composes dramatic and historical narratives (such as "Bringer of Water" and "July, 1773", respectively) and occasional and discursive poems ("Against the War in Vietnam" and "Some Further Words", respectively).
Berry's first published poetry book consisted of a single poem, the elegiac November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three (1964), initiated and illustrated by Ben Shahn, commemorating the death of John F. Kennedy. It begins,
The winter earth
Upon the body
Of the young
And the early dark
and continues through ten more stanzas (each propelled by the anaphora of "We know"). The elegiac here and elsewhere, according to Triggs, enables Berry to characterize the connections "that link past and future generations through their common working of the land." 
The first full-length collection, The Broken Ground (1964), develops many of Berry's fundamental concerns: "the cycle of life and death, responsiveness to place, pastoral subject matter, and recurring images of the Kentucky River and the hill farms of north-central Kentucky" 
According to Angyal, "There is little modernist formalism or postmodernist experimentation in [Berry's] verse." A commitment to the reality and primacy of the actual world stands behind these two rejections. In "Notes: Unspecializing Poetry," Berry writes, "Devotion to order that is not poetical prevents the specialization of poetry." He goes on to note, "Nothing exists for its own sake, but for a harmony greater than itself which includes it. A work of art, which accepts this condition, and exists upon its terms, honors the Creation, and so becomes a part of it" 
Lionel Basney placed Berry's poetry within a tradition of didactic poetry that stretches back to Horace: "To say that Berry's poetry can be didactic, then, means that it envisions a specific wisdom, and also the traditional sense of art and culture that gives art the task of teaching this wisdom" 
For Berry, poetry exists "at the center of a complex reminding" Both the poet and the reader are reminded of the poem's crafted language, of the poem's formal literary antecedents, of "what is remembered or ought to be remembered," and of "the formal integrity of other works, creatures and structures of the world." 
Berry's fiction to date consists of eight novels and thirty-two short stories (all but ten of which are collected in That Distant Land, 2004) which, when read as a whole, form a chronicle of the fictional small Kentucky town of Port William. Because of his long-term, ongoing exploration of the life of an imagined place, Berry has been compared to William Faulkner. Yet, although Port William is no stranger to murder, suicide, alcoholism, and the full range of losses that touch human lives, it lacks the extremes of characterization and plot development that are found in much of Faulkner. Hence Berry is sometimes described as working in an idealized, pastoral, or nostalgic mode, a characterization of his work which he resists: "If your work includes a criticism of history, which mine certainly does, you can't be accused of wanting to go back to something, because you're saying that what we were wasn't good enough." 
The effect of profound shifts in the agricultural practices of the United States, and the disappearance of traditional agrarian life, are some of the major concerns of the Port William fiction, though the theme is often only a background or subtext to the stories themselves. The Port William fiction attempts to portray, on a local scale, what "a human economy ... conducted with reverence" looked like in the past—and what civic, domestic, and personal virtues might be evoked by such an economy were it pursued today. Social as well as seasonal changes mark the passage of time. The Port William stories allow Berry to explore the human dimensions of the decline of the family farm and farm community, under the influence of expanding post-World War II agribusiness. But these works rarely fall into simple didacticism, and are never merely tales of decline. Each is grounded in a realistic depiction of character and community. In A Place on Earth (1967), for example, farmer Mat Feltner comes to terms with the loss of his only son, Virgil. In the course of the novel, we see how not only Mat but the entire community wrestles with the acute costs of World War II.
Berry's fiction also allows him to explore the literal and metaphorical implications of marriage as that which binds individuals, families, and communities to each other and to Nature itself—yet not all of Port William is happily or conventionally married. "Old Jack" Beechum struggles with significant incompatibilities with his wife, and with a brief yet fulfilling extramarital affair. The barber Jayber Crow lives with a forlorn, secret, and unrequited love for a woman, believing himself "mentally" married to her even though she knows nothing about it. Burley Coulter never formalizes his bond with Kate Helen Branch, the mother of his son. Yet, each of these men find themselves firmly bound up in the community, the "membership," of Port William.
Berry's novel, Hannah Coulter (2004), presents a concise vision of Port William's "membership." The story encompasses Hannah's life, including the Great Depression, World War II, the post-war industrialization of agriculture, the flight of youth to urban employment, and the consequent remoteness of grandchildren. The tale is told in the voice of an old woman twice widowed, who has experienced much loss yet has never been defeated. Somehow, lying at the center of her strength is the "membership"—the fact that people care for each other and, even in absence, hold each other in a kind of presence. All in all, Hannah Coulter embodies many of the themes of Berry's Port William saga.
- Andy Catlett: Early Travels. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2006.
- That Distant Land: The Collected Stories. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004.
- Fidelity: Five Stories. New York: Pantheon, 1992.
- Hannah Coulter. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard. 2004.
- Jayber Crow. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000.
- The Memory of Old Jack. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich 1974. (revised Counterpoint 2001).
- Nathan Coulter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960 (revised North Point, 1985).
- A Place on Earth. Boston: Harcourt, Brace, 1967 (revised North Point,1983; Counterpoint, 2001).
- Remembering. San Francisco: North Point, 1988.
- Three Short Novels (Nathan Coulter, Remembering, A World Lost). Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2002.
- Watch With Me and Six Other Stories of the Yet-Remembered Ptolemy Proudfoot and His Wife, Miss Minnie, Née Quinch. New York: Pantheon, 1994.
- Whitefoot: A Story from the Center of the World. Berkeley: Counterpoint. 2009. Available online as "Whitefoot", Orion Magazine. January/February 2007.
- The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership. San Francisco: North Point , 1986.
- A World Lost. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1996.
- "Andy Catlett: Early Education". The Threepenny Review. Spring 2009.
- "A Burden". Oxford American, Issue 66, August 2009, p66-70, 5p.
- "Burley Coulter's Fortunate Fall". Sewanee Review, Spring 2008, Vol 116 Issue 2, p264-273, 10p.
- "A Desirable Woman". Hudson Review, Summer 2008, Vol 61 Issue 2, p295-314, 20p.
- "The Dark Country". Sewanee Review, Spring 2009, Vol 117 Issue 2, pp. 163-180.
- "Fly Away, Breath". The Threepenny Review. Spring 2008 and New Stories from the South: The Year's Best - 2009. Chapel Hill: Algonquin. 2009.
- "Mike". The Sewanee Review. Winter 2005 and New Stories from the South: The Year's Best - 2006. Chapel Hill: Algonquin. 2006.
- "Misery". Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review, Winter 2008, Vol 58, Number 3, p111 ff.
- "A Place in Time: Some Chapters of a Telling Story". Hudson Review, Summer 2009, Vol 62 Issue 2, pp. 217-238.
- "The Requirement". Harper's Magazine. March 2007.
- "Stand By Me". The Atlantic. August 2008.
- Another Turn of the Crank. Washington, D. C.: Counterpoint, 1996.
- The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Ed. Norman Wirzba. Washington, D. C.: Counterpoint, 2002.
- Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005.
- Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2009.
- Citizenship Papers. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2003.
- A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural & Agricultural. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1972 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004).
- Descendants and Ancestors of Captain James W. Berry, with Laura Berry. Bowling Green, KY: Hub, 1990.
- The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural. San Francisco: North Point, 1981 (Counterpoint, 2009).
- Grace, Photographs of Rural America, 2000 with Gregory Spaid and Gene Logsdon
- Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work. Lexington, Kentucky: U P of Kentucky, 1990.
- The Hidden Wound. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970.
- Home Economics: Fourteen Essays. San Francisco: North Point, 1987 (Counterpoint, 2009).
- Imagination in Place. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010.
- In the Presence of Fear: Three Essays for a Changed World. Barrington, MA: Orion, 2001.
- Life Is a Miracle.Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000.
- The Long-Legged House. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1969 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004).
- Meeting the Expectations of the Land: Essays in Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship, 1984 editor with Wes Jackson and Bruce Colman
- Recollected Essays: 1965-1980. San Francisco: North Point, 1981.
- Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. New York: Pantheon, 1992.
- Standing by Words. San Francisco: North Point, 1983 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005).
- Tobacco Harvest: An Elegy. Photographs by James Baker Hall. Lexington, Kentucky: U P of Kentucky, 2004.
- The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge. Photographs by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. U P Kentucky, 1971. Revised North Point, 1991. Reissued and revised Shoemaker & Hoard, 2006.
- The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1977; Avon Books, 1978; Sierra Club, 1986.
- The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005. essays
- What Are People For? New York: North Point, 1990.
- The Broken Ground. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1964.
- Clearing. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1977.
- The Collected Poems, 1957-1982. San Francisco: North Point, 1985.
- The Country of Marriage. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.
- An Eastward Look. Berkeley, California: Sand Dollar, 1974.
- Entries. New York: Pantheon, 1994 (reprint Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1997).
- The Farm. Monterey, Kentucky: Larkspur, 1995.
- Farming: A Hand Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970.
- Given: New Poems. Washington D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard. 2005.
- Leavings. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010.
- The Mad Farmer Poems. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2008.
- November twenty six nineteen hundred sixty three. New York: Braziller, 1964.
- Openings. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1968.
- A Part. San Francisco: North Point, 1980.
- Sabbaths: Poems. San Francisco: North Point, 1987.
- Sabbaths 2002. Monterey, Kentucky: Larkspur, 2004.
- Sabbaths 2006. Monterey, Kentucky: Larkspur, 2008.
- Sayings and Doings. Lexington, Kentucky: Gnomon, 1975.
- The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999.
- A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998.
- Traveling at Home. Press Alley, 1988; North Point 1989.
- The Wheel. San Francisco, North Point, 1982.
- Window Poems. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007.
- Beattie, L. Elisabeth (Editor). "Wendell Berry" in Conversations With Kentucky Writers, U P of Kentucky, 1996.
- Berger, Rose Marie. "Wendell Berry interview complete text," Sojourner's Magazine, July 2004 
- Fisher-Smith, Jordan. "Field Observations: An Interview with Wendell Berry'" 
- Grubbs, Morris Allen (Editor). Conversations with Wendell Berry, U P of Mississippi, 2007.
- Minick, Jim. "A Citizen and a Native:An Interview with Wendell Berry" Appalachian Journal, Vol. 31, Nos 3-4, (Spring-Summer, 2004)
- Weinreb, Mindy. "A Question a Day: A Written Conversation with Wendell Berry" in Merchant
- Brockman, Holly. "How can a family ‘live at the center of its own attention?’ Wendell Berry’s thoughts on the good life", January/February 2006 
- Smith, Peter. "Wendell Berry's still unsettled in his ways." The Courier-Journal, Sept. 30, 2007, A1.
- 'Wendell Berry: A conversation,' The Diane Rehm Show. WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, November 30, 2009. 
Forewords, Introductions, Prefaces, and Afterwords
- Driftwood Valley: A Woman Naturalist in the Northern Wilderness by Theodora C. Stanwell-Fletcher. Oregon State U P, 1999.
- Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation by Gary Paul Nabhan. U of Arizona P, 2002.
- God and Work: Aspects of Art and Tradition by Brian Keeble. World Wisdom Books, 2009.
- Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's Journal by David Kline. Wooster Book Company, 2001.
- James Archambeault's Historic Kentucky by James Archambeault. U P of Kentucky, 2006.
- Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight by Norman Wirzba. Brazos P, 2006.
- Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness by Erik Reece. Riverhead, 2006.
- The Man Who Created Paradise by Gene Logsdon. Ohio U P, 2001.
- Missing Mountains edited by Kristin Johannsen and others. Wind Publications, 2005.
- My Mercy Encompasses All: The Koran's Teachings on Compassion, Peace and Love by Reza Shah-Kazemi. Counterpoint, 2007.
- The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka. NYRB Classics, 2009.
- The Pattern of a Man & Other Stories by James Still. Gnomon P, 2001.
- Pedestrian Photographs by Larry Merrill. U of Rochester P, 2008.
- Ralph Eugene Meatyard by Arnold Gassan. Gnomon P, 1970.
- Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible by Ellen F. Davis. Cambridge U P, 2008.
- Soil And Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture by Albert Howard. U P of Kentucky, 2007.
- To a Young Writer by Wallace Stegner. Red Butte P, 2009.
- The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water by Sim Van der Ryn. Ecological Design Press, 1978.
- Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith. Island P, 1987.
- Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape by David T. Hanson. Aperture, 1997.
- We All Live Downstream: Writings About Mountaintop Removal edited by Jason Howard. Motes Books, 2009.
Works on Berry
- Angyal, Andrew. Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne, 1995.
- Bonzo, J. Matthew and Michael R. Stevens. Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life: A Reader's Guide. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2008.
- Goodrich, Janet. The Unforeseen Self in the Works of Wendell Berry. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2001.
- Merchant, Paul, ed. Wendell Berry (American Authors Series). Lewiston, Idaho: Confluence, 1991.
- Peters, Jason, ed. Wendell Berry: Life and Work. Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 2007.
- Shuman, Joel James and Owens, L. Roger (eds). Wendell Berry and Religion: Heaven's Earthly Life. Lexington: U P of Kentucky, 2009.
- Smith, Kimberly K. Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace. Lawrence: U P of Kansas, 2003.
- ^ http://community.berea.edu/appalachianheritage/issues/summer2005/conversation.html
- ^ Menand, Louis (2009-01-07). Show or Tell: A Critic at Large: The New Yorker. The New Yorker<!. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/06/08/090608crat_atlarge_menand?currentPage=4. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- ^ a b Angyal, Andrew. Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne, 1995, 139 ISBN 0805746285
- ^ Davenport, Guy. "Tom and Gene" in Father Louie: Photographs of Thomas Merton by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. New York: Timken, 1991.
- ^ Angyal, Andrew. Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne, 1995, ISBN 0805746285
- ^ The Quivira Coalition’s 6th Annual Conference, conference bulletin, page 14
- ^ Berry, Wendell. "Christianity and the Survival of Creation". Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. New York: Pantheon, 1993
- ^ "Well, Christendom is all right, but it doesn't have to exclude everybody else. It doesn't have to go to war against them. And it doesn't have to be so stupid as to condemn other faiths that it doesn't know anything about." in Rose Marie Berger, "Heaven in Henry County: A Sojourner Interview with Wendell Berry."
- ^ "Key Individuals of The Temenos Academy". Temenosacademy.org. http://www.temenosacademy.org/temenos_key_individuals.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- ^ Berry, Wendell, The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural. San Francisco: North Point, 1981, ISBN 0-86547-052-9
- ^ Orr, David. "The Designer's Challenge" (commencement address to the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, on May 14, 2007) The Designer's Challenge
- ^ Luoni, Stephen. "Solving for Pattern: Development of Place-Building Design Models"
- ^ Farming: A Hand Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970.
- ^ A Part. San Francisco: North Point, 1980.
- ^ Openings. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1968.
- ^ Given: New Poems. Washington D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard. 2005.
- ^ Triggs, Jeffery. "Moving the Dark to Wholeness." 1988.
- ^ Angyal, Andrew. Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne, 1995, 119. ISBN 0805746285.
- ^ Angyal, Andrew. Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne, 1995, 116
- ^ Berry, Wendell. Standing by Words. San Francisco: North Point, 1983, 80.
- ^ Berry, Wendell. Standing by Words. San Francisco: North Point, 1983, 85.
- ^ Basney, Lionel. 175. "Five Notes on the Didactic Tradition, in Praise of Wendell Berry" in Paul Merchant, editor. Wendell Berry (American Authors Series). Lewiston, Idaho: Confluence, 1991. 174-183.
- ^ Berry, Wendell. "The Responsibility of the Poet." What Are People For? New York: North Point, 1990. 88.
- ^ Berry, Wendell. "The Responsibility of the Poet." What Are People For? New York: North Point, 1990. 89.
- ^ Goodrich, Janet. The Unforeseen Self in the Works of Wendell Berry. U of Missouri P, 2001. 21.
- ^ Fisher-Smith, Jordan. "Field Observations: An Interview with Wendell Berry".
- ^ Cochrane, Willard Wesley. The Development of American Agriculture: A Historical Analysis. U of Minnesota P, 1993. 122-149.
- ^ Berry, Wendell. "Imagination in Place." The Way of Ignorance. Washington, D. C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005. 50.
- ^ Merchant, Paul, ed. Wendell Berry (American Authors Series). Lewiston, Idaho: Confluence, 1991.
- ^ http://wamu.org/programs/dr/09/11/30.php#29162
- ^ "The Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry - The Sewanee Review". Sewanee.edu. http://www.sewanee.edu/sewanee_review/aiken_taylor. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
- ^ "Forlimpopoli: arriva il poeta americano Wendell Berry". Romagnaoggi.it. 2007-10-24. http://www.romagnaoggi.it/forli/2009/2/11/115515/. Retrieved 2009-07-13.