America's most eloquent and prolific defender of traditional rural life and small-scale farming. -- Helena Norberg-Hodge
It is possible, as I have learned again and again, to be in one's place, in such company, wild or domestic, and with such pleasure, that one cannot think of another place that one would prefer to be - or of another place at all. -- Wendell Berry
A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a 'killing'. It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance. -- Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry (1934- ), American poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher and farmer.
Born, 5 August 1934, Henry County, Kentucky, where he still lives and farms on the family farm at Port Kentucky, alongside the Kentucky River, not far from where it flows into the Ohio.
A close friend of fellow poet and environmentalist Gary Snyder. Berry shares with Snyder a deep sense of place and community. In A Part (1980), a collection of mainly short poems, one of the poems is entitled 'Gary Snyder'. In Snyder's Axe Handles (1983), several of the poems refer directly or indirectly to Berry.
Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. He has developed 17 rules for the healthy functioning of sustainable local communities. The underlying principles could be described as 'the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities':
Berry and his family have been in the same place for two centuries, as reflected in the fragments taken from 'The Gathering', published in the The Country of Marriage (1973):
At my age my father held me on his arm like a hooded bird and his father held him so .... . . . . . . . . My son will know me in himself when his son sits hooded on his arm and I have grown to be brother to all my fathers, memory speaking to knowledge finally, in my bones.
In 'What I have Learned', Snyder continues the dialogue of the generations of father to son in 'The Gathering'.
Berry is a strong critic of big business, the damage wrought by coal extraction in the mountain counties of eastern Kentucky, broken countryside, broken people; the 'rape and run' logging companies in Montana, entire forests liquidated; agribusiness, polluted streams, soil and air, destroyed farms and rural communities. In 'History', Collected Poems 1957-1982 (1985), he attacks the predators who run the country:
The land bears the scars of minds whose history was imprinted by no example of forebearing mind, corrected beloved.
The poetry reflects family, community and natural cycles.
November Twenty-Six, Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Three (1964) is the collection that brought Berry national attention and recognition. The date is imprinted on every American mind, the day President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.
Wendell is Professor of English at Kentucky State University, where he himself once studied.
Wendell Berry, November Twenty-Six, Nineteen Hundred Sixty-Three, Braziller, 1964
Wendell Berry, The Broken Ground, Harcourt Brace, 1964
Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound, Houghton Mifflin, 1970
Wendell Berry, The Unseen Wilderness, University Press of Kentucky, 1971
Wendell Berry, The Country of Marriage, Harcourt Brace, 1973
Wendell Berry, A Continuous Harmony, Harcourt Brace, 1975
Wendell Berry, Kentucky River, Larkspur Press, 1976
Wendell Berry, There Is a Singing Around Me, Cold Mountain Press, 1976
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America (3rd edition), Sierra Club Books, 1977
Wendell Berry, A Part, North Point Press, 1980
Wendell Berry, Standing By Words, 1983
Wendell Berry, Collected Poems 1957-1982, North Point Press, 1985
Wendell Berry, Landscape of Harmony, Five Seasons, 1987
Wendell Berry, Home Economics: Fourteen Essays, North Point, 1987
Wendell Berry, The Work of Local Culture, Iowa Humanities Board, 1988
Wendell Berry, What Are People For?, North Point, 1990
Wendell Berry, The Discovery of Kentucky, Gnomon Press, 1991
Wendell Berry, Standing on Earth, Golgonooza, 1991
Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, Pantheon Books, 1992
Wendell Berry, Another Turn of the Crank, Counterpoint, 1995
Wendell Berry, Conserving Communities [in Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith (eds), The Case Against the Global Economy, Sierra Club Books, 1996]
Wendell Berry, The Death of the Rural Community, The Ecologist, May/June 1999
Wendell Berry, The Politics of Community, The Ecologist, May/June 1999
Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson & Bruce Colman (eds), Meeting the Expectations of the Land, North Point Press, 1984
Thomas Riggs (ed), Contemporary Poets, St James Press, 1996
Gary Snyder, Axe Handles, North Point, 1983