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February 2009
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Blog Watch: Blaming WB

To (saw)Dust you shall return « Restoring Shalom.

To be certain, there is nothing like the smell of saw dust on you clothes and in your hair at the end of a day. It fills me with a sense of accomplishment, as though I did something meaningful by using my hands, working with wood. I don’t feel more like a “man” because of it, but I feel more human, more aware of the creation that I’m a part of. And I blame it on Lent and Wendell Berry. READ MORE ...

A profile of Food Democracy Now

With Food Democracy Now, Iowan Dave Murphy Is Challenging Corporate Farming -

The first campaign by Murphy's nonprofit group, Food Democracy Now, was a petition calling for more sustainable food policies and suggesting six progressive candidates for secretary of agriculture last November. After the secretary was appointed, he added a list of 12 candidates for key deputy and undersecretary positions. To date, two of the so-called sustainable dozen have received key appointments. Kathleen Merrigan, a professor at Tufts University who helped develop national organic standards, was appointed deputy secretary. Doug O'Brien, an assistant director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, will be Merrigan's chief of staff.

"It's hard to tweak out what impact [the petition] made and on whom, but it certainly got a lot of attention," said Neil Hamilton, director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University in Des Moines, one of the six candidates suggested by the petition and an informal adviser to the USDA. If nothing else, Hamilton said, the Obama administration would have had some explaining to do if no progressive candidates had even been considered. READ MORE ...

A brief review of Whitefoot New in children's books.

WHITEFOOT: A STORY FROM THE CENTER OF THE WORLD By Wendell Berry, illustrated by Davis Te Selle, Counterpoint, 60 pages, $28.50, ages 6 and up

This small jewel of a book, with its exquisite pencil drawings, begins thusly: "Her name was Peromyscus leucopus, but she did not know it. I think it had been a long time since the mice around Port William spoke English, let alone Latin. Her language was the dialect of mouse, a tongue for which we humans have never developed a vocabulary or grammar. Because I don't know her name in Mouse, I will call her Whitefoot."

In simple but elegant prose, Wendell Berry carries his readers into his Story from the Centre of the World and into the very heart of Whitefoot's circumscribed, one-acre world as she eats, sleeps, nests and endures days of torrential rain that wash her out of her world and into a river in flood.

A fine tension is held: Will she survive, her temporary home a knothole in a floating log carried along by the flood waters?

Blog Watch: Reflections on two works

Mindy Withrow » by and about Wendell Berry.

If you’ve read anything of Berry’s, you understand what Bonzo and Stevens are trying to get at. Berry has been both an inspirational and a controversial figure because he reviles the exploitation of both people and natural resources, but without suggesting easy answers; he forces his readers to think deeply and critically about nuanced responsibility. For example, he suggests that pristine wilderness is not the only alternative to exploitation; cultivation can be both faithful and sustainable if we properly understand creation to be “central to the connection between wild and cultivated.” As another example, Berry insists that place or community of origin is a vital element of spiritual well-being, and yet, rather than require us to “return to the house of our childhood” (as Berry did when he gave up academia to take over the family farm in Kentucky), he forces us to ask how “we enact the obligations of community and home in the place where we find ourselves.” READ MORE ...

Wendell Berry's Most Popular Poem?

Out of curiosity, in a very quick and thoroughly unscientific study, I thought I would set Mr. Berry's two most widely cited poems against each other—to see which would come out on top (according to Google, The Great Sorter of All Digitally Webbed Things ... quack).

And so ...

"The Peace of Wild Things"
"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front"

turns out to be both close and not so close.

A search for "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front"  produces 329 non-redundant results "of about 2,000" ... while a search for "The Peace of Wild Things" produces 394 non-redundant results "of about 18,800."

Since multiple searches within a ten-minute period for the identical terms produced various numerical outcomes, Google gets the raspberries. But since the results remained proportionally almost the same, we should "in all fairness" (this phrase always kills me) hand the laurel crown to "The Peace of Wild Things" ... unless, of course, you can afford the wasted time it will take to produce some other result.

WB poem on jazz cd

Jay Clayton | The Peace of Wild Things.

Innovative singer Jay Clayton has forged a career out of taking chances and exploring the possibilities inherent in the human voice. The Peace of Wild Things is a subtly adventurous mix of voice, electronics and poetry. Each of the nine songs features a poem; five are by the renowned poet E.E. Cummings, with others by jazz innovator Jeanne Lee, the farmer-poet Wendell Berry, Lara Pellegrinelli and Clayton herself. READ MORE ...

New Kentucky Laureate

University of Kentucky News --

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 13, 2009) − The Kentucky Arts Council announced today that Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed Gurney Norman, director of the University of Kentucky Creative Writing Program, as Kentucky Poet Laureate for a two-year honorary term. Norman will be formally inducted on Kentucky Writers' Day at 11 a.m. Friday, April 24, 2009, in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Norman succeeds 2007 - 2009 Kentucky Poet Laureate Jane Gentry Vance, who is a professor in the UK Department of English and the Honors Program.

Geoff Wells on WB

For your consideration, what appears to be an ongoing thread of introduction to and reflection upon WB.

From Bio and CV

Dr Geoff Wells is an internationally experienced corporate and education leader and advisor. After doctoral work in social science and business experience in Australia, he worked for 15 years, through the 80’s and 90’s, in the United States.

From Wendell Berry in modern times (part 1

Although he doesn’t frame it in quite this way, the perennial question that occupies Wendell Berry is how to farm sustainably.  It is characteristic of his insight that he understands this question as inseparable from the wider question of how to live sustainably; that is, the question of what makes up a fully human life, and how it is to be built into the life of farms and of farming communities.  In the light of the current perception of a gathering crisis in global food security it is an analysis that could hardly be more relevant; no less relevant is his wider analysis of the nature of sustainable living to the challenge of climate change.   Here then are some of the ways of thinking and guiding principles he has developed across the decades of a life’s work. READ MORE ...

Wendell Berry in modern times (part 1)

Wendell Berry in modern times (part 2)

Wendell Berry in modern times (part 3)


ESSAY | Lessons in Neighborliness | New Southerner Online.

I have been keenly aware of the benefits toward neighborliness that the replacement of a single, nearly universal modem technology has wrought. Several years ago, after reading Wendell Berry’s essay, “A Good Scythe,” I purchased my first hickory snath and Austrian grass-cutting blade. I have used this scythe most often along the length of the roadside ditch in front of our home and barns. Last year, for the first time, I used it and a long-handled, wooden-tined rake to cut, windrow and stack loose hay for our horses and Angora goats. READ MORE ...