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Nick Offerman is thankful for Wendell Berry

I would like to offer my gratitude for the writing of Kentucky agrarian, Wendell Berry. His essays, poetry and fiction have fertilized a crop of great solace in my life, and helped to breed a healthy flock of good manners, to boot. As I travel this unlikely road of opportunity, as a woodworker and writer, sure, but most often as a jackass, I have his writings upon which to fix my mind and my heart, to keep my life’s errant wagon between the ditches, as it were.

Read more at Time

On Wendell Berry and others at FPR conference

One elderly gentleman sat with his wife near the back of the auditorium, wearing glasses and a tweed blazer. It was only after the speakers began that I saw him there, his notebook and pen at the ready. It was Wendell Berry, the conference’s keynote speaker. I’ve not seen many keynoters show up early for conferences—and I’ve never seen one sit through the several hours of lectures before and after his speech. Yet there Berry sat: the award-winning author, poet, environmentalist, farmer, and critic, listening to speakers talk about the importance of tending to place and building community. Throughout the day testimony to Berry’s work was significant—several speakers referenced his poems and his novels Hannah Coulter and Jayber Crow. When his time came to speak, Berry told us, “I keep living to see things I’ve never expected to see. This is very moving for me.”

Read more at Front Porch Revoution ... and check out the energetic comments on that post.


A visit to Port Royal, KY ... but not Wendell Berry

On Sunday we drove out to Port Royal, Kentucky, a well-known little town because of one of its inhabitants, agrarian Wendell Berry. He’s oft-quoted here at Texas Schmexas, and a lot of other places these days, so I’m sure you recognize the name. I promise you, however, that Mr. Berry was not the reason for our drive (though I am pleased to have seen “the long-legged house” with my own eyes).

Port Royal is in Henry County, a little over an hour from here with nary an interstate between us–lots of tobacco, though, hanging in old black barns decorated with colorful quilt squares (and “Mail Pouch Tobacco”) painted on the side, and fuzzy brown cows, and trees getting ready for winter, and a smattering of houses masquerading as towns.

Read more at Texas Schmexas

Another approach to Wendell Berry's view of marriage

A few weeks ago, back when I was a more productive blogger, I wrote about what I thought was an unjustified appropriation of a phrase from poet-farmer Wendell Berry by two opponents of gay marriage, Anthony Esolen and his book-reviewer Matthew J. Franck. Berry, I pointed out, came out in favor of gay marriage just last year, and I quoted Fred Clark’s insistence that the gesture was “wholly of a piece with everything else the man has written and argued and defended.”

Today I want to spend some time justifying that statement. I do it because I don’t really like the culture war (believe it or not) and I’m fascinated by those rare figures—like Dorothy Day, Walker Percy and (sometimes) Pope Francis—embraced in equal measure by both sides. Berry is one of those figures. You’re as likely to see him quoted by Emily Stimpson as by Fred Clark, by Casey Fleming as by Rod Dreher.

I promise I’m not trying to claim Berry for my side of the war. I’m doing it because I think figures like Berry, Day, etc. present a unique opportunity to talk across that divide. When, for example, Jake Meador accuses Berry of changing his mind on marriage or Stimpson (more preposterously) suggests that Berry just hasn’t thought enough about marriage, well, I think there are things in his writing that they’re missing. And maybe they’ll listen to him if they won’t listen to me.

Read on at Letters to the Catholic Right

Wendell Berry's "Terrapin" reviewed by a boy

Owen and I sat down on two different occasions in the last week to read Terrapin; the first was on a Saturday, and the second was in the evening on a school day. Our Saturday session went more smoothly than the school day one, mostly because he was tired at the end of a long day of work. Our plan was simple: I asked him to begin with the cover and to move to the first poem, observing as he went. When we got to the first illustration and poem, I asked him to read each poem aloud, after which we would discuss what he thought of the poem and illustration together. Owen has never read poetry that isn’t singsongy and childish—so I was surprised when he was able, with almost no help, to read through the poems in the collection with ease (below we’ve included three recordings of Owen reading); he did not hesitate at the frequent enjambments and only needed help when he came to the few words he did not know—a testament to the clarity of each poem’s content and the appropriateness of the vocabulary level throughout.

Read (and hear) it all at Front Porch Republic

Wendell Berry's "Whitefoot" Reviewed

It’s a small story, a nature story, told without any anthropomorphism. The extent of Whitefoot’s thoughts are instinctual: “Nest! Nest!” or “Seeds! Seeds!” There are no tea and blackberries for supper or charming waistcoats in this tale. It’s a story tracing the very realistic adventures of a tiny creature. In that regard, it is a rare specimen in literature for young children. Comprised of quiet adventure and woodland lore and wonder, it shines its light on the overlooked, unsentimental, non-technological,  dramas of Nature.

Read more at Orange Marmalade