Review Essays Of The Art Of Commonplace

About Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba

WENDELL BERRY is the author of more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and essays. He was recently awarded the National Humanities Medal, the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Louis Bromfield Society Award. He lives and works in his native Kentucky with his wife, Tanya Berry, and their children and grandchildren.

NORMAN WIRZBA is an associate professor of philosophy at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. The recipient of several awards and grants, his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals. He is the author of The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age (Oxford University Press) and editor of The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land (University Press of Kentucky). He lives in Kentucky with his wife and four young children.


“Wendell Berry speaks as well as anyone of what is genuine, what is creative, what is ennobling.” —Washington Post

“[Berry’s words] shine with the gentle wisdom of a craftsman who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and wonders of life.” —Christian Science Monitor

“Berry is a philosopher, poet, novelist and an essayist in the tradition of Emerson and Thoreau . . . like Thoreau, he marches to a different drummer, a drummer we would do well to be aware of, if not to march to.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“The best serious essayist now at work in the United States.” —Edward Abbey, author of Hayduke Lives 

Wendell Berry The prolific poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry is a fifth-generation native of north central Kentucky. Berry taught at Stanford University; traveled to Italy and France on a Guggenheim Fellowship; and taught at New York University and the University of Kentucky, Lexington, before moving to Henry County. Berry owns and operates Lanes Landing Farm, a small, hilly piece of property on the Kentucky River. He embraced full-time farming as a career, using horses and organic methods to tend the land. Harmony with nature in general, and the farming tradition in particular, is a central theme of Berry's diverse work. As a poet, Berry gained popularity within the literary community. Collected Poems, 1957-1982, was particularly well-received. Novels and short stories set in Port William, a fictional town paralleling his real-life home town of Port Royal further established his literary reputation. The Memory of Old Jack, Berry's third novel, received Chicago's Friends of American Writers Award for 1975. Berry reached his broadest audience and attained his greatest popular acclaim through his essays. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture is a springboard for contemporary environmental concerns. In his life as well as his art, Berry has advocated a responsible, contextual relationship with individuals in a local, agrarian economy.

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