About this poet

Poet, essayist, farmer, and novelist Wendell Berry was born on August 5, 1934, in New Castle, Kentucky. He attended the University of Kentucky at Lexington where he received a BA in English in 1956 and an MA in 1957.

Berry is the author of more than thirty books of poetry, essays, and novels. His collections of poetry include: Given (Shoemaker Hoard, 2005), A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997 (Counterpoint, 1997), Entries: Poems (1994), Traveling at Home (1989), The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (1988), Collected Poems 1957-1982 (1985), Clearing (1977), There Is Singing Around Me (1976), and The Broken Ground (1964).

His novels include A World Lost (1996), Remembering (1988), and The Memory of Old Jack. Berry is also the author of prose collections including The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture (Counterpoint, 2004), Another Turn of the Crank (1995), Sex, Economy, Freedom, & Community (1993), Standing on Earth: Selected Essays (1991), and A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural and Agricultural (1972).

About his work, a reviewer for the Christian Science Monitor wrote: "Berry's poems shine with the gentle wisdom of a craftsman who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and wonder life."

He has taught at New York University and at the University of Kentucky. Among his honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, a Lannan Foundation Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Wendell Berry lives on a farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.

 

Kentucky River Junction

Wendell Berry, 1934

to Ken Kesey & Ken Babbs

Clumsy at first, fitting together
the years we have been apart,
and the ways.

But as the night
passed and the day came, the first
fine morning of April,

it came clear:
the world that has tried us
and showed us its joy

was our bond
when we said nothing.
And we allowed it to be

with us, the new green
shining.

          *

Our lives, half gone,
stay full of laughter.

Free-hearted men
have the world for words.

Though we have been
apart, we have been together.

          *

Trying to sleep, I cannot
take my mind away.
The bright day

shines in my head
like a coin
on the bed of a stream.

          *

You left
your welcome.

From Collected Poems: 1957-1982 by Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1985 by Wendell Berry. Used by permission of Counterpoint Press. All rights reserved.

From Collected Poems: 1957-1982 by Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1985 by Wendell Berry. Used by permission of Counterpoint Press. All rights reserved.

Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry

Poet, essayist, farmer, and novelist Wendell Berry was born on August 5,