Wendell Berry

Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer.[1] He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.[2] On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.[3]

Wendell Berry
Berry in December 2011
Born (1934-08-05) August 5, 1934
Henry County, Kentucky, U.S.
OccupationPoet, farmer, writer, activist, academic
EducationUniversity of Kentucky (B.A, 1956; M.A., 1957)
GenreFiction, poetry, essays
SubjectAgriculture, rural life, community


Berry was the first of four children to be born to John Marshall Berry, a lawyer and tobacco farmer in Henry County, Kentucky, and Virginia Erdman Berry. The families of both parents had farmed in Henry County for at least five generations. Berry attended secondary school at Millersburg Military Institute and then earned a B.A. (1956) and M.A. (1957) in English at the University of Kentucky.[4]:990–991 In 1956, at the University of Kentucky he met another Kentucky writer-to-be, Gurney Norman.[5] He completed his M.A. and married Tanya Amyx in 1957. In 1958, he attended Stanford University's creative writing program as a Wallace Stegner Fellow, studying under Stegner in a seminar that included Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, Ernest Gaines, Tillie Olsen, and Ken Kesey.[6][7]:139 Berry's first novel, Nathan Coulter, was published in April 1960.

A John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship took Berry and his family to Italy and France in 1961, where he came to know Wallace Fowlie, critic and translator of French literature. From 1962 to 1964, he taught English at New York University's University Heights campus in the Bronx. In 1964, he began teaching creative writing at the University of Kentucky, from which he resigned in 1977.[7] During this time in Lexington, he came to know author Guy Davenport, as well as author and monk Thomas Merton and photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard.[8]

On July 4, 1965, Berry, his wife, and his two children moved to a farm that he had purchased, Lane's Landing, and began growing corn and small grains on what eventually became a homestead of about 117 acres (0.47 km2).[4]:994 They bought their first flock of seven Border Cheviot sheep in 1978.[4]:998 Lane's Landing is in Henry County, Kentucky in north central Kentucky near Port Royal, and his parents' birthplaces, and is on the western bank of the Kentucky River, not far from where it flows into the Ohio River. Berry has farmed, resided, and written at Lane's Landing ever since. He has written about his early experiences on the land and about his decision to return to it in essays such as "The Long-Legged House" and "A Native Hill."[9]

From 1977 until 1980, he edited and wrote for the Rodale Press, including its publications Organic Gardening and Farming and The New Farm.[4]:998 From 1987 to 1993, he returned to the English Department of the University of Kentucky.[7][10] Berry has written at least twenty-five books (or chapbooks) of poems, sixteen volumes of essays, and eleven novels and short story collections. His writing is grounded in the notion that one's work ought to be rooted in and responsive to one's place.

Berry, who describes himself as "a person who takes the Gospel seriously,"[11] has criticized Christian organizations for failing to challenge cultural complacency about environmental degradation,[12][13] and has shown a willingness to criticize what he perceives as the arrogance of some Christians.[14] He is an advocate of Christian pacifism, as shown in his book Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings About Love, Compassion and Forgiveness (2005).

Berry is a fellow of Britain's Temenos Academy, a learned society devoted to the study of all faiths and spiritual pursuits; Berry publishes frequently in the annual Temenos Academy Review, funded by the Prince of Wales.[15]


On February 10, 1968, Berry delivered "A Statement Against the War in Vietnam" during the Kentucky Conference on the War and the Draft at the University of Kentucky in Lexington:[16]

We seek to preserve peace by fighting a war, or to advance freedom by subsidizing dictatorships, or to 'win the hearts and minds of the people' by poisoning their crops and burning their villages and confining them in concentration camps; we seek to uphold the 'truth' of our cause with lies, or to answer conscientious dissent with threats and slurs and intimidations. . . . I have come to the realization that I can no longer imagine a war that I would believe to be either useful or necessary. I would be against any war.[17]

On June 3, 1979, Berry engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience against the construction of a nuclear power plant at Marble Hill, Indiana. He describes "this nearly eventless event" and expands upon his reasons for it in the essay "The Reactor and the Garden."[18]

On February 9, 2003, Berry's essay titled "A Citizen's Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States" was published as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times. Berry opened the essay—a critique of the G. W. Bush administration's post-9/11 international strategy[19]—by asserting that "The new National Security Strategy published by the White House in September 2002, if carried out, would amount to a radical revision of the political character of our nation."[20]

On January 4, 2009, Berry and Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute, published an op-ed article in The New York Times titled "A 50-Year Farm Bill."[21] In July 2009 Berry, Jackson and Fred Kirschenmann, of The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, gathered in Washington DC to promote this idea.[22] Berry and Jackson wrote, "We need a 50-year farm bill that addresses forthrightly the problems of soil loss and degradation, toxic pollution, fossil-fuel dependency and the destruction of rural communities."[21]

Also in January 2009, Berry released a statement against the death penalty, which began, "As I am made deeply uncomfortable by the taking of a human life before birth, I am also made deeply uncomfortable by the taking of a human life after birth."[23] And in November 2009, Berry and 38 other writers from Kentucky wrote to Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway asking them to impose a moratorium on the death penalty in that state.[24]

On March 2, 2009, Berry joined over 2,000 others in non-violently blocking the gates to a coal-fired power plant in Washington, D.C. No one was arrested.[25]

On May 22, 2009, Berry, at a listening session in Louisville, spoke against the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).[26] He said, "If you impose this program on the small farmers, who are already overburdened, you're going to have to send the police for me. I'm 75 years old. I've about completed my responsibilities to my family. I'll lose very little in going to jail in opposition to your program – and I'll have to do it. Because I will be, in every way that I can conceive of, a non-cooperator."[27]

In October 2009, Berry combined with "the Berea-based Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), along with several other non-profit organizations and rural electric co-op members" to petition against and protest the construction of a coal-burning power plant in Clark County, Kentucky.[28] On February 28, 2011, the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved the cancellation of this power plant.[29]

On December 20, 2009, due to the University of Kentucky's close association with coal interests in the state, Berry removed his papers from the university. He explained to the Lexington Herald-Leader, "I don't think the University of Kentucky can be so ostentatiously friendly to the coal industry … and still be a friend to me and the interests for which I have stood for the last 45 years. … If they love the coal industry that much, I have to cancel my friendship."[30] In August 2012, the papers were donated to The Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, KY.[31]

On September 28, 2010, Berry participated in a rally in Louisville during an EPA hearing on how to manage coal ash. Berry said, "The EPA knows that coal ash is poison. We ask it only to believe in its own findings on this issue, and do its duty."[32]

Berry, with 14 other protesters, spent the weekend of February 12, 2011 locked in the Kentucky governor's office to demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. He was part of the environmental group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth that began their sit-in on Friday and left at midday Monday to join about 1,000 others in a mass outdoor rally.[33][34]

In 2011, The Berry Center was established at New Castle, Kentucky, "for the purpose of bringing focus, knowledge and cohesiveness to the work of changing our ruinous industrial agriculture system into a system and culture that uses nature as the standard, accepts no permanent damage to the ecosphere, and takes into consideration human health in local communities."[35]


Berry's nonfiction serves as an extended conversation about the life he values. According to him, the good life includes sustainable agriculture,[36] appropriate technologies,[37] healthy rural communities,[38] connection to place,[39] the pleasures of good food,[40] husbandry,[41] good work,[42] local economics,[43] the miracle of life,[44] fidelity,[45] frugality,[46] reverence,[47] and the interconnectedness of life.[48] The threats Berry finds to this good simple life include: industrial farming and the industrialization of life,[49] ignorance,[50] hubris,[51] greed,[52] violence against others and against the natural world,[53] the eroding topsoil in the United States,[54] global economics,[55] and environmental destruction.[56] As a prominent defender of agrarian values, Berry's appreciation for traditional farming techniques,[57] such as those of the Amish, grew in the 1970s, due in part to exchanges with Draft Horse Journal publisher Maurice Telleen.[58] Berry has long been friendly to and supportive of Wes Jackson, believing that Jackson's agricultural research at The Land Institute lives out the promise of "solving for pattern" and using "nature as model."

Jedediah Britton-Purdy has considered many of Berry's major themes and concerns:

Over the years, he has called himself an agrarian, a pacifist, and a Christian—albeit of an eccentric kind. He has written against all forms of violence and destruction—of land, communities, and human beings—and argued that the modern American way of life is a skein of violence. He is an anti-capitalist moralist and a writer of praise for what he admires: the quiet, mostly uncelebrated labor and affection that keep the world whole and might still redeem it. He is also an acerbic critic of what he dislikes, particularly modern individualism, and his emphasis on family and marriage and his ambivalence toward abortion mark him as an outsider to the left.[59]

The concept of "Solving for pattern", coined by Berry in his essay of the same title, is the process of finding solutions that solve multiple problems, while minimizing the creation of new problems.[60] The essay was originally published in the Rodale Press periodical The New Farm. Though Mr. Berry's use of the phrase was in direct reference to agriculture, it has since come to enjoy broader use throughout the design community.[61][62]

Berry's core ideas, and in particular his poem "Sabbaths III, 1989 (Santa Clara Valley)," guided the 2007 documentary feature film The Unforeseen, produced by Terrence Malick and Robert Redford.[63][64] In the film Berry narrates his own poem.[65] Director Laura Dunn went on to make the 2016 documentary feature Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, again produced by Malick and Redford.[66]


Berry's lyric poetry often appears as a contemporary eclogue, pastoral, or elegy; but he also composes dramatic and historical narratives (such as "Bringer of Water"[67] and "July, 1773",[68] respectively) and occasional and discursive poems ("Against the War in Vietnam"[69] and "Some Further Words",[70] respectively).

Berry's first published poetry book consisted of a single poem, the elegiac November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three (1964), initiated and illustrated by Ben Shahn, commemorating the death of John F. Kennedy. It begins,

We know
The winter earth
Upon the body
Of the young
   And the early dark

and continues through ten more stanzas (each propelled by the anaphora of "We know"). The elegiac here and elsewhere, according to Triggs, enables Berry to characterize the connections "that link past and future generations through their common working of the land."[71]

The first full-length collection, The Broken Ground (1964), develops many of Berry's fundamental concerns: "the cycle of life and death, responsiveness to place, pastoral subject matter, and recurring images of the Kentucky River and the hill farms of north-central Kentucky"[7]:119

According to Angyal, "There is little modernist formalism or postmodernist experimentation in [Berry's] verse."[7]:116 A commitment to the reality and primacy of the actual world stands behind these two rejections. In "Notes: Unspecializing Poetry," Berry writes, "Devotion to order that is not poetical prevents the specialization of poetry."[72] He goes on to note, "Nothing exists for its own sake, but for a harmony greater than itself which includes it. A work of art, which accepts this condition, and exists upon its terms, honors the Creation, and so becomes a part of it" [73]

Lionel Basney placed Berry's poetry within a tradition of didactic poetry that stretches back to Horace: "To say that Berry's poetry can be didactic, then, means that it envisions a specific wisdom, and also the traditional sense of art and culture that gives art the task of teaching this wisdom"[74]

For Berry, poetry exists "at the center of a complex reminding"[75] Both the poet and the reader are reminded of the poem's crafted language, of the poem's formal literary antecedents, of "what is remembered or ought to be remembered," and of "the formal integrity of other works, creatures and structures of the world.".[76]

The Sabbath Poems

From 1979 to the present Berry has been writing what he calls "Sabbath poems." They were first collected in A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997. This was followed by Sabbaths from 1998 to 2004 in Given: New Poems; and those from 2005 to 2008 are in Leavings. All Sabbath poems through 2012 are published in This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems 1979 - 2012. Sabbaths 2013 has been published by Larkspur Press. A Small Porch contains nine Sabbath poems from 2014 and sixteen from 2015. One Sabbath poem, "What Passes, What Remains" (VIII from 2016), is published as the epilogue in The Art of Loading Brush. That poem, along with fourteen others, can also be found in Sabbaths 2016, published by Larkspur Press.

The poems are motivated by Berry's longtime habit of walking out onto the land on Sunday mornings. As he puts it, "I go free from the tasks and intentions of my workdays, and so my mind becomes hospitable to unintended thoughts: to what I am very willing to call inspiration."[77] He writes in a poem from 1979,

The bell calls in the town
Where forebears cleared the shaded land
And brought high daylight down
To shine on field and trodden road.
I hear, but understand
Contrarily, and walk into the woods.
I leave labor and load,
Take up a different story.
I keep an inventory
Of wonders and of uncommercial goods.[78]

The Sabbath poems have been described as "written from a particular place and on particular Sabbaths, and so should be read as part of a spiritual practice and as poems, in some sense, devoted to dwelling, to living thoughtfully in one place."[79] Oehlschlaeger links Berry's project to a key observation by Henry David Thoreau,

As Thoreau continues in 'Life Without Principle,' he notes the constant busyness of Americans, so engaged in 'infinite bustle' that 'there is no sabbath.' And he notes later that 'there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.' The logic is clear: destruction of the Sabbath is contrary to 'life itself.' That, I suggest, is the context in which we should read the Sabbath poems that Berry has been writing for nearly the last thirty years.[80]


Berry's fiction to date consists of eight novels and fifty-one short stories (forty-three of which are collected in That Distant Land, 2004 and A Place in Time, 2012) which, when read as a whole, form a chronicle of the fictional small Kentucky town of Port William. Because of his long-term, ongoing exploration of the life of an imagined place, Berry has been compared to William Faulkner.[81] Yet, although Port William is no stranger to murder, suicide, alcoholism, marital discord, and the full range of losses that touch human lives, it lacks the extremes of characterization and plot development that are found in much of Faulkner. Hence Berry is sometimes described as working in an idealized, pastoral, or nostalgic mode, a characterization of his work which he resists: "If your work includes a criticism of history, which mine certainly does, you can't be accused of wanting to go back to something, because you're saying that what we were wasn't good enough." [82]

The effect of profound shifts in the agricultural practices of the United States, and the disappearance of traditional agrarian life,[83] are some of the major concerns of the Port William fiction, though the theme is often only a background or subtext to the stories themselves. The Port William fiction attempts to portray, on a local scale, what "a human economy … conducted with reverence"[84] looked like in the past—and what civic, domestic, and personal virtues might be evoked by such an economy were it pursued today. Social as well as seasonal changes mark the passage of time. The Port William stories allow Berry to explore the human dimensions of the decline of the family farm and farm community, under the influence of expanding post-World War II agribusiness. But these works rarely fall into simple didacticism, and are never merely tales of decline. Each is grounded in a realistic depiction of character and community. In A Place on Earth (1967), for example, farmer Mat Feltner comes to terms with the loss of his only son, Virgil. In the course of the novel, we see how not only Mat but the entire community wrestles with the acute costs of World War II.

Berry's fiction also allows him to explore the literal and metaphorical implications of marriage as that which binds individuals, families, and communities to each other and to Nature itself—yet not all of Port William is happily or conventionally married. "Old Jack" Beechum struggles with significant incompatibilities with his wife, and with a brief yet fulfilling extramarital affair. The barber Jayber Crow lives with a forlorn, secret, and unrequited love for a woman, believing himself "mentally" married to her even though she knows nothing about it. Burley Coulter never formalizes his bond with Kate Helen Branch, the mother of his son. Yet, each of these men find themselves firmly bound up in the community, the "membership," of Port William.

Of his fictional project, Berry has written: "I have made the imagined town of Port William, its neighborhood and membership, in an attempt to honor the actual place where I have lived. By means of the imagined place, over the last fifty years, I have learned to see my native landscape and neighborhood as a place unique in the world, a work of God, possessed of an inherent sanctity that mocks any human valuation that can be put upon it."[85] Elsewhere, Berry has said, "The only thing I try to accomplish in fiction is to show how people act when they love each other."[86] The novels and stories can be read in any order.

In January, 2018, the Library of America published a volume of Berry's fiction—the first of a projected four volumes of his writing. Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories (The Civil War to World War II) contains four novels and twenty-three short stories in chronological order according to the stories' events.[87] Berry and Joan Didion are the only living writers currently featured in the Library of America catalog.[88]

Nathan Coulter (1960)

In Berry's first novel, young Nathan "comes of age" through dealing with the death of his mother, the depression of his father, Jarrat, the rugged companionship of his brother Tom, and the mischief of his uncle Burley. Kirkus Review concludes, "A sensitive adolescent theme is handled rather poetically, but so uniform in tone that no drama is generated and no sense of time passing is felt."[89] John Ditsky finds William Faulkner's influence in Nathan Coulter, but notes, "Not only does the work avoid the pitfalls encountered by Faulkner's initial attempts to escape his postage stamp of native soil, but Nathan Coulter also seems a wise attempt to get that autobiographical first novel out of one's system, and to do so [with] honesty."[90]

A Place on Earth (1967/1983)

Set in the critical year of 1945, this novel focuses on farmer Mat Feltner's struggle over the news that his son Virgil has been listed as missing in action while also telling multiple tales of the lives of other Port William residents, such as Burley Coulter, Jack Beechum, Ernest Finley, Ida and Gideon Crop. Reprinting by North Point Press in 1983 allowed Berry to radically revise the novel,[91] removing almost a third of its original length. Jeffrey Bilbro believes that these substantial changes marked growth in Berry's approach. "In Berry's revised edition, his technique caught up with his subject. He allows us, as readers, to participate in the ignorance of his characters, and in doing so, we may be able to understand more fully the painful difficulty of choosing fidelity to the natural order while living in the midst of mystery." [92]

The Memory of Old Jack (1974)

This third novel of Port William begins with Jack Beechum as a very old man in 1952 and continues back into his youth and maturity to uncover his life and work as a dedicated farmer, conflicted husband, and living link to past generations. The story ranges from the Civil War to just past World War II. Josh Hurst comments on Berry's ability to avoid certain narrative pitfalls, "Jack's story could be presented us either as heroic ballad or as cautionary [tale]—and there is much in his life to support both admiration and gentle tisk-tisking—but the gift of this book is how it allows a man's memories to wash over us as though unshaped by narrative or conscious editorializing." [93]

Remembering (1988)

In Berry's fourth novel, an adult Andy Catlett wanders through San Francisco remembering, but feeling alienated from, his native Port William. He struggles to come to terms with himself, his marriage, his farm, and the distorted values of American society. Of Berry's vision here, Charles Solomon writes, "Wendell Berry contrasts modern American agribusiness--which he depicts as an artificial conglomeration of sterile flow charts, debts and mechanization--with the older ideal of farming as a nurturing way of life."[94] But along these lines, Bruce Bawer finds a problem with the novel, "Here, for the first time in a Port William novel, Berry seems more interested in communicating opinions than in portraying sympathetic characters in plausible situations; the opening episode, set at a conference on agricultural policy, paints the ideological conflict between Andy and his adversaries in broad, unsubtle strokes." [95]

A World Lost (1996)

Young Andy Catlett's uncle Andrew had been murdered back in 1944, and now an adult Andy is reconstructing the event and its aftermath. "Looking back with a mixture of a young boy's incomprehension and an older man's nostalgia, Andy evokes the past not as a narrative but as a series of disembodied fragments in the flow of time."[96] In this fifth novel of Port William, Berry considers the violence of men and its impact on the family and community that must come to terms with it. "Berry shows us the psychic costs of misplaced family pride and social rigidity, and yet he also celebrates the benevolent blessing of familial love. This is simple, soul-satisfying storytelling, augmented by understated humor and quiet insight."[97]

Jayber Crow (2000)

Port William's barber recounts his life's journey in Berry's sixth novel. Jayber's early life as an orphan near Port William is followed by studies towards a possible vocation to Church ministry. A questioning mind, however, sends him in other directions until he finds himself back in Port William with an ever-growing commitment to that place and its people. As Publisher's Weekly notes, "Crow's life, which begins as WWI is about to erupt, is emblematic of a century of upheaval, and Berry's anecdotal and episodic tale sounds a challenge to contemporary notions of progress. It is to Berry's credit that a novel so freighted with ideas and ideology manages to project such warmth and luminosity."[98]

Hannah Coulter (2004)

Berry's seventh novel presents a concise vision of Port William's "membership." The story encompasses Hannah's life, including the Great Depression, World War II, the postwar industrialization of agriculture, the flight of youth to urban employment, and the consequent remoteness of grandchildren. The tale is told in the voice of an old woman twice widowed, who has experienced much loss yet has never been defeated. Somehow, lying at the center of her strength is the "membership"—the fact that people care for each other and, even in absence, hold each other in a kind of presence. All in all, Hannah Coulter embodies many of the themes of Berry's Port William saga.

Andy Catlett: Early Travels (2006)

Andy Catlett, age nine, makes his first solo journey to visit with both sets of grandparents in Port William. The New York Times reviewer notes, "What the grown-up Andy recalls of that experience is transformed into 'a sort of homage' to a now-vanished world. Title characters from Berry's earlier Port William volumes — Jayber Crow, Old Jack, Hannah Coulter — appear here in affectionate cameos as the adult Andy, echoing Wordsworth, observes that 'in my memory, all who were there ... seem now to be gathered into a love that is at once a boy's and an aging man's.'"[99]


AwardYearGranting InstitutionNotes
Wallace Stegner Fellowship1958Stanford University[7]:13
Guggenheim Fellowship1961John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation[7]:16
Rockefeller Fellowship1965The Rockefeller Foundation[7]:22
Arts and Letters Award1971American Academy of Arts and Letters[100]
Poets' Prize2000Nicholas Roerich Museum
Thomas Merton Award1999Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Social Justice[101]
Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry1994The Sewanee Review and the University of the South[102]
Art of Fact Award2006SUNY Brockport Writers Forum and M&T Bank[103]
Kentuckian of the Year2005Kentucky Monthly[104]
Premio Artusi2008La Città di Forlimpopoli[105]
The Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement2009Fellowship of Southern Writers[106]
The Louis Bromfield Society Award2009Malabar Farm Foundation and Ohio Department of Natural Resources[107]
The National Humanities Medal2010National Endowment for the Humanities[108]
The 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities2012National Endowment for the Humanities[109]
The Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award2012Tulsa Library Trust[110]
Russell Kirk Paideia Prize2012Circe Institute[111]
Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences2013American Academy of Arts and Sciences[112]
The Roosevelt Institute's Freedom Medal2013The Roosevelt Institute[113]
The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award2013Dayton Literary Peace Prize[114]
The Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion2013American Academy of Religion[115]
The Allen Tate Poetry Prize2014The Sewanee Review[116]
The Dean's Cross for Servant Leadership in Church and Society2014Virginia Theological Seminary[117]
Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame2015The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning[118]
The American Food and Farming Award2015The Center for Food Safety[119]
Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award2016National Book Critics Circle[120]
The Sidney Lanier Prize2016Center for Southern Studies at Mercer University[121]
IACP Trailblazer2017International Association of Culinary Professionals[122]
UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement1993University of Kentucky Libraries[123]
Kentucky Humanities Carl West Literary Award2019Kentucky Humanities Council[124]



Nathan Coulter1960Houghton Mifflin, BostonNorth Point (1985), Counterpoint (2008)1582434093Also in Three Short Novels, 2002

Heavily revised in 1985, including the removal of the last four chapters.

A Place on Earth1967Harcourt, Brace & World, New YorkAvon (1969), North Point (1983), Counterpoint (2001)1582431248Heavily revised in 1983
The Memory of Old Jack1974Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, New YorkCounterpoint (1999)1582430438
The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership1986North Point, San Francisco0865472165Also in That Distant Land: The Collected Stories, 2004
Remembering1988North Point, San FranciscoCounterpoint (2008)1582434158Also in Three Short Novels, 2002
Fidelity: Five Stories1992Pantheon, New York0679748318Also in That Distant Land: The Collected Stories, 2004
Watch With Me and Six Other Stories of the Yet-Remembered Ptolemy Proudfoot and His Wife, Miss Minnie, Née Quinch1994Pantheon, New York0679758542Also in That Distant Land: The Collected Stories, 2004
A World Lost1996Counterpoint, Washington, DC1582434182Also in Three Short Novels, 2002
Jayber Crow2000Counterpoint, Washington, DC1582431604
Three Short Novels (Nathan Coulter, Remembering, A World Lost)2002Counterpoint, Washington, DC1582431787
Hannah Coulter2004Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DCCounterpoint, Berkeley (2007)1593760361In 2007 Shoemaker & Hoard became part of Counterpoint LLC, Berkeley, CA
That Distant Land: The Collected Stories2004Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DCCounterpoint, Berkeley (2007)159376054XIn 2007 Shoemaker & Hoard became part of Counterpoint LLC, Berkeley, CA
Andy Catlett: Early Travels2006Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DCCounterpoint, Berkeley (2007)1593761646 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.In 2007 Shoemaker & Hoard became part of Counterpoint LLC, Berkeley, CA
Whitefoot: A Story from the Center of the World2009Counterpoint, Berkeley1582436401Available online as "Whitefoot", Orion Magazine. January/February 2007
A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership2012Counterpoint, Berkeley1619021889
The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings2017Counterpoint, Berkeley1619020382 Parameter error in {{ISBN}}: Invalid ISBN.Preface by Maurice Telleen; three essays (plus a substantial introduction); four short stories; one poem
Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories, The Civil War to World War II2018Library of America, New York1598535544Edited by Jack Shoemaker; twenty-three stories and four novels
Down in the Valley Where the Green Grass Grows2019Allen Lane0241388619aka Stand By Me

Uncollected short stories

  • "Nothing Living Lives Alone". The Threepenny Review. Spring 2011. PEN/O. Henry Prize Story, 2012 [125]
  • "Dismemberment". The Threepenny Review. Summer 2015.
  • "One Nearly Perfect Day" Sewanee Review. Summer 2015.
  • "How It Went" Sewanee Review. Summer 2016.
  • "A Clearing" The Hudson Review. Autumn 2018.
  • "The Great Interruption: The Story of a Famous Story of Old Port William and How It Ceased to be Told (1935-1978)" The Threepenny Review. Fall 2018. (A discussion of this story can be found on Front Porch Republic.)


The Long-Legged House1969Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; New YorkShoemaker & Hoard (2004), Counterpoint (2012)1619020017 (2012)
The Hidden Wound1970Houghton MifflinCounterpoint (2010)1582434867
The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge1971University Press of Kentucky; LexingtonNorth Point (1991), Shoemaker & Hoard (2006)1593760922Photographs by Ralph Eugene Meatyard
A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural & Agricultural1972Harcourt, Brace; New YorkShoemaker & Hoard (2004), Counterpoint (2012)1593760922
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture1977Sierra Club, San FranciscoAvon Books (1978), Sierra Club/Counterpoint (third edition, 1996)0871568772
The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural1981North Point, San FranciscoCounterpoint (2009)1582434840
Recollected Essays: 1965–19801981North Point, San Francisco086547026X
Standing by Words1983North Point, San FranciscoShoemaker & Hoard (2005), Counterpoint (2011)1582437459
Meeting the Expectations of the Land: Essays in Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship1986North Point, San Francisco086547172XEditor with Wes Jackson and Bruce Colman
Home Economics: Fourteen Essays1987North Point, San FranciscoCounterpoint (2009)1582434859
Descendants and Ancestors of Captain James W. Berry1990Hub, Bowling Green, KYWith Laura Berry
Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work1990University Press of Kentucky0813109426
What Are People For?1990North Point, San FranciscoCounterpoint (2010)1582434875
Standing on Earth: Selected Essays1991Golgonooza Press, UK0903880466
Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community1992Pantheon, New York0679756515
The Farm1995Gray Zeitz (Larkspur Press, Monterey, Kentucky)Counterpoint (2018)9781640090958 (2018)
Another Turn of the Crank1996Counterpoint, Washington, DC1887178287
Grace: Photographs of Rural America2000Safe Harbor Books, New London, NH0966579836Photographs by Gregory Spaid, essay by Gene Logsdon, story by Wendell Berry
Life Is a Miracle2000Counterpoint, Washington, DC1582431418
In the Presence of Fear: Three Essays for a Changed World2001Orion, Great Barrington, MA0913098604
The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry2002Counterpoint, Washington, DC1582431469
Citizens Dissent: Security, Morality, and Leadership in an Age of Terror2003Orion, Great Barrington, MA0913098620With David James Duncan. Foreword by Laurie Lane-Zucker
Citizenship Papers2003Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DCCounterpoint (2014)1619024470
Tobacco Harvest: An Elegy2004University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY0813123275Photographs by James Baker Hall
Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness2005Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC1593761007
The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays2005Shoemaker & HoardCounterpoint (2006)1593761198
Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food2009Counterpoint, Berkeley158243543X
Imagination in Place2010Counterpoint, Berkeley1582437068
What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth2010Counterpoint, Berkeley1582436061
The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford2011Counterpoint, Berkeley1582437149
It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays2012Counterpoint, Berkeley1619021145
Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder2014Counterpoint, Berkeley1619023059
Our Only World: Ten Essays2015Counterpoint, Berkeley1619024888
The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings2017Counterpoint, Berkeley1619020386Preface by Maurice Telleen; three essays (plus a substantial introduction); four short stories; one poem
The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry2018Counterpoint, Berkeley1640090282Thirty-one essays selected and introduced by Paul Kingsnorth; first published in 2017 in the UK by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books
Wendell Berry: Essays 1969-19902019Library of America, New York1598536060The Unsettling of America and thirty-two essays selected by Jack Shoemaker
Wendell Berry: Essays 1993-20172019Library of America, New York1598536087Life Is A Miracle and forty-two essays selected by Jack Shoemaker

Uncollected essays


The Broken Ground1964Harcourt Brace & World, New York
November twenty six nineteen hundred sixty three1964Braziller, New YorkArt by Ben Shahn
Openings1968Harcourt Brace & World, New York0156700123
Farming: A Hand Book1970Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New YorkCounterpoint, Berkeley (2011)1582437637
The Country of Marriage1973Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New YorkCounterpoint, Berkeley (2013)1619021080
An Eastward Look1974Sand Dollar, Berkeley
Sayings and Doings1974Gnomon, Lexington, KY0917788036
Clearing1977Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York0151181500
A Part1980North Point, San Francisco0865470081
The Wheel1982North Point, San Francisco0865470782
The Collected Poems: 1957–19821985North Point, San Francisco0865471975
Sabbaths: Poems1987North Point, San Francisco0865472904
Traveling at Home1988The Press of Appletree Alley, Lewisburg PANorth Point (1989)1582437645
Entries1994Pantheon, New YorkCounterpoint, Washington DC (1997)1887178376
The Farm1995Larkspur, Monterey KYCounterpoint, Berkeley (2018)Illustrations by Carolyn Whitesel
A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979–19971998Counterpoint, Washington DC1582430063Later included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013
The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry1999Counterpoint, Washington DC1582430373
The Gift of Gravity, Selected Poems, 1968–20002002Golgonooza Press, UK
Sabbaths 20022004Larkspur, Monterey KYLater included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013
Given: New Poems2005Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington DCCounterpoint, Berkeley (2006)1593760612Partially included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013
Window Poems2007Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington DC1582436231Originally published in Openings (1968)
The Mad Farmer Poems2008Counterpoint, Berkeley161902277XOriginally published in Farming: A Handbook, The Country of Marriage, A Part, and Entries
Sabbaths 20062008Larkspur, Monterey KYLater included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013
Leavings2010Counterpoint, Berkeley158243624XPartially included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013
Sabbaths 20092011Sewanee Review, Spring 2011Later included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013
New Collected Poems2012Counterpoint, Berkeley1582438153
This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–20132013Counterpoint, Berkeley1619021986
Terrapin and Other Poems2014Counterpoint, Berkeley161902425XIllustrated by Tom Pohrt
Sabbaths 20132015Larkspur, Monterey, KYWood engravings by Wesley Bates
A Small Porch2016Counterpoint, Berkeley1619026162Sabbath Poems 2014 and 2015 together with "The Presence of Nature in the Natural World: A Long Conversation" (also later included in The Art of Loading Brush)
Roots To The Earth2016Counterpoint, Berkeley1619027800Eight previously published poems and one uncollected short story ("The Branch Way of Doing"), accompanied by wood engravings by Wesley Bates. This is the trade edition (with the added short story and engravings) of the 2014 Larkspur Press edition, based on the 1995 West Meadow Press portfolio.
Sabbaths 20162018Larkspur, Monterey, KY"What Passes, What Remans" (2016, VIII) is also to be found in The Art of Loading Brush. Wood engravings by Wesley Bates.


  • Beattie, L. Elisabeth (Editor). "Wendell Berry" in Conversations With Kentucky Writers, University Press of Kentucky, 1996.
  • Berger, Rose Marie. "Wendell Berry interview complete text," Sojourner's Magazine, July 2004 [127]
  • Fisher-Smith, Jordan. "Field Observations: An Interview with Wendell Berry'" [128]
  • Grubbs, Morris Allen (Editor). Conversations with Wendell Berry, University Press of Mississippi, 2007. ISBN 1578069920
  • hooks, bell. "Healing Talk: A Conversation" in "Belonging: A Culture of Place", 2009, Routledge.
  • Lehrer, Brian. The Brian Lehrer Show WYNC, October 17, 2013 [129]
  • Leonard, Sarah. "Nature as an Ally" Dissent, Vol. 59, No. 2, Spring, 2012
  • Minick, Jim. "A Citizen and a Native: An Interview with Wendell Berry" Appalachian Journal, Vol. 31, Nos 3–4, (Spring-Summer, 2004)[130]
  • Weinreb, Mindy. "A Question a Day: A Written Conversation with Wendell Berry" in Merchant[131]
  • Brockman, Holly. "How can a family 'live at the center of its own attention?' Wendell Berry's thoughts on the good life", January/February 2006 [132]
  • Smith, Peter. "Wendell Berry's still unsettled in his ways." The Courier-Journal, September 30, 2007, A1.
  • "Wendell Berry: A conversation," The Diane Rehm Show. WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, November 30, 2009.[133]
  • "Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet," Moyers & Company. PBS. October 4, 2013.[134]
  • "Wendell Berry, Burkean" Interview with Gracy Olmstead. The American Conservative, February 17, 2015.[135]

Forewords, introductions, prefaces, and afterwords

Aldo Leopold: His Life and WorkMeine, Curt D.2010University of Wisconsin Press9780299249045
At Nature's Pace: Farming and the American DreamLogsdon, Gene1994Pantheon9780679427414
Wendell Berry and Higher Education: Cultivating Virtues of PlaceBaker, Jack R. and Jeffrey Bilbro2017University Press of Kentucky978081316902
The Caudills of the Cumberlands: Anne's Story of Life with HarryCummins, Terry2013Butler Books9781935497684
Driftwood Valley: A Woman Naturalist in the Northern WildernessStanwell-Fletcher, Theodora C.1999Oregon State University Press9780870715242
Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant ConservationNabhan, Gary Paul2002University of Arizona Press9780816522590
God and Work: Aspects of Art and TraditionKeeble, Brian2009World Wisdom Books9781933316680
Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's JournalKline, David2001The Wooster Book Company9781888683226
The Holy EarthBailey, Liberty Hyde2015Counterpoint9781619025875
Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural WorldKeogh, Martin (ed.)2010North Atlantic Books9781556439193
James Archambeault's Historic KentuckyArchambeault, James2006University Press of Kentucky9780813124209
Kentucky's Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to BiodiversityAbernathy, Greg (ed.)2010University Press of Kentucky9780813125756
Letter to a Young Farmer: How to Live Richly without Wealth on the New Garden FarmLogsdon, Gene2017Chelsea Green Pub.9781603587259
Letters from Larksong: An Amish Naturalist Explores His Organic FarmKline, David2010Wooster Book Co.9781590982013
Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and DelightWirzba, Norman2006Brazos Press9781587431654
Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing WildernessReece, Erik2006Riverbed9781594482366
The Man Who Created ParadiseLogsdon, Gene2001Ohio University Press9780821414071
The Meat You Eat: How Corporate Farming Has Endangered America's Food SupplyMidriff, Ken2005St. Martin's Griffin9780312325367
Missing MountainsJohansen, Kristin (ed.)2005Wind Publications9781893239494
My Mercy Encompasses All: The Koran's Teachings on Compassion, Peace and LoveShah-Kazemi, Reza2007Counterpoint9781593761448
Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes JacksonJackson, Wes2011Counterpoint9781582437002
The One-Straw RevolutionFukuoka, Masanobu2009NYRB Classics9781590173138
The Pattern of a Man & Other StoriesStill, James2001Gnomon Press9780917788758
Pedestrian PhotographsMerrill, Larry2008University of Rochester Press9781580462907
The Prince's Speech: On the Future of FoodHRH The Prince of Wales2012Rodale Press9781609614713
Ralph Eugene MeatyardGassan, Arnold1970Gnomon PressASIN: B001GECZNY
Round of a Country Year: A Farmer's Day BookKline, David2017Counterpoint9781619029248
Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the BibleDavis, Ellen F.2008Cambridge University Press9780521732239
Soil And Health: A Study of Organic AgricultureHoward, Albert2007University Press of Kentucky9780813191713
Stone Walls: Personal BoundariesCook, Mariana2011Damiani9788862081696
That Wondrous Pattern: Essays on Poetry and PoetsRaine, Kathleen2017Counterpoint9781619029231
The Embattled Wilderness: The Natural and Human History of the Robinson Forest and the Fight for Its FutureReece, Erik and James J. Krupka2013University of Georgia Press9780820341231
The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving WaterVan der Ryn, Sim1978Ecological Design Press9781890132583
To a Young WriterStegner, Wallace2009Red Butte Press9780874809985
Tree Crops: A Permanent AgricultureSmith, J. Russell1987Island Press9780933280441
Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged LandscapeHanson, David T.1997Aperture9780893817268
We All Live Downstream: Writings About Mountaintop RemovalHoward, Jason2009MotesBooks9781934894071
The Woodcuts of Harlan HubbardHubbard, Harlan1994University Press of Kentucky9780813118796
NO FOOL NO FUNZeitz, Gray2012Larkspur Press

See also


  1. "Wendell E. Berry biography". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  2. "Dayton Literary Peace Prize names distinguished achievement award recipient". Dayton Daily News. August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
  3. Eblen, Tom (January 31, 2015). "At Hall of Fame ceremony, Wendell Berry laments 'public silence' on Ky. writers' work". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  4. Berry, Wendell (2018). Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories, The Civil War to World War II. New York: Library of America. ISBN 9781598535549.
  5. Berry, Wendell. My Conversation with Gurney Norman. Archived from the original on July 11, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  6. Menand, Louis (January 7, 2009). "Show or Tell: A Critic at Large: The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 13, 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. Angyal, Andrew (1995). Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne. ISBN 0-8057-4628-5.
  8. Davenport, Guy (1991). "Tom and Gene". Father Louie: Photographs of Thomas Merton by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. New York: Timken. ISBN 978-0943221090.
  9. Both were published in The Long-Legged House. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1969 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004). ISBN 9781593760137
  10. "The Quivira Coalition's 6th Annual Conference" (PDF). p. 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2015.
  11. "The Brian Lehrer Show". WNYC.org. October 17, 2013. I'm not a Baptist in any formal way. I go to the Baptist church, where my wife plays the piano, on days of bad weather. On days of good weather, I ramble off into the woods somewhere. I am a person who takes the Gospel seriously, but I have had trouble conforming my thoughts to a denomination.
  12. Berry, Wendell (1993). "Christianity and the Survival of Creation". Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. New York: Pantheon. ISBN 9780679423942.
  13. "Christianity Today, 15 November 2006 "Imagining a Different Way to Live"". The church and all of our institutions have failed to oppose the destruction of the world.
  14. Berger, Rose Marie (July 2004). "Web Exclusive: A Sojourner Interview with Wendell Berry". Well, Christendom is all right, but it doesn't have to exclude everybody else. It doesn't have to go to war against them. And it doesn't have to be so stupid as to condemn other faiths that it doesn't know anything about
  15. "Key Individuals of The Temenos Academy". Temenosacademy.org. 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
  16. Berry, Wendell. The Long-Legged House. Washington, D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004. p.64
  17. Berry, Wendell (2012). The Long-Legged House. Counterpoint (published 1969). p. 80.
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Further reading

  • Baker, Jack and Jeffrey Bilbro, ed. Telling the Stories Right: Wendell Berry's Imagination of Port William. Eugene, OR: Front Porch Republic Books, 2018.
  • Baker, Jack and Jeffrey Bilbro. Wendell Berry and Higher Education: Cultivating Virtues of Place. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017.
  • Bilbro, Jeffrey. Virtues of Renewal: Wendell Berry's Sustainable Forms. Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 2019.
  • Bilbro, Jeffrey. "The Way of Love: Berry's Vision of Work in the Kingdom of God," in Loving God's Wildness: The Christian Roots of Ecological Ethics in American Literature. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2015. 138-178.
  • Bonzo, J. Matthew and Michael R. Stevens. Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life: A Reader's Guide. Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2008.
  • Goodrich, Janet. The Unforeseen Self in the Works of Wendell Berry. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2001.
  • Merchant, Paul, ed. Wendell Berry (American Authors Series). Lewiston, Idaho: Confluence, 1991.
  • Mitchell, Mark and Nathan Schlueter. The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2011.
  • Oehlschlaeger, Fritz. The Achievement of Wendell Berry: The Hard History of Love. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2011.
  • Peters, Jason, ed. Wendell Berry: Life and Work. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
  • Shuman, Joel James and Owens, L. Roger (eds). Wendell Berry and Religion: Heaven's Earthly Life. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009.
  • Smith, Kimberly K. Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.
  • Sutterfield, Ragan. Wendell Berry and the Given Life. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2017.
  • Wiebe, Joseph R. The Place of Imagination: Wendell Berry and the Poetics of Community, Affection, and Identity. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017

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