Wendell Berry

From Academic Kids

Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934) is a United States poet, novelist, essayist, philosopher and farmer. His most well known book, The Unsettling of America, provides a classic critique of industrial agriculture (agribusiness), as contrasted with agrarianism.

Berry was born in Henry County, Kentucky in 1934, the first of four children born to John and Virginia Berry. His father was a tobacco farmer, and as a young man Berry wanted to farm tobacco as well.

He attended secondary school at Millersburg Military Institute, and then pursued a B.A. in English at the University of Kentucky at Lexington. In 1957 he completed a Masterís degree in English, also at the University of Kentucky; that same year, he married Tanya Amyx.

In 1958 Berry received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, which he used to study creative writing at Stanford University. In 1960 he and Tanya returned to the 250 acre (1 km²) Berry family farm.

After being granted a Guggenheim Fellowship, Berry took his family to Europe in 1961. In 1965 he returned to Kentucky, where he taught for several decades at the University of Kentucky. Today he lives and farms on the family farm at Port Royal, Kentucky, alongside the Kentucky River, not far from where it flows into the Ohio.

He is a prolific author, with at least twenty-five books (or chapbooks) of poems, sixteen volumes of essays, and eleven novels and short story collections to his name. His writing is rooted in the notion that one's work ought to be connected with one's place. His poetic voice is simple and resonant, a kind of plainsong, usually similar in tone to Jane Kenyon but occasionally veering into the territory of Walt Whitman or Biblical prophets. Much of his nonfiction serves as defense of farming and the connectedness he perceives as inherent in rural life.


  • "Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy."
  • "Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts."
  • "Eating is an agricultural act."
  • "Every day do something that won't compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing...Love someone who doesn't deserve it...Plant sequoias...Practice resurrection."
  • "There is no sense and no sanity in objecting to the desecration of the American flag when we tolerate, encourage, and as a daily business promote the desecration of the Country for which it stands."
  • "Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias."
  • "Practice resurrection."
  • "The line that connects the bombing of civilian populations to the mountain removed by strip mining ... to the tortured prisoner seems to run pretty straight. We're living, it seems, in the culmination of a long warfare -- warfare against human beings, other creatures and the Earth itself." --Lindsey Wilson College commencement (http://www.lindsey.edu/index.cgi?id=10379)


  • Nathan Coulter (1960) novel
  • November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three (1964)
  • The Broken Ground (1964) poems
  • A Place on Earth (1967) revised 1983
  • Openings: Poems (1968)
  • Findings (1969)
  • The Hidden Wound (1970)
  • Farming: A Handbook (1970) poems
  • The Long-Legged House (1971)
  • A Continuous Harmony : Essays Cultural and Agricultural (1971) essays
  • The Unforeseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River Gorge (1971)
  • The Country of Marriage (1973)
  • The Memory of Old Jack (1974)
  • Sayings & Doings (1975) poems
  • To What Listens (1975)
  • Horses (1975) chapbook
  • Kentucky River, Two Poems (1976)
  • There is Singing Around Me (1976) poems
  • Clearing (1977) poems
  • Three Memorial Poems (1977)
  • The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture (1978)
  • The Gift of Gravity (1979)
  • A Part (1980)
  • The Salad (1980) poem chapbook
  • Recollected Essays , 1965-1980 (1981)
  • The Gift of Goodland; Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural (1981)
  • The Wheel (1982)
  • From the Distance (1982) broadside
  • Standing by Words (1983)
  • Meeting the Expectations of the Land : Essays in Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship (1984) editor with Wes Jackson and Bruce Colman
  • Collected Poems 1957 - 1982 (1985)
  • The Wild Birds : Six Stories of the Port William Membership (1986)
  • The Wild Rose (1986) broadside
  • Home Economics (1987) essays
  • The Landscape of Harmony (1987)
  • Sabbaths (1987)
  • I go from the woods into the cleared field (1987) broadside poem
  • Remembering (1988) novel
  • Traveling at Home (1989)
  • What Are People For? (1990) essays
  • Sayings & Doings and An Eastward Look (1990)
  • Descendants and Ancestors of Captain James W. Berry (1990) with Laura Berry
  • What can turn us from this deserted future... (1991) broadside
  • The Discovery of Kentucky (1991)
  • Standing on Earth (1991)
  • The Peace of Wild Things (1991) poem
  • Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work (1992)
  • Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community : Eight Essays (c. 1993)
  • Fidelity: Five Stories (1992)
  • A Consent (1993)
  • Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front (1994)
  • Entries: Poems (1994)
  • Watch with Me: And Six Other Stories of the Yet-Remembered Ptolemy Proudfoot and His Wife, Miss Minnie, Nee Quinch (1994)
  • Another Turn of the Crank (1995) essays
  • Amish Economy (1996)
  • Three On Community (1996) essays, with Gary Snyder and Carole Koda
  • Waste Land : Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape (1997) with Mark Dowie and David T. Hanson
  • A World Lost (1997) novel
  • Two More Stories Of The Port William Membership (1997)
  • A Timbered Choir:The Sabbath Poems, 1979-1997 (1998)
  • Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (1998)
  • Jayber Crow (2000)
  • Grace, Photographs of Rural America (2000) with Gregory Spaid and Gene Logsdon
  • Life Is a Miracle : An Essay Against Modern Superstition (2001)
  • In the Presence of Fear: Three Essays for a Changed World (2001)
  • Sonata At Payne Hollow (2001) play
  • The Art Of The Commonplace The Agrarian Essays Of Wendell Berry (2002) edited by Norman Wirzba
  • Three Short Novels: Nathan Coulter; Remembering; A World Lost (2002)
  • Citizens Dissent: Security, Morality, and Leadership In An Age Of Terror (2003) with David James Duncan
  • Citizenship Papers (2003) essays
  • That Distant Land : The Collected Stories of Wendell Berry (2004)
  • Tobacco Harvest: An Elegy (2004) with James Baker Hall
  • Sabbaths 2002 (2004) chapbook
  • Hannah Coulter (2004)
  • Given (2005)

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