Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934) is a conservationist, farmer, essayist, novelist, professor of English, and poet.
Critics and scholars have acknowledged Wendell Berry as a master of many literary genres, but whether he is writing poetry, fiction, or essays, his message is essentially the same: humans must learn to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth or perish. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, which analyzes the many failures of modern, mechanized life, is one of the key texts of the environmental movement, but Berry, a political maverick, has criticized environmentalists as well as those involved with big businesses and land development. In his opinion, many environmentalists place too much emphasis on wild lands without acknowledging the importance of agriculture to our society. Berry strongly believes that small-scale farming is essential to healthy local economies, and that strong local economies are essential to the survival of the species and the wellbeing of the planet.
He is a former professor of English at the University of Kentucky and a past fellow of both the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. He has received numerous awards for his work, including an award from the National Institute and Academy of Arts and letters in 1971, the T. S. Eliot Award, The National Humanities Medal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_National_Humanities_Medal ), and most recently, the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012.
His latest books include include: Nothing Living Lives Alone (2011), A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership (2012), It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays (2012), and New Collected Poems (2012).
Wendell Berry lives and works with his wife Tanya Berry on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.
Photo: Guy Mendes