About Wendell Berry
WENDELL BERRY, writer, poet, teacher, farmer, and outspoken citizen of an endangered world, gives us a compelling vision of the good and true life. Passionate, eloquent, and painfully articulate, in more than fifty works – novels, short stories, poems and essays -- he celebrates a life lived in close communion with neighbors and the earth while addressing many of our most urgent cultural problems. A fierce and caring critic of American culture and a long-time trusted guide for those seeking a better, healthier, saner world, he has farmed a hillside in his native Henry County, Kentucky, together with his wife, for more than forty years.
Over the years, Berry has received the highest honors including the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award. Much has been said and written about his work.
Here are some examples:
“Berry once again carves out a unique position in American social debate: not liberal (he hates big government), not conservative (he hates big corporations), not libertarian (he would balance individual rights along with those of the commonwealth), but always sharp-tongued and aglow with common sense.” - Kirkus Reviews
“As a poet, [Berry] has stood apart from the categories and controversies of the literary world, writing in language neither modern nor postmodern, making poems that have the straightforward elegance of the Amish furniture in his farmhouse. And in recent decades, he has produced a body of political thought, in a series of essays and speeches, that is so Jeffersonian it seems almost un-American in today’s world.” Smithsonian
"Berry's poems shine with the gentle wisdom of a craftsman who has thought deeply about the paradoxical strangeness and wonder life." Christian Science Monitor
“Berry is a prophet of our healing.” New York Times Book Review
Wendell Berry writes at a long, deep work counter fastened to the wall and floor beneath a forty-paned window. “A grid with more than two dimensions, a way to measure and to frame anything of his choosing,” close friend James Baker Hall describes, the window serves as a metaphorical lens for his mind’s eye.
About the Film
The most powerful way to draw a portrait of such an accomplished thinker and artist with a painfully lucid voice is to attempt to get behind his eyes and to imagine the world as he sees it. Rather than train the lens on Berry himself, as would be an expected and more typical approach, this film allows Berry, in a sense, to point the camera toward the stories and landscapes he would have us regard: the stories of small generational farmers in Henry County as a way to better understand the struggles, hopes and vital importance of rural land-based communities.
Food and agriculture have become popular topics recently, but of all the major voices on this collections of issues, Wendell’s is the only one coming from rural America. How can we have a real discussion of food and agriculture if we don’t begin to truly regard, understand and better care for our rural communities and farmers?