Talk:Wendell Berry

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Dirt Road?[edit]

I've removed from the Poetry list "Dirt Road, 1981" because I know of and can find no such book. Can anyone show evidence of such a work? brtom 01:55, 1 November 2007 (UTC)


I just noticed that someone has listed Thomas Merton as an influence on WB. While it is clear that they knew each other, is there any published or spoken statement by WB or others that Merton was an influence? brtom 18:14, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Poetic Voice?[edit]

"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."

I'm only marginally aware of Jane Kenyon's overall tone, but I question the usefulness of this comparison. I doubt that Kenyon is any more widely known to the general public than Berry. What other help may be given to a reader who needs a description of Berry's poetic voice? brtom


Would it be possible for someone, preferably the author, to identify the source(s) for the biographical material and the quotations in this article? Thanks ... brtom

I've also tried to tidy up the information related to Berry's farm ... fixing the date of Berry's move to KY ... clarifying that Lane's Landing is near his parents' birth places but is not technically "the family farm" ... and removing the specific acreage number until it can be verified (does anyone know of a definitve source for this info?) ... bt

I think that the unsourced quotations should be removed if citations cannot be given. The "rats and roaches" quote is everywhere on the web (spread no doubt by this article), but no one seems to know where it comes from. I'll wait a week or so and then delete them. brtom 04:52, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

I also am worried about this. In particular, I'm bothered by the statement that he resigned from UK in 1977. That may be true in some bureaucratic sense, but he was most definitely still there teaching and relating to students (like me, for example) in the mid-eighties.Mtalleyrand (talk) 07:28, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

The question of Berry's time at UK has been improved with a citation and the addition of the idea that he returned in 1987. I of course know not to edit the page based on nothing but my own personal knowledge, but it remains the case that I was at student at UK 1982-1986, and Berry had an office in the Patterson Office Tower during that time. I visited with him there many times. I say this to point out that there is still some problem with the factual accuracy of the page, even with the citation.Mtalleyrand (talk) 18:01, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

This is interesting. Three sources I've consulted (Angyal, Merchant, and Grubbs) have spoken of WB's "resigning" in '77 and "returning" or "again" in '87. That said, I'm not trying to deny your own experience. Just trying to figure a way of describing the nature of WB's relation to UK throughout this period. Any suggestions? Maybe something about his "first" and then "second" official connection? But that still does not address the interim covered by your personal knowledge. brtom (talk) 20:55, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Themes and Theses[edit]

I think this page desperately needs a section (before quotes) on themes in Wendell Berry's work and his theses. What ideas is he promoting and why? I am not in a good position to do this since I have only read a couple of essays.

Works: could do with organization[edit]

The list of works would be more useful if organized into lists of novels, essays, poetry, etc.

A Picture?[edit]

A picture would be useful. --Spudstud 06:25, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm hunting down a usable picture. brtom 17:52, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Picture found, permission received, and picture added ... but I don't know how to handle the licensing. Any help? brtom 13:15, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

It looks like you selected GFDL, then added tags for Creative Commons. Which license do you choose for your picture? Stevie is the man! TalkWork 05:00, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for comment. Ok ... so I only need the GFDL ... but I also need to clearly attribute the photo to David Marshall, its creator. I'mnot sure how to do that with GFDL. brtom 21:52, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Basically: Say you got the image from David Marshall, linking to his photo website (if he has one), and saying you got his permission to upload the image under the GFDL. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 03:04, 30 July 2007 (UTC)


Section Biography opens, "Berry is the fifth of two children born to John Berry"

How is that possible? David Bergan 06:17, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Works listing[edit]

I've removed from Works: Poetry the titles of individual poems (which, at any rate were incorrectly dated). I think this listing should stick to books of poetry WB has published. (Well, I've left in a couple of broadsides, just to indicate the range of his publishing) Any objections? brtom 01:08, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

Quotations Section[edit]

I've removed the section of quotations and blended them in over at WikiQuote. brtom 04:33, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

This is an article, not a school paper[edit]

Here we go again, a fan has written a school paper and posted it as an article. There should be NO literary criticism except what can be cited. NO original criticism or analysis, please. The sections below the biography really should be deleted entirely, since they are filled with uncited criticism. Please, someone try to clean them up. — J M Rice (talk) 06:27, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

I hear you. Could you point me toward a strong Wikipedia article on an author which successfully avoids literary criticism?brtom (talk) 03:01, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Having considered the traits of a "fan site," I don't believe this article falls under that category. I will remove that box in a few days if more specifically "fannish" elements are not pointed out.brtom (talk) 04:00, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

I've brought the Poetry section closer to the article mark, I think. And I'll soon be attacking the Ideas and Fiction section. It doesn't seem that there is REALLY a need to delete everything below the Bio ... The piece just needs a little more elbow grease, no? brtom (talk) 15:54, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

I am removing the "fan site" tag because I fail to see how this article contains "excessive trivia and irrelevant praise, ... lists and collections of links." It does contain what seems like "criticism," but I'm working to provide sources for these elements. I welcome discussion on these points.brtom (talk) 12:55, 17 May 2008 (UTC)

Uncollected Stories[edit]

I have restored the Uncollected Stories section. I don't understand why it was removed to begin with. This is information that is available nowhere else. It is not redundant and should be left standing until Berry publishes these works in book form. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brtom1 (talkcontribs) 16:46, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Undoing "Spam link"[edit]

I have undone the deletion of the Poetry Foundation link. I don't see how this qualifies in any way as a spam link. If you disagree, please explain. Thanks. brtom (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:19, 19 August 2009 (UTC).


This article has almost nothing about Berry's political outlook or activism. While I wouldn't be qualified to write anything in depth about them, their absence from this post is a bit negligent. --Spidersense215 (talk) 15:24, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Has Mr Berry grown tobacco at Lanes Landing?[edit]

I removed the word "tobacco" from the phrase "began growing tobacco", because in the interview with Jim Minick, the following exchange occurs:

"Minick: Do you grow tobacco?

"Berry: I never have grown tobacco here. Until recently, when my neighbors were growing tobacco, I was always involved. Nearly every year of my life, except when I was away, I was involved in setting and cutting tobacco with my neighbors.

"Mrs. Berry: We just don’t raise tobacco on our farm. We still have our allotment. Our children are growing it now."

Dirk McDonald (talk) 05:51, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for clarifying this, Dirk. brtom (talk) 20:16, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Twitter Account[edit]

Under "activism" user Jabo has added, "Despite Berry's staunch stand against certain technology, he has, as of August 2011, started a Twitter account.[1]," but I have removed it because there is no corroborative evidence that Berry (or anyone associated with him) has set up and posted to a Twitter account. Anyone with internet access can create a Twitter account under any name. brtom (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 22:54, 24 August 2011 (UTC).

Berry's Christian Views and How They Inform His Agrarian/Activist Worldview[edit]

This article is incomplete without a section about Berry's Christian views on Creation and how these inform his activism etc...Berry's activism is NOT secular, nor is it usually allied with typical environmentalist activism.

It seems people like to gloss over this particular facet of Berry's life, even though, according to him it's incredibly important. See for example:

Christianity and The Survival of Creation

"We will discover that, for these reasons, our destruction of nature is not just bad stewardship, or stupid economics, or a betrayal of family responsibility; it is the most horrid blasphemy. It is flinging God's gifts into his face, as of no worth beyond that assigned to them by our destruction of them. To Dante, 'despising Nature and her gifts' was a violence against God.(n3) We have no entitlement from the Bible to exterminate or permanently destroy or hold in contempt anything on the earth or in the heavens above it or in the waters beneath it. We have the right to use the gifts of Nature, but not to ruin or waste them. We have the right to use what we need, but no more, which is why the Bible forbids usury and great accumulations of property. The usurer, Dante said, 'condemns Nature. . . for he puts his hope elsewhere.'(n4)"

-- (talk) 20:11, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

On another note: Why is his religion only discussed when referring to his criticism of it? I hate it when people have an axe to grind on Wikipedia. Just tell it like it is. Just because it may disturb some that Berry is a thoroughgoing Baptist doesn't mean you always have to mention his CRITICISM of his religion every time you talk about it.

Look at the short blurb about his religious beliefs:

"Berry, a lifelong Baptist, has criticized Christian organizations for failing to challenge cultural complacency about environmental degradation,[8] and has shown a willingness to criticize what he perceives as the arrogance of some Christians.[9] 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.[10]"

It's like someone checked the boxes off to make him seem as "liberal" of a Christian as possible. 1. Mention that he's critical of his faith without also mentioning that he's very supportive of his faith, 2. Mention that he's not "dogmatic" (doesn't believe his views to be the only truth) and studies "all faiths and spiritual pursuits."

Anyone that has actually read Berry will know that his views are much more nuanced than this and he is a rather solid, conservative (doctrinally speaking) Christian. The reference [9] completely ignores the rest of the Berry interview.

-- (talk) 20:15, 14 June 2012 (UTC)

Characterizing Mr. Berry's orientation to religion in general and his own faith in particular has been problematic here. I believe there have been quite a few edits around this matter. Concerning some of your points here, the fact that he is described as "a lifelong Baptist" would suggest, I think, that he is supportive of his faith; and mention of his critical stance toward some aspects of Christianity that are practiced (or not) by some groups is backed up by what he has written ... in fact, he does this in "Christianity and the Survival of Creation," which you recommend.

I agree that the information here should be verifiable, cut as close to "fact" as possible, and should be expressed in a value-neutral tone. If you feel something needs to be altered or added to bring it more in line with those qualities, please make (or suggest) those specific edits.

brtom (talk) 17:21, 20 July 2012 (UTC)

Collected and Uncollected Stories[edit]

I've added A Place in Time to Fiction and removed titles that are listed in its Contents from Uncollected Stories. Two stories remain in Uncolllected because their titles don't appear in the Contents of A Place in Time. This may be a case of a title change from original publication to the collected volume, but it will take me awhile to determine what is what. If you can help with this, please do. Thanks. brtom (talk) 13:53, 2 October 2012 (UTC)

OK. What was published in Sewanee Review as "In the Nick of Time" is now published as "A New Day (1949)". brtom (talk) 18:43, 2 October 2012 (UTC)

Concerning the Fidelity Section[edit]

I'm not very happy with the section on Fidelity. I don't like the fairly clunky summaries of the stories (well-meant as they are) and don't have time right now to revise them. To go a step further, I'm not convinced that they are appropriate for the article, since none of the other story collections are treated this way. The user might be nudging us in this direction, but it needs more planning.

Also, there are five stories in the collection, but only four are presented here.

Action: I am tempted to remove the section for now until it can be gotten into better shape, but I'll hold off on that in hope that the original poster(s) will share some thoughts about this.

I would love some conversation about this, but am not able to identify the user(s) who posted it. Please comment here if/when you notice me here. Thanks.

brtom (talk) 14:50, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Because this section on Fidelity (with all of its weaknesses noted above) has not been improved, I have removed it and will try to rework it. Please comment here if you have thoughts about this. brtom (talk) 02:38, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Notable Family?[edit]

I've removed references to two of Berry's grandchildren (if that's who they are) because no foundation is established for them being "notable" aside from being (perhaps) WB's grandchildren. In itself, the mention of these names and where they work or study seems more invasive than useful. Please comment if you think otherwise. brtom (talk) 02:29, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Issues around WB's Christianity[edit]

I have undone edits made by Goose friend for the following reasons:

In the first of these changes, we see who describes himself as “a person who takes the Gospel seriously,” converted to a Christian who, in his own words, “takes the Gospel seriously”.

Within the context of his complete statement (given in the footnote), we see that WB is responding to his interviewer’s assertion that he is a Baptist. The user who made this edit (hereafter GF) seems most interested in foregrounding Mr. Berry’s Christianity as such. He seems to see a problem with merely accepting WB’s statement and its context as sufficient grounds for asserting Mr. Berry’s personal commitment to Christianity. And he may be correct, in that WB does not pronounce a Credo here. But the passage as originally stated (in yellow), conforms to an actual statement by Mr. Berry. GF, as I read his edit, is distorting the original—perhaps out of a need to pin Mr. Berry down on the Christian map. In addition, GF creates a new problem with his edit in that we must now wrestle with the notion of a Christian who doesn’t take the Gospel seriously.

Of the many Christian readers of WB’s work (of which I am one), there seem to be some (not me) who are not satisfied with the terms by which WB relates himself to Christianity. They seek some absolute, iron-clad declaration by Mr. Berry that he does, in fact, accept and adhere to Christian dogma (perhaps as we find it in the Apostle’s Creed). One guesses that if such a declaratory moment cannot be found, these readers would have to abandon their interest in WB’s work, since his faith has not been proven to be as pure as they would like it to be.

The second change, from … has criticized Christian organizations for failing to … has criticized the Christian organizations that fail …, would be a pretty good revision if it reflected what Mr. Berry has actually written. But I don’t find any passage where he specifies such organizations. Instead, we read in “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”:

“It is hardly too much to say that most Christian organizations are as happily indifferent to the ecological, cultural, and religious implications of industrial economics as are most industrial organizations.” (94)

His “most” here suggests that the exceptions are few.

The third change, from “the arrogance of some Christians” to “the arrogance of some religious people” seems to be rooted in a desire to broaden or soften WB’s critique of Christianity (which is the focus of the key essay noted above).

Glynn Young has recently written at his blog ( that “Berry is a writer who happens to be a Christian, and his faith is not an obstacle for readers who don’t share it.” It is kind of ironic that some of those who do share that faith find any number of obstacles and are less generous than they might be in not allowing Mr. Berry’s self-description as “a person who takes the Gospel seriously” to stand. brtom (talk) 16:26, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Lane's Landing Farm Productivity[edit]

One anonymous editor contributed the following:

It is unclear how much agricultural produce he has brought to market from this farm over his lifetime. This is important to know because his example is cited as a example of the radically re-organized small farms model he promotes. It is likely that his small number of acres actually under production produce very little income and would require massive subsidy for small farmers without access to the substantial, steady off farm income he has enjoyed as a professor and writer.

Another editor removed this, noting "This guy appears to be a repeat vandal re-inserting opinion on Berry's farming income."

I don't see this as vandalism, but it IS opinion which suggests a criticism of WB. Coming from this anonymous editor alone, the statement is just an insinuation, lacking credibility. But certainly WB's work can be, has been, and should be criticized. Perhaps a new section called "Critical Reception" or some such could be added in which published critiques could be presented. brtom (talk) 00:36, 20 January 2015 (UTC)


Have commenced tidy-up of the Bibliography section using cite templates and a table for short stories; feel free to continue. Sunwin1960 (talk) 05:04, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks much for pointing out that such a sortable table is possible. I've added it for FICTION and will work on other sections as well ... as time permits ... unless someone else jumps in sooner. I fear that I may have messed up your cite template. I'm not sure how that works or what it does but will have to learn. brtom (talk) 15:04, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

Removed a Title[edit]

I have removed a title added under Poetry, given as "Like the Water 1976." I can find no such book of poetry by Berry—no such poem of that title. Please cite more publication information if you decide to reinstate this item. brtom (talk) 02:45, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Should the "Unsettling of America" receive more prominent mention in the works section?[edit]

I think this is a core piece of literature that deserves at least a minimal summary on Wendell's article. What do others think? Sciencelibrarian (talk) 16:53, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

I agree and am trying to do something with it. Time is a problem. Thanks for the suggestion. brtom (talk) 16:39, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Change are correct. brtom (talk) 16:37, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ Wendell Berry Twitter