The general reaction to the apparent end of the era of cheap fossil fuel, as to other readily foreseeable curtailments, has been to delay any sort of reckoning. The strategies of delay, so far, have been a sort of willed oblivion, or visions of large profits to the manufacturers of such “biofuels” as ethanol from corn or switchgrass, or the familiar unscientific faith that “science will find an answer.” The dominant response, in short, is a dogged belief that what we call the American Way of Life will prove somehow indestructible. We will keep on consuming, spending, wasting, and driving, as before, at any cost to anything and everybody but ourselves.
This belief was always indefensible — the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed — and by now it is manifestly foolish. But foolishness on this scale looks disturbingly like a sort of national insanity. We seem to have come to a collective delusion of grandeur, insisting that all of us are “free” to be as conspicuously greedy and wasteful as the most corrupt of kings and queens. (Perhaps by devoting more and more of our already abused cropland to fuel production we will at last cure ourselves of obesity and become fashionably skeletal, hungry but — thank God! — still driving.)
The problem with us is not only prodigal extravagance but also an assumed limitlessness. We have obscured the issue by refusing to see that limitlessness is a godly trait. We have insistently, and with relief, defined ourselves as animals or as “higher animals.” But to define ourselves as animals, given our specifically human powers and desires, is to define ourselves as limitless animals — which of course is a contradiction in terms. Any definition is a limit, which is why the God of Exodus refuses to define Himself: “I am that I am.”
Even so, that we have founded our present society upon delusional assumptions of limitlessness is easy enough to demonstrate. A recent “summit” in Louisville, Kentucky, was entitled “Unbridled Energy: The Industrialization of Kentucky’s Energy Resources.” Its subjects were “clean-coal generation, biofuels, and other cutting-edge applications,” the conversion of coal to “liquid fuels,” and the likelihood that all this will be “environmentally friendly.” These hopes, which “can create jobs and boost the nation’s security,” are to be supported by government “loan guarantees . . . investment tax credits and other tax breaks.” Such talk we recognize as completely conventional. It is, in fact, a tissue of clichés that is now the common tongue of promoters, politicians, and journalists. This language does not allow for any computation or speculation as to the net good of anything proposed. The entire contraption of “Unbridled Energy” is supported only by a rote optimism: “The United States has 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves — enough to last 100 years even at double the current rate of consumption.” We humans have inhabited the earth for many thousands of years, and now we can look forward to surviving for another hundred by doubling our consumption of coal? This is national security? The world-ending fire of industrial fundamentalism may already be burning in our furnaces and engines, but if it will burn for a hundred more years, that will be fine. Surely it would be better to intend straightforwardly to contain the fire and eventually put it out! But once greed has been made an honorable motive, then you have an economy without limits. It has no place for temperance or thrift or the ecological law of return. It will do anything. It is monstrous by definition.
This fantasy of limitlessness perhaps arose from the coincidence of the Industrial Revolution with the suddenly exploitable resources of the New World — though how the supposed limitlessness of resources can be reconciled with their exhaustion is not clear. Or perhaps it comes from the contrary apprehension of the world’s “smallness,” made possible by modern astronomy and high-speed transportation. Fear of the smallness of our world and its life may lead to a kind of claustrophobia and thence, with apparent reasonableness, to a desire for the “freedom” of limitlessness. But this desire, paradoxically, reduces everything. The life of this world is small to those who think it is, and the desire to enlarge it makes it smaller, and can reduce it finally to nothing.
However it came about, this credo of limitlessness clearly implies a principled wish not only for limitless possessions but also for limitless knowledge, limitless science, limitless technology, and limitless progress. And, necessarily, it must lead to limitless violence, waste, war, and destruction.
That it should finally produce a crowning cult of political limitlessness is only a matter of mad logic.
The normalization of the doctrine of limitlessness has produced a sort of moral minimalism: the desire to be efficient at any cost, to be unencumbered by complexity. The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.
Our national faith so far has been: “There’s always more.” Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. Thus an X marked on a paper ballot no longer fulfills our idea of voting. One problem with this state of affairs is that the work now most needing to be done — that of neighborliness and caretaking — cannot be done by remote control with the greatest power on the largest scale. A second problem is that the economic fantasy of limitlessness in a limited world calls fearfully into question the value of our monetary wealth, which does not reliably stand for the real wealth of land, resources, and workmanship but instead wastes and depletes it.
That human limitlessness is a fantasy means, obviously, that its life expectancy is limited. There is now a growing perception, and not just among a few experts, that we are entering a time of inescapable limits. We are not likely to be granted another world to plunder in compensation for our pillage of this one. Nor are we likely to believe much longer in our ability to outsmart, by means of science and technology, our economic stupidity. The hope that we can cure the ills of industrialism by the homeopathy of more technology seems at last to be losing status. We are, in short, coming under pressure to understand ourselves as limited creatures in a limited world.
This constraint, however, is not the condemnation it may seem. On the contrary, it returns us to our real condition and to our human heritage, from which our self-definition as limitless animals has for too long cut us off. Every cultural and religious tradition that I know about, while fully acknowledging our animal nature, defines us specifically as humans — that is, as animals (if the word still applies) capable of living not only within natural limits but also within cultural limits, self-imposed. As earthly creatures, we live, because we must, within natural limits, which we may describe by such names as “earth” or “ecosystem” or “watershed” or “place.” But as humans, we may elect to respond to this necessary placement by the self-restraints implied in neighborliness, stewardship, thrift, temperance, generosity, care, kindness, friendship, loyalty, and love.
In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define “freedom,” for example, as an escape from all restraint. But, as my friend Bert Hornback has explained in his book The Wisdom in Words, “free” is etymologically related to “friend.” These words come from the same Indo-European root, which carries the sense of “dear” or “beloved.” We set our friends free by our love for them, with the implied restraints of faithfulness or loyalty. And this suggests that our “identity” is located not in the impulse of selfhood but in deliberately maintained connections.
Thinking of our predicament has sent me back again to Christopher Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. This is a play of the Renaissance; Faustus, a man of learning, longs to possess “all Nature’s treasury,” to “Ransack the ocean . . ./And search all corners of the new-found world . . .” To assuage his thirst for knowledge and power, he deeds his soul to Lucifer, receiving in compensation for twenty-four years the services of the sub-devil Mephistophilis, nominally Faustus’s slave but in fact his master. Having the subject of limitlessness in mind, I was astonished on this reading to come upon Mephistophilis’s description of hell. When Faustus asks, “How comes it then that thou art out of hell?” Mephistophilis replies, “Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.” And a few pages later he explains:
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place, but where we [the damned] are is hell,
And where hell is must we ever be.
For those who reject heaven, hell is everywhere, and thus is limitless. For them, even the thought of heaven is hell.
It is only appropriate, then, that Mephistophilis rejects any conventional limit: “Tut, Faustus, marriage is but a ceremonial toy. If thou lovest me, think no more of it.” Continuing this theme, for Faustus’s pleasure the devils present a sort of pageant of the seven deadly sins, three of which — Pride, Wrath, and Gluttony — describe themselves as orphans, disdaining the restraints of parental or filial love.
Seventy or so years later, and with the issue of the human definition more than ever in doubt, John Milton in Book VII of Paradise Lost returns again to a consideration of our urge to know. To Adam’s request to be told the story of creation, the “affable Archangel” Raphael agrees “to answer thy desire/Of knowledge within bounds [my emphasis] . . . ,” explaining that
Knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temperance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.
Raphael is saying, with angelic circumlocution, that knowledge without wisdom, limitless knowledge, is not worth a fart; he is not a humorless archangel. But he also is saying that knowledge without measure, knowledge that the human mind cannot appropriately use, is mortally dangerous.
I am well aware of what I risk in bringing this language of religion into what is normally a scientific discussion. I do so because I doubt that we can define our present problems adequately, let alone solve them, without some recourse to our cultural heritage. We are, after all, trying now to deal with the failure of scientists, technicians, and politicians to “think up” a version of human continuance that is economically probable and ecologically responsible, or perhaps even imaginable. If we go back into our tradition, we are going to find a concern with religion, which at a minimum shatters the selfish context of the individual life, and thus forces a consideration of what human beings are and ought to be.
This concern persists at least as late as our Declaration of Independence, which holds as “self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . .” Thus among our political roots we have still our old preoccupation with our definition as humans, which in the Declaration is wisely assigned to our Creator; our rights and the rights of all humans are not granted by any human government but are innate, belonging to us by birth. This insistence comes not from the fear of death or even extinction but from the ancient fear that in order to survive we might become inhuman or monstrous.
And so our cultural tradition is in large part the record of our continuing effort to understand ourselves as beings specifically human: to say that, as humans, we must do certain things and we must not do certain things. We must have limits or we will cease to exist as humans; perhaps we will cease to exist, period. At times, for example, some of us humans have thought that human beings, properly so called, did not make war against civilian populations, or hold prisoners without a fair trial, or use torture for any reason.
Some of us would-be humans have thought too that we should not be free at anybody else’s expense. And yet in the phrase “free market,” the word “free” has come to mean unlimited economic power for some, with the necessary consequence of economic powerlessness for others. Several years ago, after I had spoken at a meeting, two earnest and obviously troubled young veterinarians approached me with a question: How could they practice veterinary medicine without serious economic damage to the farmers who were their clients? Underlying their question was the fact that for a long time veterinary help for a sheep or a pig has been likely to cost more than the animal is worth. I had to answer that, in my opinion, so long as their practice relied heavily on selling patented drugs, they had no choice, since the market for medicinal drugs was entirely controlled by the drug companies, whereas most farmers had no control at all over the market for agricultural products. My questioners were asking in effect if a predatory economy can have a beneficent result. The answer too often is No. And that is because there is an absolute discontinuity between the economy of the seller of medicines and the economy of the buyer, as there is in the health industry as a whole. The drug industry is interested in the survival of patients, we have to suppose, because surviving patients will continue to consume drugs.
Now let us consider a contrary example. Recently, at another meeting, I talked for some time with an elderly, and some would say an old-fashioned, farmer from Nebraska. Unable to farm any longer himself, he had rented his land to a younger farmer on the basis of what he called “crop share” instead of a price paid or owed in advance. Thus, as the old farmer said of his renter, “If he has a good year, I have a good year. If he has a bad year, I have a bad one.” This is what I would call community economics. It is a sharing of fate. It assures an economic continuity and a common interest between the two partners to the trade. This is as far as possible from the economy in which the young veterinarians were caught, in which the powerful are limitlessly “free” to trade, to the disadvantage, and ultimately the ruin, of the powerless.
It is this economy of community destruction that, wittingly or unwittingly, most scientists and technicians have served for the past two hundred years. These scientists and technicians have justified themselves by the proposition that they are the vanguard of progress, enlarging human knowledge and power, and thus they have romanticized both themselves and the predatory enterprises that they have served.
Pumping Well Near Oil City. (1865)
As a consequence, our great need now is for sciences and technologies of limits, of domesticity, of what Wes Jackson of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has called “homecoming.” These would be specifically human sciences and technologies, working, as the best humans always have worked, within self-imposed limits. The limits would be the accepted contexts of places, communities, and neighborhoods, both natural and human.
I know that the idea of such limitations will horrify some people, maybe most people, for we have long encouraged ourselves to feel at home on “the cutting edges” of knowledge and power or on some “frontier” of human experience. But I know too that we are talking now in the presence of much evidence that improvement by outward expansion may no longer be a good idea, if it ever was. It was not a good idea for the farmers who “leveraged” secure acreage to buy more during the 1970s. It has proved tragically to be a bad idea in a number of recent wars. If it is a good idea in the form of corporate gigantism, then we must ask, For whom? Faustus, who wants all knowledge and all the world for himself, is a man supremely lonely and finally doomed. I don’t think Marlowe was kidding. I don’t think Satan is kidding when he says in Paradise Lost, “Myself am Hell.”
If the idea of appropriate limitation seems unacceptable to us, that may be because, like Marlowe’s Faustus and Milton’s Satan, we confuse limits with confinement. But that, as I think Marlowe and Milton and others were trying to tell us, is a great and potentially a fatal mistake. Satan’s fault, as Milton understood it and perhaps with some sympathy, was precisely that he could not tolerate his proper limitation; he could not subordinate himself to anything whatever. Faustus’s error was his unwillingness to remain “Faustus, and a man.” In our age of the world it is not rare to find writers, critics, and teachers of literature, as well as scientists and technicians, who regard Satan’s and Faustus’s defiance as salutary and heroic.
On the contrary, our human and earthly limits, properly understood, are not confinements but rather inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning. Perhaps our most serious cultural loss in recent centuries is the knowledge that some things, though limited, are inexhaustible. For example, an ecosystem, even that of a working forest or farm, so long as it remains ecologically intact, is inexhaustible. A small place, as I know from my own experience, can provide opportunities of work and learning, and a fund of beauty, solace, and pleasure — in addition to its difficulties — that cannot be exhausted in a lifetime or in generations.
To recover from our disease of limitlessness, we will have to give up the idea that we have a right to be godlike animals, that we are potentially omniscient and omnipotent, ready to discover “the secret of the universe.” We will have to start over, with a different and much older premise: the naturalness and, for creatures of limited intelligence, the necessity, of limits. We must learn again to ask how we can make the most of what we are, what we have, what we have been given. If we always have a theoretically better substitute available from somebody or someplace else, we will never make the most of anything. It is hard to make the most of one life. If we each had two lives, we would not make much of either. Or as one of my best teachers said of people in general: “They’ll never be worth a damn as long as they’ve got two choices.”
To deal with the problems, which after all are inescapable, of living with limited intelligence in a limited world, I suggest that we may have to remove some of the emphasis we have lately placed on science and technology and have a new look at the arts. For an art does not propose to enlarge itself by limitless extension but rather to enrich itself within bounds that are accepted prior to the work.
It is the artists, not the scientists, who have dealt unremittingly with the problem of limits. A painting, however large, must finally be bounded by a frame or a wall. A composer or playwright must reckon, at a minimum, with the capacity of an audience to sit still and pay attention. A story, once begun, must end somewhere within the limits of the writer’s and the reader’s memory. And of course the arts characteristically impose limits that are artificial: the five acts of a play, or the fourteen lines of a sonnet. Within these limits artists achieve elaborations of pattern, of sustaining relationships of parts with one another and with the whole, that may be astonishingly complex. And probably most of us can name a painting, a piece of music, a poem or play or story that still grows in meaning and remains fresh after many years of familiarity.
We know by now that a natural ecosystem survives by the same sort of formal intricacy, ever-changing, inexhaustible, and no doubt finally unknowable. We know further that if we want to make our economic landscapes sustainably and abundantly productive, we must do so by maintaining in them a living formal complexity something like that of natural ecosystems. We can do this only by raising to the highest level our mastery of the arts of agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, and, ultimately, the art of living.
It is true that insofar as scientific experiments must be conducted within carefully observed limits, scientists also are artists. But in science one experiment, whether it succeeds or fails, is logically followed by another in a theoretically infinite progression. According to the underlying myth of modern science, this progression is always replacing the smaller knowledge of the past with the larger knowledge of the present, which will be replaced by the yet larger knowledge of the future.
In the arts, by contrast, no limitless sequence of works is ever implied or looked for. No work of art is necessarily followed by a second work that is necessarily better. Given the methodologies of science, the law of gravity and the genome were bound to be discovered by somebody; the identity of the discoverer is incidental to the fact. But it appears that in the arts there are no second chances. We must assume that we had one chance each for The Divine Comedy and King Lear. If Dante and Shakespeare had died before they wrote those poems, nobody ever would have written them.
The same is true of our arts of land use, our economic arts, which are our arts of living. With these it is once-for-all. We will have no chance to redo our experiments with bad agriculture leading to soil loss. The Appalachian mountains and forests we have destroyed for coal are gone forever. It is now and forevermore too late to use thriftily the first half of the world’s supply of petroleum. In the art of living we can only start again with what remains.
And so, in confronting the phenomenon of “peak oil,” we are really confronting the end of our customary delusion of “more.” Whichever way we turn, from now on, we are going to find a limit beyond which there will be no more. To hit these limits at top speed is not a rational choice. To start slowing down, with the idea of avoiding catastrophe, is a rational choice, and a viable one if we can recover the necessary political sanity. Of course it makes sense to consider alternative energy sources, provided they make sense. But also we will have to re-examine the economic structures of our lives, and conform them to the tolerances and limits of our earthly places. Where there is no more, our one choice is to make the most and the best of what we have.
Berry in December 2011
|Born||(1934-08-05) August 5, 1934 (age 83)|
Henry County, Kentucky, U.S.
|Occupation||Poet, farmer, writer, activist, academic|
|Education||University of Kentucky (B.A; M.A., English, 1957)|
|Genre||Fiction, poetry, essays|
|Subject||agriculture, rural life, community|
Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. A prolific author, he has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays. 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. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
Berry was the first of four children 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. In 1956, at the University of Kentucky he met another Kentucky writer-to-be, Gurney Norman. 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 Edward Abbey, Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, Ernest Gaines, Tillie Olsen, and Ken Kesey. 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. 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.
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). They bought their first flock of seven Border Cheviot sheep in 1978. 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."
In the 1970s and the early 1980s, he edited and wrote for the Rodale Press, including its publications Organic Gardening and Farming and The New Farm. From 1987 to 1993, he returned to the English Department of the University of Kentucky. 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," has criticized Christian organizations for failing to challenge cultural complacency about environmental degradation, and has shown a willingness to criticize what he perceives as the arrogance of some Christians. 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.
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:
|“||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.||”|
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."
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—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."
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." In July 2009 Berry, Jackson and Fred Kirschenmann, of The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, gathered in Washington DC to promote this idea. 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."
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." 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.
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.
On May 22, 2009, Berry, at a listening session in Louisville, spoke against the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). 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."
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. On February 28, 2011, the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved the cancellation of this power plant.
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." In August 2012, the papers were donated to The Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, KY.
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."
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.
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."
Berry's nonfiction serves as an extended conversation about the life he values. According to him, the good life includes sustainable agriculture, appropriate technologies, healthy rural communities, connection to place, the pleasures of good food, husbandry, good work, local economics, the miracle of life, fidelity, frugality, reverence, and the interconnectedness of life. The threats Berry finds to this good simple life include: industrial farming and the industrialization of life, ignorance, hubris, greed, violence against others and against the natural world, the eroding topsoil in the United States, global economics, and environmental destruction. As a prominent defender of agrarian values, Berry's appreciation for traditional farming techniques, such as those of the Amish, grew in the 1970s, due in part to exchanges with Draft Horse Journal publisher Maurice Telleen. 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."
Author Rod Dreher writes that Berry's "unshakable devotion to the land, to localism, and to the dignity of traditional life makes him both a great American and, to the disgrace of our age, a prophet without honor in his native land." Similarly, Bill Kauffman argues that "Among the tragedies of contemporary politics is that Wendell Berry, as a man of place, has no place in a national political discussion that is framed by Gannett and Clear Channel." Historian Richard White calls Berry "the environmental writer who has most thoughtfully tried to come to terms with labor" and "one of the few environmental writers who takes work seriously."
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. 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.
Berry's core ideas, and in particular his poem "Sabbaths III (Santa Clara Valley)," guided the 2007 documentary feature film The Unforeseen, produced by Terrence Malick and Robert Redford. The film's director Laura Dunn stated, "We are of course most grateful to Mr. Berry for sharing his inspired work – his poem served as a guide post for me throughout this, at times meandering, project." Berry appears in the film narrating his own poem. Dunn went on to make the 2016 documentary feature Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, again produced by Malick and Redford.
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" and "July, 1773", respectively) and occasional and discursive poems ("Against the War in Vietnam" and "Some Further Words", 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,
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."
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" 
According to Angyal, "There is little modernist formalism or postmodernist experimentation in [Berry's] verse." 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." 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" 
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"
For Berry, poetry exists "at the center of a complex reminding" 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.".
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 (2016) contains nine Sabbath poems from 2014 and sixteen from 2015.
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."
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." 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.
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. 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." 
The effect of profound shifts in the agricultural practices of the United States, and the disappearance of traditional agrarian life, 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" 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." Elsewhere, Berry has said, "The only thing I try to accomplish in fiction is to show how people act when they love each other." 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. 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. Along with W. S. Merwin and Philip Roth, Berry is one of three currently living writers in the Library of America catalog.
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 Jared, 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." 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."
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, 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." 
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." 
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." 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." 
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." 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."
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."
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.'"
|Nathan Coulter||1960||Houghton Mifflin, Boston||North Point (1985), Counterpoint (2008)||1582434093||Also in Three Short Novels, 2002 |
Heavily revised in 1985, including the removal of the last four chapters.
|A Place on Earth||1967||Harcourt, Brace & World, New York||Avon (1969), North Point (1983), Counterpoint (2001)||1582431248||Heavily revised in 1983|
|The Memory of Old Jack||1974||Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, New York||Counterpoint (1999)||1582430438|
|The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership||1986||North Point, San Francisco||0865472165||Also in That Distant Land: The Collected Stories, 2004|
|Remembering||1988||North Point, San Francisco||Counterpoint (2008)||1582434158||Also in Three Short Novels, 2002|
|Fidelity: Five Stories||1992||Pantheon, New York||0679748318||Also 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 Quinch||1994||Pantheon, New York||0679758542||Also in That Distant Land: The Collected Stories, 2004|
|A World Lost||1996||Counterpoint, Washington, DC||1582434182||Also in Three Short Novels, 2002|
|Jayber Crow||2000||Counterpoint, Washington, DC||1582431604|
|Three Short Novels (Nathan Coulter, Remembering, A World Lost)||2002||Counterpoint, Washington, DC||1582431787|
|Hannah Coulter||2004||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC||Counterpoint, Berkeley (2007)||1593760361||In 2007 Shoemaker & Hoard became part of Counterpoint LLC, Berkeley, CA|
|That Distant Land: The Collected Stories||2004||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC||Counterpoint, Berkeley (2007)||159376054X||In 2007 Shoemaker & Hoard became part of Counterpoint LLC, Berkeley, CA|
|Andy Catlett: Early Travels||2006||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC||Counterpoint, Berkeley (2007)||1593761646||In 2007 Shoemaker & Hoard became part of Counterpoint LLC, Berkeley, CA|
|Whitefoot: A Story from the Center of the World||2009||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1582436401||Available online as "Whitefoot", Orion Magazine. January/February 2007|
|A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership||2012||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619021889|
|The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings||2017||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619020382||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 II||2018||Library of America, New York||1598535549||Edited by Jack Shoemaker; twenty-three stories and four novels|
Uncollected short stories
- "Nothing Living Lives Alone". The Threepenny Review. Spring 2011. PEN/O. Henry Prize Story, 2012 
- "Dismemberment". The Threepenny Review. Summer 2015.
- "One Nearly Perfect Day" Sewanee Review. Summer 2015.
- "How It Went" Sewanee Review. Summer 2016.
|The Long-Legged House||1969||Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich; New York||Shoemaker & Hoard (2004), Counterpoint (2012)||69012028|
|The Hidden Wound||1970||Houghton Mifflin||Counterpoint (2010)||1582434867|
|The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge||1971||University Press of Kentucky; Lexington||North Point (1991), Shoemaker & Hoard (2006)||1593760922||Photographs by Ralph Eugene Meatyard|
|A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural & Agricultural||1972||Harcourt, Brace; New York||Shoemaker & Hoard (2004), Counterpoint (2012)||1593760922|
|The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture||1977||Sierra Club, San Francisco||Avon Books (1978), Sierra Club/Counterpoint (third edition, 1996)||0871568772|
|The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural||1981||North Point, San Francisco||Counterpoint (2009)||1582434840|
|Recollected Essays: 1965–1980||1981||North Point, San Francisco||086547026X|
|Standing by Words||1983||North Point, San Francisco||Shoemaker & Hoard (2005), Counterpoint (2011)||1582437459|
|Meeting the Expectations of the Land: Essays in Sustainable Agriculture and Stewardship||1986||North Point, San Francisco||086547172X||Editor with Wes Jackson and Bruce Colman|
|Home Economics: Fourteen Essays||1987||North Point, San Francisco||Counterpoint (2009)||1582434859|
|Descendants and Ancestors of Captain James W. Berry||1990||Hub, Bowling Green, KY||With Laura Berry|
|Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work||1990||University Press of Kentucky||0813109426|
|What Are People For?||1990||North Point, San Francisco||Counterpoint (2010)||1582434875|
|Standing on Earth: Selected Essays||1991||Golgonooza Press, UK||0903880466|
|Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community||1992||Pantheon, New York||0679756515|
|Another Turn of the Crank||1996||Counterpoint, Washington, DC||1887178287|
|Grace: Photographs of Rural America||2000||Safe Harbor Books, New London, NH||0966579836||Photographs by Gregory Spaid, essay by Gene Logsdon, story by Wendell Berry|
|Life Is a Miracle||2000||Counterpoint, Washington, DC||1582431418|
|In the Presence of Fear: Three Essays for a Changed World||2001||Orion, Great Barrington, MA||0913098604|
|The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry||2002||Counterpoint, Washington, DC||1582431469|
|Citizens Dissent: Security, Morality, and Leadership in an Age of Terror||2003||Orion, Great Barrington, MA||0913098620||With David James Duncan. Foreword by Laurie Lane-Zucker|
|Citizenship Papers||2003||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC||Counterpoint (2014)||1619024470|
|Tobacco Harvest: An Elegy||2004||University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY||0813123275||Photographs by James Baker Hall|
|Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Christ's Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness||2005||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington, DC||1593761007|
|The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays||2005||Shoemaker & Hoard||Counterpoint (2006)||1593761198|
|Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food||2009||Counterpoint, Berkeley||158243543X|
|Imagination in Place||2010||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1582437068|
|What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth||2010||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1582436061|
|The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford||2011||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1582437149|
|It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays||2012||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619021145|
|Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder||2014||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619023059|
|Our Only World: Ten Essays||2015||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619024888|
|The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings||2017||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619020382||Preface by Maurice Telleen; three essays (plus a substantial introduction); four short stories; one poem|
|The Broken Ground||1964||Harcourt Brace & World, New York|
|November twenty six nineteen hundred sixty three||1964||Braziller, New York||Art by Ben Shahn|
|Openings||1968||Harcourt Brace & World, New York||0156700123|
|Farming: A Hand Book||1970||Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York||Counterpoint, Berkeley (2011)||1582437637|
|The Country of Marriage||1973||Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York||1619021080|
|An Eastward Look||1974||Sand Dollar, Berkeley|
|Sayings and Doings||1974||Gnomon, Lexington, KY||0917788036|
|Clearing||1977||Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York||0151181500|
|A Part||1980||North Point, San Francisco||0865470081|
|The Wheel||1982||North Point, San Francisco||0865470782|
|The Collected Poems: 1957–1982||1985||North Point, San Francisco||0865471975|
|Sabbaths: Poems||1987||North Point, San Francisco||0865472904|
|Traveling at Home||1988||The Press of Appletree Alley, Lewisburg PA||North Point (1989)||1582437645|
|Entries||1994||Pantheon, New York||Counterpoint, Washington DC (1997)||1887178376|
|The Farm||1995||Larkspur, Monterey KY||Illustrations by Carolyn Whitesel|
|A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979–1997||1998||Counterpoint, Washington DC||1582430063||Later included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013|
|The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry||1999||Counterpoint, Washington DC||1582430373|
|The Gift of Gravity, Selected Poems, 1968–2000||2002||Golgonooza Press, UK|
|Sabbaths 2002||2004||Larkspur, Monterey KY||Later included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013|
|Given: New Poems||2005||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington DC||1593760612||Partially included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013|
|Window Poems||2007||Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington DC||1582436231||Originally published in Openings (1968)|
|The Mad Farmer Poems||2008||Counterpoint, Berkeley||161902277X||Originally published in Farming: A Handbook, The Country of Marriage, A Part, and Entries|
|Sabbaths 2006||2008||Larkspur, Monterey KY||Later included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013|
|Leavings||2010||Counterpoint, Berkeley||158243624X||Partially included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013|
|Sabbaths 2009||2011||Sewanee Review, Spring 2011||Later included in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013|
|New Collected Poems||2012||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1582438153|
|This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New 1979–2013||2013||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619021986|
|Terrapin and Other Poems||2014||Counterpoint, Berkeley||161902425X||Illustrated by Tom Pohrt|
|Sabbaths 2013||2015||Larkspur, Monterey, KY||Wood engravings by Wesley Bates|
|A Small Porch||2016||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619026162||Sabbath 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 Earth||2016||Counterpoint, Berkeley||1619027800||Eight 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.|
- 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 
- Fisher-Smith, Jordan. "Field Observations: An Interview with Wendell Berry'" 
- 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 
- 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)
- Weinreb, Mindy. "A Question a Day: A Written Conversation with Wendell Berry" in Merchant
- 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 
- 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.
- "Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet," Moyers & Company. PBS. October 4, 2013.
- "Wendell Berry, Burkean" Interview with Gracy Olmstead. The American Conservative, February 17, 2015.
Forewords, introductions, prefaces, and afterwords
|Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work||Meine, Curt D.||2010||University of Wisconsin Press||9780299249045|
|At Nature's Pace: Farming and the American Dream||Logsdon, Gene||1994||Pantheon||9780679427414|
|Wendell Berry and Higher Education: Cultivating Virtues of Place||Baker, Jack R. and Jeffrey Bilbro||2017||University Press of Kentucky||978081316902|
|The Caudills of the Cumberlands: Anne's Story of Life with Harry||Cummins, Terry||2013||Butler Books||9781935497684|
|Driftwood Valley: A Woman Naturalist in the Northern Wilderness||Stanwell-Fletcher, Theodora C.||1999||Oregon State University Press||9780870715242|
|Enduring Seeds: Native American Agriculture and Wild Plant Conservation||Nabhan, Gary Paul||2002||University of Arizona Press||9780816522590|
|God and Work: Aspects of Art and Tradition||Keeble, Brian||2009||World Wisdom Books||9781933316680|
|Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's Journal||Kline, David||2001||The Wooster Book Company||9781888683226|
|The Holy Earth||Bailey, Liberty Hyde||2015||Counterpoint||9781619025875|
|Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World||Keogh, Martin (ed.)||2010||North Atlantic Books||9781556439193|
|James Archambeault's Historic Kentucky||Archambeault, James||2006||University Press of Kentucky||9780813124209|
|Kentucky's Natural Heritage: An Illustrated Guide to Biodiversity||Abernathy, Greg (ed.)||2010||University Press of Kentucky||9780813125756|
|Letter to a Young Farmer: How to Live Richly without Wealth on the New Garden Farm||Logsdon, Gene||2017||Chelsea Green Pub.||9781603587259|
|Letters from Larksong: An Amish Naturalist Explores His Organic Farm||Kline, David||2010||Wooster Book Co.||9781590982013|
|Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight||Wirzba, Norman||2006||Brazos Press||9781587431654|
|Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness||Reece, Erik||2006||Riverbed||9781594482366|
|The Man Who Created Paradise||Logsdon, Gene||2001||Ohio University Press||9780821414071|
|The Meat You Eat: How Corporate Farming Has Endangered America's Food Supply||Midriff, Ken||2005||St. Martin's Griffin||9780312325367|
|Missing Mountains||Johansen, Kristin (ed.)||2005||Wind Publications||9781893239494|
|My Mercy Encompasses All: The Koran's Teachings on Compassion, Peace and Love||Shah-Kazemi, Reza||2007||Counterpoint||9781593761448|
|Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes Jackson||Jackson, Wes||2011||Counterpoint||9781582437002|
|The One-Straw Revolution||Fukuoka, Masanobu||2009||NYRB Classics||9781590173138|
|The Pattern of a Man & Other Stories||Still, James||2001||Gnomon Press||9780917788758|
|Pedestrian Photographs||Merrill, Larry||2008||University of Rochester Press||9781580462907|
|The Prince's Speech: On the Future of Food||HRH The Prince of Wales||2012||Rodale Press||9781609614713|
|Ralph Eugene Meatyard||Gassan, Arnold||1970||Gnomon Press||ASIN: B001GECZNY|
|Round of a Country Year: A Farmer's Day Book||Kline, David||2017||Counterpoint||9781619029248|
|Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible||Davis, Ellen F.||2008||Cambridge University Press||9780521732239|
|Soil And Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture||Howard, Albert||2007||University Press of Kentucky||9780813191713|
|Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries||Cook, Mariana||2011||Damiani||9788862081696|
|That Wondrous Pattern: Essays on Poetry and Poets||Raine, Kathleen||2017||Counterpoint||9781619029231|
|The Embattled Wilderness: The Natural and Human History of the Robinson Forest and the Fight for Its Future||Reece, Erik and James J. Krupka||2013||University of Georgia Press||9780820341231|
|The Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water||Van der Ryn, Sim||1978||Ecological Design Press||9781890132583|
|To a Young Writer||Stegner, Wallace||2009||Red Butte Press||9780874809985|
|Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture||Smith, J. Russell||1987||Island Press||9780933280441|
|Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape||Hanson, David T.||1997||Aperture||9780893817268|
|We All Live Downstream: Writings About Mountaintop Removal||Howard, Jason||2009||MotesBooks||9781934894071|
|The Woodcuts of Harlan Hubbard||Hubbard, Harlan||1994||University Press of Kentucky||9780813118796|
- ^"Wendell E. Berry biography". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
- ^"Dayton Literary Peace Prize names distinguished achievement award recipient". Dayton Daily News. August 12, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
- ^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.
- ^Berry, Wendell (2018). Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories, The Civil War to World War II. New York: Library of America. pp. 990–991. ISBN 9781598535549.
- ^Berry, Wendell. My Conversation with Gurney Norman. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- ^Menand, Louis (January 7, 2009). "Show or Tell: A Critic at Large: The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 13, 2009.
- ^ abcAngyal, Andrew (1995). Wendell Berry. New York: Twayne. p. 139. ISBN 0-8057-4628-5.
- ^Davenport, Guy (1991). "Tom and Gene". Father Louie: Photographs of Thomas Merton by Ralph Eugene Meatyard. New York: Timken. ISBN 978-0943221090.
- ^Berry, Wendell (2018). Wendell Berry: Port William Novels & Stories, The Civil War to World War II. New York: Library of America. p. 994. ISBN 9781598535549.