Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wendell Berry, Poetry, and Nature

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to see Author, Poet, Activist, and Farmer Wendell Berry speak at Yale University. While, I was only slightly familiar with his work prior to this event, I was greatly impressed with his capacity to verbalize and enumerate the different aspects of what makes thinking and acting so important. Of course, that is an incredibly vague statement. Apparently, I'm not quite as good as Wendell Berry. But then again that is a short list of people who are.

Caring about the environment and local communities has always been a passion of mine. Berry pointed or during his talk how we have lost values in both of these institutions and the depreciation of both goes hand in hand. As an educator, I'm not only witness to a growing unfamiliarity with all things natural, but also to all things local. My students are always telling me that they can't wait to leave Connecticut and they can't wait to see the world.

I'm not going to lie and say that I was any different at their age, but what they are showing me is the disconnect between themselves and their environs and community. A disconnect that can Anna had proved to be problematic and rope with troubles, issues, and pitfalls. How do we repair these rifts? How do we heal the great schism of our communities and our planet?

I am going to so myself here. I an starting to built my reading list for 2014 and Berry is going to find himself on it. I might throw some Bill McKibben and Paolo Freire on there as well. So I guess my official review of Berry's talk: Go see him whenever possible. Listen, laugh, and think and be prepared to be left with some nagging issues and thoughts that in the end will hopefully bring some wisdom your way.

Wendell Berry in conversation with Jeffrey Brenzel and Mary Evelyn Tucker (Photo by Michael Marsland)
Wendell Berry at Yale (C) Michael Marsland

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