Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry

Past Event: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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SAL Presents

Co-Presented by North Cascades Institute. Sponsored by Reed, Longyear, Malnati & Ahrens, PLLC.

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.

Berry first gained literary recognition as a poet. In volumes such as The Broken Ground,Openings: Poems, Farming: A Handbook, and The Country of Marriage, he wrote of the countryside, the turning of the seasons, the routines of the farm, the life of the family, and the spiritual aspects of the natural world. Reviewing Collected Poems, 1957-1982, New York Times Book Review contributor David Ray called Berry’s style “resonant” and “authentic,” and claimed that the poet “can be said to have returned American poetry to a Wordsworthian clarity of purpose…Many of Mr. Berry’s short poems are as fine as any written in our time.”

It is perhaps Berry’s essays that have brought him the broadest readership. In one of his most popular early collections, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, he argues that agriculture is the foundation of America’s greater culture. He makes a strong case against the U.S. government’s agricultural policy, which promotes practices leading to overproduction, pollution, and soil erosion. Another essay collection, Recollected Essays, 1965-1980, has been compared by several critics to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. 

In Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eight Essays, Berry continues to berate those who carelessly exploit the natural environment and damage the underlying moral fabric of communities.

Farming and community are central to Berry’s fiction as well as his poetry and essays. Most of his novels and short stories are set in the fictional Kentucky town of Port William. Like his real-life hometown, Port Royal, Port William is a long-established farming community situated near the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers. In books such as Nathan Coulter, A Place on Earth, The Wild Birds, and Jayber Crow, Berry presents the lives of seven generations of farm families.

Born in Henry County, Kentucky in 1934, where the families of both of his parents farmed for five generations, Berry earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in 1956, and his Master’s degree in 1957. He went on to attend Stanford University’s Creative Writing program as a Wallace Stegner fellow. He taught for many years at the University of Kentucky, but eventually resigned in favor of full-time farming. Berry has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Vachel Lindsay Prize for Poetry (1962), a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1965), a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing (1971), the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award (1987), membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers (1991), the Ingersoll Foundation’s T. S. Eliot Award (1994), the John Hay Award (1997), the Lyndhurst Prize (1997), and the Aitken-Taylor Award for Poetry from The Sewanee Review (1998). Berry’s latest works include The Mad Farmer Poems(2008) and Whitefoot (2009), which features illustrations by Davis Te Selle.  (Biography excerpted from The Poetry Foundation’s website.)

Selected WorkFictionHannah Coulter (2004)That Distant Land (2004)Jayber Crow (2000)NonfictionSex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays (1992)What Are People For? (1990)The Hidden Wound (1970)PoetryLeavings (2009)

LinksEssay: The Agrarian Standard (Orion Magazine)http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/115/ Essay: The Idea of a Local Economy (Organic Consumers Association)http://www.organicconsumers.org/btc/berry.cfm Biography (Poets.org)http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/675 Video: Wendell Berry speaking at George Washington Universityhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJN7zb0oCvc Essay: Why I Am Not Going To Buy A Computerhttp://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/berrynot.html

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

Parking
The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.

Accessibility

All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at sal@lectures.org or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.