Wendell Berry: The Poet of Place

PHOTO: GUY MENDES. Berry at home on Lanes Landing Farm in Port Royal, Kentucky.

Wendell Berry in Garden & Gun

When I was young, I picked up some expert’s advice that a writer needed to write facing a bare wall so as not to be distracted. And so I tried writing in a library carrel, in which I was constantly distracted by the suspicion that I was missing something interesting that was probably taking place elsewhere. For me, that didn’t work. To write I’ve always needed at least a big window, in warm weather a porch, on a day that is warm and dry a good sitting place in the woods. I suppose I’ve needed something of interest to look up at.

But I think my work also has benefited from distractions. There are times when my writing has had to come second to my family or my neighbors or my horses or my sheep. These reminders of things more important than writing have kept my writing firmly placed in the workaday world, where it belongs.

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