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Rendering Us Again in Affection

An Interview With Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is the author of over 40 books and has been writing about conservation, community, and the necessity of good farming for over four decades.  His novels include The Memory of Old Jack, Jayber Crow, and Hannah Coulter; among his collections of poems are A Timbered Choir and Given; and some of his more recent books of nonfiction are Life Is a Miracle (a response to Edward O. Wilson’s Consilience), Citizenship Papers, and a small book of extracts from the Gospels, Blessed Are The Peacemakers: Christ’s Teachings about Love, Compassion & Forgiveness.  He is a native of Port Royal, Kentucky, where he has lived most of his life.  From it he has drawn the imagined world of his fiction, Port William.  He and his wife, Tanya, raise sheep on a farm overlooking the Kentucky River, and both of their children live and farm with their own families nearby.  He spoke to contributing editor Katherine Dalton at his home in April.

Why do you write fiction in addition to essays and poetry?

To take that question seriously we’re going to have to wander around awhile, maybe.  But to start with I’m a storyteller.  I like to tell stories.  This country’s full of stories, and it has a storytelling style that’s economical and loves a punch line.  Both my grandmothers...

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