"New Collected Poems" allows the playful, musical side of Wendell Berry's being to shine through.
For several decades, from his farm in rural Kentucky, Wendell Berry has written essays, fiction, and poetry extolling the value of local places in nurturing community, sustaining the earth, and deepening human spirituality. He’s been a consistent critic of modern industrial and consumer culture, which he sees as almost invariably hostile to local communities and the natural world.
The writer Scott Russell Sanders, a great admirer of Berry, has said that Berry’s essays combine “a countryman’s knowledge and a deacon’s severity.” Sanders’ observation offers an invitation to Berry’s essays, but also a slight disclaimer. There’s nothing casual or chatty in a Wendell Berry essay. It’s all business, building its arguments brick by brilliant brick, but with an editorial earnestness that leaves little room for flights of fancy or whimsical asides. Not since George Orwell has a writer penned essays with such moral clarity and unflinching urgency.