Look & See

Wendell Berry : On Poetry

How to be a Poet (to remind myself)

By, Wendell Berry

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge, 

skill - more of each

than you have - inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers 

who like your work,

doubt their judgement.


Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places. 


Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came. 


From, Given Poems


WENDELL BERRY, writer, poet, teacher, farmer, and outspoken citizen of an endangered world, gives us a compelling vision of the good and true life. Passionate, eloquent, and painfully articulate, in more than fifty works – novels, short stories, poems and essays -- he celebrates a life lived in close communion with neighbors and the earth while addressing many of our most urgent cultural problems. A fierce and caring critic of American culture and a long-time trusted guide for those seeking a better, healthier, saner world, he has farmed a hillside in his native Henry County, Kentucky, together with his wife, for more than forty years. 
Over the years, Berry has received the highest honors including the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, a National Institute of Arts and Letters award for writing, and theAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award. Much has been said and written about his work (via).


A documentary on him, his work, and his farm life is coming out this fall. It's entitled "Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry." You can watch the trailer here

"As I see," Wendell Berry writes, "the farmer standing in his field, is not isolated as simply a component of a production machine. He stands where lots of lines cross – cultural lines. The traditional farmer, that is the farmer who was first independent, who first fed himself off his farm and then fed other people, who farmed with his family and who passed the land on down to people who knew it and had the best reasons to take care of it... that farmer stood at the convergence of traditional values... our values" (via). 


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