author Berry to speak
in Madison at book reading event
will appear in March at the library
(January 2012) Kentuckys award-winning
poet and author Wendell Berry rarely gives interviews and does not like
public speaking. In fact, at age 77 it is hard to get him off his 125-acre
Port Royal, Ky., farm in rural Henry County. But Berry has agreed to
take part in a special event coming up March 31 in Madison, Ind.
At the request of event organizer Bob Canida, Berry will discuss his
book, Hannah Coulter, during the One Book, One Community
lecture series at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library, 420 W.
Main St., Madison. The event is sponsored by the City of Madison Human
Relations Commission in conjunction with the library.
A Henry County native and graduate and retired writing professor of
the University of Kentucky, Berry is a nationally known writer and man
of letters. He has written numerous poems, short stories, essays and
more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books.
He was a friend of the late Trimble County, Ky., writer and artist,
Harlan Hubbard, and even wrote a book about Hubbard titled, Harlan
Hubbard: Life and Work (1990). It was published by the University
Press of Kentucky.
Berry was the keynote speaker several years ago at a weekend event dedicated
to Hubbard and held at Hanover College.
Last March, Berry traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive The National
Humanities Medal, presented to him by President Barack Obama. Other
2010 recipients of the medal were authors Harper Lee and Joyce Carol
Oates, singer James Taylor and actress Meryl Streep.
Berry has won numerous other awards for both his writing
and activism on environmental and agricultural issues.
Berrys book, Hannah Coulter, will be the topic of
his discussion in March. Attendees are urged to read the book before
the event. The book offers realistic depictions of characters and explores
the relationships between individuals, between the individual and the
community, and between the individual and place. The story, set in fictional
Port William, offers a palpable sense of place and reverence for the
land both common themes in much of Berrys writings.
Hannah Coulter is a tale told in the voice of an old woman.
Coulter reflects on her life. Twice widowed, she has experienced much
loss, yet has never bowed her head in defeat. She recalls her childhood,
young love and loss, and raising her children. She contemplates the
deterioration of community the way things were, are and might
have been. Coulter derives her fundamental strength from the community
the membership of Port William.
The idea for the One Book, One Community concept was started
through the Seattle Public Library to allow people in a community to
have a common point to share, discuss and interact. Now there are hundreds
of communities across the nation that have similar programs. Copies
of Hannah Coulter will be available for loan at the library
and also available for sale at Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main
St., in Madison.
Hopefully, many people will read the book in the next few months
and then attend the event, said Canida, a Madison dentist. Perhaps
some of the book clubs in town will choose it for their discussions
Berry is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. on that Saturday, March 31 and
lead a discussion about the book on the theme of community and
The Human Relations Commission is a city commission established primarily
to hear complaints of discrimination in the community. The commission
also seeks to promote community by sharing interactive themes and also
offering forums related to local human relations topics. In addition
to Canida, the commissions other members include Sue Livers, Bob
Pimlott, Claude Routon, Betty Todd and Shirley Kloepfer.
For more information about this event or
the Human Relations Commission, call Bob Canida at (812) 265-4766.
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