Earlier this summer, Library of America had a rare opportunity to celebrate the life’s work of a living author in his own community when it co-sponsored a public conversation in Louisville, Kentucky, between Wendell Berry and his daughter Mary Berry, Executive Director of the Berry Center. The June 26 event at Crescent Hill Baptist Church centered on the new two-volume LOA collection What I Stand On: The Collected Essays of Wendell Berry 1969–2017 as well as the state of agriculture and culture today.
The Berrys’ talk was moderated by Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods and now an investor and advisor to new American food companies. Robb provided publication support for What I Stand On and endowed one of the volumes to keep it permanently in print with a gift to the Guardians of American Letters Fund.
Local sponsor Carmichael’s Bookstore issued free tickets to the event on its website and within days had a capacity crowd of more than six hundred ardent fans.
The panel discussion was preceded by a private reception and a chamber music performance of “The Porch Over the River,” a setting of Berry’s 1966 poem of the same name by composer Daniel Gilliam that was performed by baritone Chad Sloan accompanied by clarinetist Carrie RavenStem and pianist Jessica Dorman.
Enjoy photos of the event below.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
—Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” (1973)
All photos: J. Tyler Franklin.