Wendell Berry has spent the past 50 years working the land settled by his forebears, while writing great works of fiction, poetry and essays extolling the virtues of farming, community, rural life and traditional values.
Berry is coming to Tulsa in December to accept the Tulsa Library Trust’s 2012 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. Berry will receive the Helmerich award on Dec. 7 at a black-tie dinner and will give a free public presentation at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 at Central Library, Fourth Street and Denver Avenue. At the public event, he will talk about his life and writings, answer questions from the audience and sign books. Copies of his works will be available for purchasing.
The 78-year-old Kentuckian, who farms 125 acres near Port Royal, Ky., with his wife, Tanya, has established himself as a principled presence in American letters, as well as an outspoken critic of industrialized farming. During his prestigious career, he has made the decline of rural America largely the subject of his more than 50 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He also has received numerous awards and honors, including being selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to deliver the 2012 Jefferson Lecture. The lecture is now available in Berry’s latest collection of essays titled “It All Turns on Affection.”
Berry began his noted career in 1960 with the release of the novel “Nathan Coulter,” set in Port William, a fictitious town located in Kentucky. Port William also is the backdrop for many of Berry’s short stories, as well as a number of his other novels, including “Jayber Crow,” “Hannah Coulter” and “Andy Catlett: Early Travels.”
To complement the Distinguished Author Series, Tulsa City-County Library is offering “Novel Talk Presents: A Place on Earth,” featuring community leaders reading selections from Berry’s works and sharing personal responses, on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at Central Library. Featured readers are Donna Farrior, member of the Distinguished Author Award Committee; the Hon. William C. Kellough, district judge; Jeff Martin, co-founder, BookSmart Tulsa; and Heather Oakley, founder and director, Global Gardens.
Plus, the Friends of the Tulsa City-County Libraries will present “A Wendell Berry Sampler” as part of the popular Books Sandwiched In series on Monday, Dec. 3 at 12:10 p.m. at Central Library. In addition, an exhibit depicting the life and writings of Berry will be on display at Central Library in November through Dec. 8.
For more information about Berry’s visit to Tulsa or the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, visit http://helmerichaward.org or call 918-549-7323.