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Book Review

‘Terrapin And Other Poems’


Wendell Berry, who turned 80 this year, has written more than 50 books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Berry is an award-winning author, the recipient of numerous esteemed prizes from a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1962 to the recently-earned National Humanities Medal. His writing has had great influence on contemporary poetry as well as on the American populace in general. He is a crusader for community and family commitment, a prophet for sustainable agriculture

‘Terrapin And Other Poems’ By Wendell Berry

‘Terrapin And Other Poems’
By Wendell Berry

and a devotee to the earth, nature and its creatures.

A native of Henry County, Kentucky, Berry lives and farms there with his wife. For decades, Berry has taken a walk each Sunday, and poems have been created as a result. This new collection, “Terrapin And Other Poems,” showcases his observations of the natural world and his reflections as the seasons emerge. In “The Terrapin,” he requests: “Ponder this wonder under his dome/Who, wandering, is always home.” “October 10” describes the quiet sound of the leaves falling and how, “Under their loosening bright gold, the sycamore limbs bleach whiter.” He laments the cutting of trees for development in “Walnut St., Oak St., Sycamore St., Etc.” and begs himself to “keep aware” in the “Sorrel Filly” so that the beauty of nature — bird songs, asters, crickets — is not missed and “the time (I) have to be here” is not wasted. In “The Finches,” as spring approaches, he anticipates that “our minds go free of the ground into the shining of trees.” “March Snow” perfectly describes the hush of a morning snow — its “still fall” where “only the river” moves.

The book is illustrated by Tom Pohrt, a self-taught artist who lives in Michigan. He selected the 21 poems featured in the book, and Berry advised him regarding the natural history of the plants and animals he writes about in the poems. Pohrt’s full-color watercolors gorgeously capture the essence of the natural wonders that Berry describes. The companionship of writing and watercolor result in an elegant work of art, a beautifully-designed volume that makes a cherished keepsake for any book lover. CV

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Review by Fay Jones
Counterpoint Press
Pub Date: 11/11/14
$ 25
49 pp

Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents and a beloved children’s librarian who wore the thickest glasses ever manufactured. Ms. Jones once won a coupon for a free ice cream cone after her suggestion for a name for the local Reading Is Fundamental mascot was selected.

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