Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Have you used a Wendell Berry book or poem in your teaching?



If you have, let me know what
you used. I am coleading a workshop
next Friday at the Childlight USA
Conference
on Wendell Berry's writings.
Or have you a favorite book of his that
you would highly recommend?
Any thoughts?
He is a voice to listen to and hear what
matters.

This is from a wonderful article on Berry
called "Field Observations":

As we begin to descend, I am thinking about boyhood and Berry's poetry, and I ask Berry if he agrees that school children should be reintroduced to the lost institution of memorizing and reciting poems.

"Yes," he replies, "you've got to furnish their minds."

The idea of poetry as furniture expands within my imagination and for weeks, I think about a poem committed to memory as an old chest of drawers in the corner of a child's room. At first the thing is simply a place to put clothes. With time, the grown man, or grown woman learns to see more of it: toolmarks left by the hand of a long-dead craftsman, a cornice molding around its top in a shape found on ancient Greek temples. And by gazing at its sturdiness for so many years, he or she knows something about how to make things that last.




4 comments:

podso said...

I like this. The old chest of drawers.

Nancy said...

Bonnie,
Did you read An Altar in the World for the conference? She talks about using Berry in her classes in the last chapter, I think. Say, I need someone to help me with bringing a few books for one of my talks. I'll email you...

Amber Benton said...

Looking forward to this time with you. Greatest thing about furniture is that it can be rearranged... I like rearranging, it works with words and ideas, too.

bwilliams said...

I am so grateful to my daughter Amber for introducing me to Berry (I love using this name as it belonged to two well loved people--my late grandfather and brother were both named Berry). His is a sane voice of reason in a world gone mad. I have used poems from his "A Timbered Choir" in my Appalachian studies class to draw attention to the demise of the small farm. His writing is most relevent to our discussions of the breakdown of community in Appalachia and to what the repurcussions of this deterioration may be. I am currently reading "The Art of the Common Place". This one truly hits close to home. It will likely turn up in discussions for next school year. I would like to assign some of the essays as prompts for journal responses.Public school students need a good dose of Berry tonic!