The Mad Farmer Poems

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Overview


During the otherwise quiet course of his life as a poet, Wendell Berry has become “mad” at what contemporary society has made of its land, its communities, and its past. This anger reaches its peak in the poems of the Mad Farmer, taking the shape of manifestos, meditations, and insults that are often funny in spite of themselves. The Mad Farmer is a character as necessary, perhaps, as he is regrettable.

Gathered here are poems from Berry's collections offering the teachings and...

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The Mad Farmer Poems

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Overview


During the otherwise quiet course of his life as a poet, Wendell Berry has become “mad” at what contemporary society has made of its land, its communities, and its past. This anger reaches its peak in the poems of the Mad Farmer, taking the shape of manifestos, meditations, and insults that are often funny in spite of themselves. The Mad Farmer is a character as necessary, perhaps, as he is regrettable.

Gathered here are poems from Berry's collections offering the teachings and bitcheries of this amazing American voice. With the success of Window Poems, Bob Baris returns to design and produce an edition illustrated with etchings by Abigail Rover.

Ed McClanahan offers an introduction wherein he clears up the inspiration behind the Mad Farmer himself taking more credit than he is clearly due with Berry weighing in with an apology-and characteristic exaggeration. Also included are poems by James Baker Hall and William Kloefkorn showing how the Mad Farmer has escaped into the work of others.

The whole is a wonderful testimony to the power of anger and humor to bring even the most terrible consequences into a focus otherwise impossible to obtain.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Wendell Berry

“Berry enjoins us to look at common parts of creation--trees, rivers, and birds--but meditates upon them with such grace and insight as to ensure that we will never see them as commonplace again.”—Splendid Magazine

“Berry continues to offer a compelling vision of the good and the true life.”—Boston Globe

“Berry is the prophetic American voice of our day.”—Christian Science Monitor

“Berry's craftsmanship remains impeccable.”—Booklist

The Barnes & Noble Review
Wendell Berry's Mad Farmer debuted in 1967 and still carries with him a distinctive whiff of that era -- a revolutionary naturalist, an agrarian anarchist, proud to skillfully till both soil and his woman (and to apply the same verb to both acts). Religion, rooted in rural life, responsible stewardship of the land, and family bonds remain the lifelong preoccupations of Berry. The Mad Farmer poems, written over many years and brought together in this oversize edition along with distinctive engravings by Abigail Rorer, articulate these concerns in a character who is both prophet and political leader: This guy has a "Revolution," "Prayers and Sayings," a "Love Song," two "Manifestos" (including a "Liberation Front" and a "First Amendment"), and finally "Secedes from the Union." The character of the Mad Farmer, though, is not mere stand-in for Berry, writes his friend Ed McClanahan, who also spent decades in Port Royal, Kentucky, the inspiration for Berry's fictional town of Port William. He is the classic "Holy Fool;" the "joke" of the poems, writes the author, "is that in a society gone insane with industrial greed and insecurity, a man exuberantly sane will appear 'mad.'" Gathering the like-minded "in their own nation small enough for a story/or song to travel across in an hour," he promises liberation "from the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed." His final line concludes: "though for realization we may wait / a thousand or a million years." -- Amy Benfer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781619022775
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 1/14/2014
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 312,772
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author


Wendell Berry, an essayist, novelist, and poet, has been honored with the T. S. Eliot Award, the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, and the John Hay Award of the Orion Society. He lives with his wife on a farm in Henry County, KY.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    Will hold your attention and demand to be completed. Great read.

    Mr. Berry is I think someone who speaks to those of us who have an affinity and a deep love for Mother Earth. He is very adept at getting the reader to understand what it is that he is about . Well written, and I plan to read it over several more times just for the joy of hearing thoughts that I share put into such order.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2011

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