Imagination in Place
A writer who can imagine the “community belonging to its place” is one who has applied his knowledge and citizenship to achieve the goal to which Wendell Berry has always aspired—to be a native to his own local culture. And for Berry, what is “local, fully imagined, becomes universal,” and the “local” is to know one’s place and allow the imagination to inspire and instill “a practical respect for what is there besides ourselves.”
In Imagination in Place, we travel to the local cultures of several writers important to Berry’s life and work, from Wallace Stegner’s great West and Ernest Gaines’ Louisiana plantation life to Donald Hall’s New England, and on to the Western frontier as seen through the Far East lens of Gary Snyder. Berry laments today’s dispossessed and displaced, those writers and people with no home and no citizenship, but he argues that there is hope for the establishment of new local cultures in both the practical and literary sense.
Rich with Berry’s personal experience of life as a Kentucky agrarian, the collection includes portraits of a few of America’s most imaginative writers, including James Still, Hayden Carruth, Jane Kenyon, John Haines, and several others.
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The first collection of essays I read by Wendell Berry. He makes me think, and feeds my desire to slow down and enjoy now, instead of rushing and trying to catch the future.