Renowned writer Wendell Berry to speak at Centre as Humana Scholar

Published 4:00 pm Monday, November 7, 2016

By Elizabeth Trollinger

Centre College

Renowned and beloved writer and activist Wendell Berry comes to Centre College in November as a Humana/Grace Doherty Library scholar.

Email newsletter signup

Berry will give a convocation address and read from his work 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14 at in Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts. The convocation is free and open to the public with no tickets required. The following day, Berry will discuss his work in a more informal gathering in the Doherty Library’s J. David Grissom Reading Room at 11:30 a.m.

A Kentucky native, Berry is the author of more than 40 books, including works of fiction, essays and poetry. Some of his most well-known works are Nathan Coulter, A Place On Earth, Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter, The Memory of Old Jack, The Unsettling Of America and Our Only World, among many others. He has spoken and read from his works several times in the past.

Berry has been recognized nationally for his work, including recently receiving the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle. He has previously been honored with such awards as the Vachel Lindsay Prize for Poetry, the Alan Tate Poetry Prize, the Sidney Lanier Prize and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award. Berry has also been awarded the National Humanities Medal.

In 2015, Berry became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. He became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013 and received the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award the same year. Among his other honors include the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Writing and the Roosevelt Institute Freedom Medal.

An elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Berry earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from the University of Kentucky. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University’s creative writing program, where a seminar he enrolled in led by Stegner himself also included students who went on to become literary luminaries, like Larry McMurtry and Ken Kesey.

Berry was granted an honorary degree from Centre in 1978, when he also gave the Commencement address. He also served as Centre’s writer-in-residence for six weeks in 1977.

Over the years, Berry has taught English at New York University’s University College and at the University of Kentucky. He also continually completes activist work, particularly fighting for environmental and moral issues. Berry has also farmed at his homestead for over 50 years. The Berry Center, established in New Castle, Ky., in 2011, honors this activism and work by advocating for farmers, land conservation and healthy regional economies.

The Humana Visiting Scholar program was funded through a gift to Centre from the Humana Foundation, a philanthropic branch of Louisville-based healthcare corporation Humana Inc. Previous Humana Scholars at the College have included Ayana Mathis, Wendell Berry, Joel Pett, Peter Stearns and Silas House.