I have been enjoying the book by Wendell Berry that I bought, New Collected Poems, in part because many of our “issues” are similar, in part because we also have common roots. My mother’s father’s last name was Berry, and while his people recently are in Kentucky, that’s not far off from where mine are from: Iowa, Ohio, and South Dakota. Looks to me, reading through that section of our genealogy, that ours were large families, and they moved westward. I do not know when our Berrys first came to North America; the ancestral chart only goes back to the middle of the 1800s. My mother’s mother’s people first arrived with the Mayflower and the Winthrop Fleet (1621 and 1630, respectively). Wendell Berry’s birth year falls about half way between mine and my mother’s. [It’s my understanding that my father’s father’s people, Mountain Sami, came to the United States from Norway in the 1800s, settling first in Upper Michigan and then in Iowa, before traveling by wagon to Minnesota, east of the lower Red River Valley of the North.]

Berry’s poetry, from what I have read so far, seems to be narrative, prose poetry rather than in any traditional “poetic” style. Except for writing exercises (such as my addition to 17-syllable, “not haiku” poetry), I write (what I think of as) prose poetry, using line breaks to emphasize, stress, or group my words, hoping to shape the reader’s understanding. I’m not much for rhyming, and I am amazed by the ability of others to express themselves in rhyming verses.



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