President Obama bestowed the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to this year’s honorees in a White House ceremony yesterday that included Van Cliburn, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, Quincy Jones, and, here, James Taylor:
But I was especially glad to see Wendell Berry honored:
Biographical sketches of Berry usually include some combination of novelist, poet, conservationist, and farmer — none of which even in combination quite capture who he is or what he has come to represent.
As a counterpoint to yesterday’s formal ceremony with the President in the East Room of the White House, consider this: Last month Berry was among a group of activists who occupied the governor’s office in Kentucky to protest the mountaintop-removal coal mining that is decimating remote areas in his home state.
If you haven’t read any of Berry’s essays, you should.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.