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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.

About The Author

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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.