SLIDESHOW: Best And Brightest

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:

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But I was especially glad to see Wendell Berry honored:image content

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.