People & Places: Author Wendell Berry to be honored at 2012 Helmerich award on Dec. 7
BY DANNA SUE WALKER World Staff Writer
Sunday, November 04, 2012
11/04/12 at 3:48 AM
When author Wendell Berry comes to town to accept the Tulsa Library Trust's 2012 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award on Dec. 7, he will bring with him his reputation as a principled presence in American letters, as well as that of being an outspoken critic of industrialized farming.
The award, which consists of a $40,000 cash prize and an engraved crystal book, gives formal recognition, on behalf of the Tulsa County community, to internationally acclaimed authors who have written a distinguished body of work and made a major contribution to the field of literature and letters.
Berry will speak at the black tie awards dinner and will give a free public presentation at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 8 at Central Library, Fourth Street and Denver Avenue.
At the public event, he will talk about his life and writings, answer questions from the audience and sign books. Copies of his works will be available for purchase.
Berry has spent the past 50 years working the land settled by his forebears, while writing great works of fiction, poetry and essays extolling the virtues of farming, community, rural life and traditional values.
During his career, the 78-year-old Kentuckian, who farms 125 acres near Port Royal, Ky., with his wife, Tanya, has made the decline of rural America largely the subject of his more than 50 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He also has received numerous awards and honors, including being selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities to deliver the 2012 Jefferson Lecture. The lecture is now available in Berry's latest collection of essays titled "It All Turns on Affection," released in September of this year.
Berry's writings include "Nathan Coulter," set in Port William, a fictitious town in Kentucky; "Jayber Crow "; " Hannah Coulter " and "Andy Catlett: Early Travels."
To complement the Distinguished Author Series, Tulsa City-County Library is offering "Novel Talk Presents: A Place on Earth," featuring community leaders reading selections from Berry's works and sharing personal responses, on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at Central Library.
Plus, the Friends of the Tulsa City-County Libraries will present "A Wendell Berry Sampler" as part of the popular Books Sandwiched In series on Dec. 3 at 12:10 p.m. at Central Library.
Tulsa Library Trust and Tulsa City-County Library are the event's sponsors.
Among the many past recipients of the award are John Grisham, John Hope Franklin, Neil Simon, Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer, Eudora Welty, John le Carré, Saul Bellow, Toni Morrison and John Updike.
The Tulsa Library Trust is a public foundation created by private contributions to benefit Tulsa City-County Library. Income generated by the trust's endowment is used to fund projects and purchase materials that the library could not afford through its operating budget.
Ken Lackey is chairman of the 2012 Distinguished Author Selection Committee.
Cheryl Chambers is award dinner chairwoman and Kathie Coyle is president of the Tulsa Library Trust board.
Committee chairwomen for the dinner include Susie Tatum-Woody, Janell Helmerich, Susie Wallace, Lynda Brownson, Helen Jo Hardwick, Julie Watson, Pattie Bowman, Lynn Peacher, Janie Funk, Carrie Vesely Henderson, Kristin Bender, Ellen Duecker and Peggy Helmerich.
For more information about Berry's visit to Tulsa or the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, visit tulsaworld.com/helmerich award or call 918-549-7323.
Original Print Headline: Author event set for Dec. 7
Gary Shaffer (left), Peggy Helmerich, Lynn Peacher and Cheryl Chambers prepare for the December Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award events honoring Wendell Berry. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World