Here the farmer-poet of Henry County pays tribute to the physician-poet of Rutherford. Wendell Berry has always lived in a "provincial" part of Kentucky that did not possess an established literary culture. In his effort to ensure that his poetry remains true to his place, Berry finds an enduring example in the work of William Carlos Williams, whose commitment to his own New Jersey environment proved inspirational.
"Berry's superb study reminds us that Williams remains our contemporary not only for the lively cadences and fresh imagery that animate his poems, but for the ethical imperative of his example: to know ourselves as creatures of a particular place and, through that grounded knowledge, to develop the arts that will enable us to live in it over the long haul."—Sewanee Review
"[Williams] is indisputably Berry's great model, though Berry is a rural, Williams an urban, poet, as Berry verifies in his thorough discussion of Williams' poetic practice. Williams formulated his own poetics in his poetry, and through his conceptions of the imagination and its work (which Berry saliently compares to Coleridge's much more famous ones), he honored the great modernist injunction to 'make it new'; that is, Berry understands Williams to be saying, to participate in the original work of creation. Generously quoting many of Williams' best lines, tenderly confessing when he doesn't understand Williams (e.g., Williams' elusive 'variable foot'), and referring to his own life and work to clarify what he thinks about Williams, Berry produces a work of aesthetics more than evaluation, of love more than critique."—Booklist