The Mad Farmer Poems

Wendell Berry's Mad Farmer debuted in 1967 and still carries with him a distinctive whiff of that era -- a revolutionary naturalist, an agrarian anarchist, proud to skillfully till both soil and his woman (and to apply the same verb to both acts). Religion, rooted in rural life, responsible stewardship of the land, and family bonds remain the lifelong preoccupations of Berry. The Mad Farmer poems, written over many years and brought together in this oversize edition along with distinctive engravings by Abigail Rorer, articulate these concerns in a character who is both prophet and political leader: This guy has a "Revolution," "Prayers and Sayings," a "Love Song," two "Manifestos" (including a "Liberation Front" and a "First Amendment"), and finally "Secedes from the Union." The character of the Mad Farmer, though, is not mere stand-in for Berry, writes his friend Ed McClanahan, who also spent decades in Port Royal, Kentucky, the inspiration for Berry's fictional town of Port William. He is the classic "Holy Fool;" the "joke" of the poems, writes the author, "is that in a society gone insane with industrial greed and insecurity, a man exuberantly sane will appear 'mad.'" Gathering the like-minded "in their own nation small enough for a story/or song to travel across in an hour," he promises liberation "from the wage-slavery of the helplessly well-employed." His final line concludes: "though for realization we may wait / a thousand or a million years."

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.