“Restoring Appalachia.” McKay Jenkins writes about different ways that residents of coal-country are trying to grow food, make money, and restore the damaged ecosystem: “Making a living without coal means being creative.”
“The Country’s First Climate Change Casualties?” Elaina Plott visits Tangier Island, home to a multi-generational community working to forestall erosion and—depending on whom you ask—rising sea levels.
“My Ántonia at 100.” Bradley Birzer praises Willa Cather’s novel (reserving, however, his highest praise for what is indeed her best work, Death Comes for the Archbishop). Still, as was also noted in our virtual pages, the centenary of My Ántonia is well-worth celebrating: “Few if any novels have so captured the spirit of the American character, in all of its majesty and nobility.”
“Persuasion in the Age of Twitter.” David G. Bonagura Jr. recommends a new anthology of Cicero’s writings as a needed tonic for our age of soundbite rhetoric.
“In Praise of Midwestern Manners.” Joseph Bottum praises good manners as essential to keeping local politics neighborly.
“This Football Season, Let’s Nix the National Anthem.” Bill Kauffman proposes a brilliant solution to the NFL anthem debate.
“Land of Forever Tomorrow.” Alan Jacobs reviews Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), admitting that it is difficult “to find satisfaction in reading about people whose moral decline is accompanied by ever-rising bank balances.”
“How to Fight the Fire.” Dean Kuipers reviews the newest anthology of Wendell Berry’s essays: “Maybe you don’t care much about farming, but these essays, which move from food culture to feminism to literacy to global economics, confront the idea that the rotten ways we treat one another are rooted in the rotten ways we treat the land.”
“Searching for Walker Percy.” Caroline Roberts reports on the recent Walker Percy Festival and its significance to the small town of St. Francisville.
“Building the Benedict Option: Leah Libresco’s Guide to Christian Community.” Evelyn Behling reviews Libresco’s new book, calling it a sort of handbook in “building the community our society sorely needs.”
“The State of Poetry: Loud and Live.” Dana Gioia introduces The Best American Poetry 2018 (which includes a selection by Porcher James Matthew Wilson) by reflecting on the paradoxical situation of poetry today. More and more poets are finding homes outside the university, and these bohemians “have created a vigorous alternative culture that has broken the university’s monopoly on poetry. They have diversified, democratized, and localized American poetry.” (Don’t miss Gioia’s clarifying remarks in the comment section.)
“Donald Hall, 1928–2018.” Speaking of the shifting situation of poetry, Ernest Hilbert reflects on Donald Hall’s life, writing that “in the case of Hall, it may almost be said that he stood in for an enormous span of history and a way of life that has become almost impossible. The literary realm he inhabited, and in which he toiled so hard for so long, no longer really exists.”
“‘A Guiding Light.’ Why Vermont Students are Farming in Wendell Berry’s Backyard.” Do you want to learn how to handle a team of draft horses? How about practicing with one of Wendell Berry’s teams? Linda Blackford explains how some students are doing just this.