CINCINNATI (AP) — U.S. author, essayist and poet Wendell Berry has been named winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s lifetime achievement award for his promotion of the need for people to live at peace with their environment.
The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement award is named for the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Dayton peace accords on Bosnia. It’s meant to recognize literature’s ability to promote peace and understanding.
Previous winners have included Studs Terkel, Elie Wiesel and Taylor Branch.
“My first thought, I suppose, is surprise … the prize puts me in very distinguished company,” Berry, 79, said.
Among Berry’s writings are a collection of essays called “The Unsettling of America.”
President Barack Obama presented Berry in 2011 with the National Humanities Medal for achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer and conservationist.
“In a career spanning more than half a century, Wendell Berry has used poetry, fiction and essays to offer a consistent, timely and timeless reminder that we must live in harmony with the Earth in order to live in harmony with each other,” Sharon Rab, founder and co-chairwoman of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, said in an announcement provided to The Associated Press.
Berry said American society is generally violent, a tendency that shows up in the way forests, mountains and farmland are exploited for economic development.
He said his aim hasn’t been to be political in his writings, but to focus on land use and the problems he sees.
The award carries a $10,000 stipend.