The audience for Wendell Berry's appearance in Floyd: Some felt they should have heard more from him and less from others.
The audience for Wendell Berry’s appearance in Floyd: Some felt they should have heard more from him and less from others.

Lots of aftermath, second guessing and some recriminations from author-activist Wendell Berry‘s visit to Floyd last week.

Some are asking for refunds on the tickets they purchased to attend the appearance of Berry last Friday night, saying they were misled into thinking they were attending an evening listening to him and not a panel discussion dominated by others.

Berry reportedly was not happy with some of the program’s limitations.  At one point he asked the moderator to tell one of his fellow panelists to “share the microphone.”

Some left the event early and voiced their anger in emails and posts to Facebook.  Fragments from Floyd blogger Fred First was not openly critical of the way the evening went but noted “the disappointment hearing so little from Wendell Berry.”

Floyd’s Eco-Center hosted Berry for an autograph session earlier in the day and it drew long lines from those who wanted to meet the author.  But the evening event left some dissatisfied.  Some complain loudly in private conversations but clam up when asked to comment publicly.

The problem stems from what happens when private agendas and egos get in the way of a good intention.  As a farmer, author and activist, Berry is a popular figure in the area.  When he comes to town and admission is charged, people expect to see and hear him as the primary focus of an event.

Advance publicity for the event portrayed the evening as a talk by Berry.  On his last visit to Floyd, he read from his books and had a lot to say.  This time, he seemed somewhat perplexed by the format.

At the end of the evening, Berry noted that the night was not what he expected but he tried to end the evening on a positive note and talked about the importance of being a team and not trying to stand out individually.  It was a message that is also a lesson.  Only time will tell if it was a lesson learned.

Both Sustain Floyd and the Eco-Center say they will refund the ticket price for any attendee who let the event disappointed.

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Wendell Berry autographing a book for Jeri Rogers at the Eco-Center earlier in the day.
Wendell Berry autographing a book for Jeri Rogers at the Eco-Center earlier in the day.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I think this post misrepresents Berry’s feelings about the panel. Berry did “ask the moderator to tell one of his fellow panelists to ‘share the microphone,'” but he did so with humor in mind, and the audience’s laughter makes clear that almost everyone was in on the joke.

    Further, his comment was meant to give more time to the other panelists. It was obvious that he was not asking for more microphone time for himself: at different moments he emphasized the importance of “conversation” and also shared his anxiety about being regarded as an “oracle.”

    Finally, those dissatisfied with the volume of Berry’s words should recall that he was free to speak at length at the beginning of the program. He decided to deliver a short opening statement so that more time could be spent on questions from the audience.

    While I’m saddened to hear that not everyone left the FCHS auditorium satisfied, I think I understand why some were displeased. Certainly ALL those present would have liked to have heard more from Berry. Who, after all, could hear TOO MUCH from him?

  2. If the article here misrepresented anything it was the level of disappointment at an event that was no where near what it claimed to be. It was an evening dominated by one person, a local logger known for his massive ego and desire to dominate any and every thing he is involved and a use of Wendell Berry’s name and reputation to turn the evening into a promotion of a one-man foundation that promotes the use of horses in logging. I wanted my money back for two reasons: First, I did not come to hear an evening of self-promotion by someone who was not the guest speaker for the evening and, two, I do not want my money to go to promoting one individual and a self-serving foundation. My husband and I drove a long distance to see Mr. Berry and the evening turned out to be a waste of time for us and others. It is too bad and it leaves a bad impression of Floyd for us. Our friends in Floyd tell us that this is not the fist time the individual involved has let his ego and penchant for shameless self-promotion get in the way.

  3. I was one of those who left early. It was really a shame that one person hogged the microphone and spent most of the discussion bragging about his horse logging operation. I can understand pride but taking time away from the star of the evening was uncalled for and insulting to Mr. Berry. I am not asking for my money back but I was disappointed.

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