Society & Culture
EPISODE 8: Part 1 -- Vietnam vet discusses influence of literary icon, Wendell Berry
In part 1 of this 2-part series, podcaster Tracy Crow, an author, writing coach, and Marine Corps veteran talks with special guest, Michael Lancaster, a West Point grad and Vietnam veteran/combat helicopter pilot, about how he uses metaphor as a model for his life, and about the influence of literary icon and environmentalist, Wendell Berry. "Why poetry?" Tracy asks. Mike confesses he asked Wendell Berry the same question while attending grad school at the University of Kentucky. Berry was on the faculty, and Mike says he and Berry -- the warrior and the writer -- approached each other at first with a degree of skepticism. Finally, Mike said to Berry, "Wendell, I get novels, your short stories and your essays, and I read poetry, but poetry? Why poetry? I just don't get it." Berry, in true Socratic method, replied, "One day you'll know." And Berry was right. Fast-forward years later...a weary traveling Mike happened upon an airport bookstore one evening and bought a copy of Berry's collection of poems, Sabbaths. Despite his exhaustion, Mike says he read that collection cover to cover, several times, and the experience was life-changing. He sent word to Berry, "I got it!" And Mike has been writing and publishing poetry ever since. Now retired and living among the salt ponds of tidal Virginia, Mike says the salt ponds have become the metaphor of his life, much the same way as the return to the family farm did for mentor, Wendell Berry.
Return Thursday, Feb. 14, to hear Mike read his poems and share how the salt ponds, faith, and poetry have sustained him these past eight months since the passing of his wife, Ellen.
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