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Wendell Berry, Donald Hall Honored by President Obama   printer  

2003
Robert Shetterley

Aiken Taylor Award-winning poets Wendell Berry and Donald Hall have both been honored by President Barack Obama for their contributions to American letters.

Obama presented the National Medal of Arts to Donald Hall on Wednesday, March 2nd.  The president remarked that Hall’s work has “inspired Americans and enhanced the role of poetry in our national life.”  A few moments later he presented the National Humanities Medal to Wendell Berry, citing Berry’s “achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer, and conservationist . . . exploring our relationship with the land and community."

Berry later remarked, “To have my work honored is a satisfaction . . . because my work has been to so large an extent an effort to promote good care of the land.  And, of course, I’m still actively in efforts to do that.  I’m glad for whatever notice that effort can receive.”

Other recipients of the National Medal of Arts included Richard Brustein, Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones, and Harper Lee.  Berry was also among distinguished company in receiving the Humanities Medal; fellow recipients included SR contributor and esteemed novelist, Joyce Carol Oates; Daniel Aaron, the founding president of the Library of America; biographer and literary critic Arnold Rampersad, recognized for his authoritative studies of Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and W. E. B. DuBois; and Philip Roth.  Click
here for a complete list of award recipients.

Watch Hall and Berry receive their awards at the White House!