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Agrarian Poetry: Why We Need Its Messages and Beauty Now, More Than Ever Before

Quite literally, from Biblical times to the 1950s, agrarian poetry, story and song helped to shape the underlying values of any culture, society or community which had strong ties to the land.

Now, with less that 1.5% of Americans self-identifying as farmers or ranchers, not only has the value of their poetic expressions been marginalized, but their overall contributions to American culture have also been marginalized as “nostalgic, romantic or retro.” Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, as we enter an era of agricultural uncertainty and aggravated food insecurity, the values, struggles and visions of food-producing peoples have never been more necessary for the American public to hear.

I will draw upon Biblical, historical and contemporary voices to argue that food producers and prophets come from the same cloth; that spoken as well as written agrarian poetry is one of our most important moral compasses; and that the beauty of their imagery cannot and should not be painted over by cutesy graphics and soundbytes.

It is time that we return to listening to the land and those tenacious enough to apprentice with it: ranchers, farmers, foragers, hunters and orchardkeepers.


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