July 18, 2023, Spring Green, WI - An Evening with Michael Perry
It was a perfect day in southwest Wisconsin, warm with a light breeze and lazy feeling. It was a perfect night to spend time with old friends and new friends listening to Michael Perry and sharing farming stories.
Michael Perry’s new novella is a departure from his previous works of fiction. Set in a world of stark wintry beauty, Forty Acres Deep is the brief, unrelenting tale of one person's attempt to make sense of a world he no longer recognizes while pitilessly calling himself into account. Seamed with grim humor and earthy revelations, it is an unforgiving story...and yet leaves open the idea that we might surrender to hope. Michael talked about his inspiration for the novella and his decision to self-publish it.
The evening included a panel of farmers, including Farmer Angel Network's co-founder Dorothy Harms,moderated by Joy Kirkpatrick, responding to the story and sharing their experiences about what it means to farm today.
The event was held at the Octagon Barn in Spring Green and hosted by Morrill Lecture Series. As Perry began telling his own personal story, a heart felt mix of laughter and tears settled across the audience of almost 250 people. He read a bit from several of his books describing scenes well known to us all. For me he recreated my grandparents farm kitchen to a T with crossword puzzle books, mounds for farming magazines and coffee mugs all piled on top of each other on the table with morning's mud still on the floor.
As I gazed across the audience in the barn and looked out the open doorway to the hillside field, cows were lazily going out to graze, their timing seemed perfect for this evening's conversation.
40 Acres Deep is a hard read because it is real. You will feel it in your heart and it will take you to painful places that you may know all too well. It's bitter sweet, but oh so worth it.
The panel did an excellent job answering the questions, they gave insightful reflection to topics that were sometimes painful and were able to speak about the future of farming lives in a very positive and real way. The feeling of community was abundant and conversations were thoughtful and lively.
This was a memory maker and Michael Perry is one good story teller!
Photos and article compliments of Sue Sharp.