Off the Shelf: Wendell Berry’s ‘St. Vith, December 21, 1944′

Part of Wendell Berry’s long running Sabbath series of poems, “St. Vith, December 21, 1944″ captures a moving moment during the brutality of the Battle of the Bulge. American forces withdrew from St. Vith on that date, leaving the Belgian city to the Germans. General Bruce Clarke ordered the Americans out having said, “This terrain is not worth a nickel an acre to me.”

This limited edition signed broadside was handset and printed by the great Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press in Kentucky, under whom I apprenticed sixteen years ago. It was commissioned by Michael Courtney, proprietor of the best bookstore in Kentucky, Black Swan Books (where I also worked years ago). Michael commissioned annual broadsides for several years from Gray. For me, the confluence of Larkspur Press, Black Swan Books and Wendell Berry brings about a perfect match.

It was one of the first Wendell Berry broadsides I ever purchased, possibly the first. It was framed in Columbia, South Carolina while I was a graduate student. Special instructions were given to display the lovely deckled edges.

I suppose this entry isn’t really “Off the Shelf,” but “Off the Wall” didn’t have quite the same connotation.

A Merry Christmas from Pinstripe Pulpit.

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