Off the Shelf: Wendell Berry’s ‘The Gift of Gravity’

Gift of Gravity coverIn my dabbling with collecting first editions over the years. Wendell Berry’s works have held my attention more than that of any other writer. From a collecting standpoint Berry has a huge, and ever growing, oeuvre. (I’ve told Berry that he writes faster than I can read.) He is a prolific writer of not one or even two genres, but three (fiction, poetry, and essays). And Berry’s works have also appeared in a wide range of limited editions with small presses and print runs (broadsides and chapbooks spanning over five decades). There is always a little treasure out there that you never even knew existed.

Gift of Gravity backRecently I picked up what actually is a relatively available edition, England’s Golgonooza Press collection of Wendell Berry poems, The Gift of Gravity. Published in 2002 in stiff wrappers only (no hardcover edition, so far as I can tell), it offers not simply a British edition of an American book, but an entirely unique collection intended for the British market.

Interestingly, an earlier small press edition using the title The Gift of Gravity was issued as a joint effort by Deerfield Press and Gallery Press in 1979. Limited to only 300 copies, it was signed on the colophon by Wendell Berry, and contained only the poems “The Gift of Gravity” and “Grief.” I purchased my copy some years ago. Prices appear to have increased since then.

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Gift limited sig

And while we’re on the topic of Golgonooza Press, in 1991 they issued a collection of Wendell Berry’s essays, Standing on Earth. Like The Gift of Gravity, it’s an edition unique to the British market. Available in both hardcover and paper wraps, the hardcover is more difficult to find.

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Poking around for obscure, somewhat ignored, editions can be a rewarding way to own a collectible copy from whatever author’s work you may be chasing.

2 thoughts on “Off the Shelf: Wendell Berry’s ‘The Gift of Gravity’

  1. Mr. Cornett, Since you indicate it is relatively easy to acquire England’s Golgonooza Press collection of Wendell Berry poems, The Gift of Gravity, would you mind telling me how to do so. Thank you/Jeff Blake

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