The fact that I love the Wendell Berry poem makes this unimaginative video all the more painful to watch. It adds nothing to my understanding of the poem, and instead works to reduce it to a few, too-pretty images. And since it will be seen by tens of thousands on PBS, it sets a very bad example. YouTube is already infested with home-made versions of this poetry video, I guess because too many poetry fans would rather put poems on a pedestal and worship them as idols than take the risk of engaging them in dialogue. Add in the redundant images of the poem’s text while the poet reads it to us, and the over-all effect is of a poetry video that talks down to its audience. In a misguided effort to make poetry accessible, it has pretty much destroyed the poem.
(Please note, however, that the Bill Moyers interview, taped to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the publication of Berry’s landmark collection of essays The Unsettling of America, and due to be broadcast beginning October 4, sounds very worthwhile indeed. All the more irritating, then, that they would promote it with such a lousy poetry video.)