About the Show | Credits

About Living by Words

Living by Words, a 90-minute KET television documentary, is the story of five good friends who also happen to be five of Kentucky’s best-loved authors: Bobbie Ann Mason, Wendell Berry, Gurney Norman, Ed McClanahan, and James Baker Hall. It is also a celebration of creative writing, and in particular of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky, which all five writers attended in the 1950s and ’60s.

Since their time at UK, the featured authors have lived in various parts of the country—at times as neighbors, always as colleagues and friends. All of them now live in the state again. And in the fall of 2001, they gathered at UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts for a gala joint reading in honor of the school and of Kentucky’s deep and rich literary tradition. That reading forms the core of Living by Words. In documentary segments interspersed throughout the program, the authors also reminisce about their experiences and teachers at UK and about their careers.

Both the program and the web site are illustrated with photographs by Hall that chronicle the lives of the authors. These photos are part of his recently published book A Spring-Fed Pond.

Living by Words is a 2002 production of KET, Kentucky’s statewide public television network. Guy Mendes was producer/director; Nancy Carpenter was executive producer (see complete production credits). It is available on videotape from KET; call (800) 945-9167 or e-mail tapes@ket.org for information.

Kentucky Humanities Council

This program was funded in part by a grant from the Kentucky Humanities Council.


The authors read from the following works in the program:

  • Wendell Berry: Jayber Crow
  • James Baker Hall: Stopping at the Edge To Wave
  • Bobbie Ann Mason: Clear Springs
  • Ed McClanahan: The Return of the Son of Needmore
  • Gurney Norman: Crazy Quilt