Books Acquired Recently: Mennonite/s Writing Edition

This past weekend the Mennonite/s Writing VII conference was held at Fresno Pacific University. It was an excellent time, and as usual the conference had a wide variety of books by authors in attendance available. Despite the fact that I buy most pieces of Mennonite literature as soon as I find out about them, I still managed to come away with four books from the conference, and could have bought more. It’s important to note that three of the four books I acquired are poetry. I haven’t been reading much poetry and I think that subconsciously I was craving it.

Dueck, Nathan. he’ll. St. John’s: Pedlar, 2014.

Dueck and I got to know each other at the conference and we have a lot of both literary and non-literary interests in common. It’s always enjoyable to buy a book written by someone who you like as a person.

Everwine, Peter. From the Meadow: Selected and New Poems. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2004.

Everwine was one of the featured local writers at the conference (he is not Mennonite, but there is a tradition of having non-Mennonite keynote speakers at these conferences), and gave a fantastic reading on Thursday night. I had never encountered his work before, but his work had the audience spellbound and there was no question about whether I should buy one of his books afterward.

Klassen, Sarah. Monstrance. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 2012.

I actually wanted to buy a book of Klassen’s fiction, but she was sold out. However, upon seeing my disappointment she gave me this collection of poetry as a gift! What a sweet, gracious gesture. I will make sure to order some of her fiction to repay the favor.

Swartley, André. Americanus Rex. Bluffton: Workplay, 2009.

Swartley and I were in college together (he was in the first writing workshop I ever took), and it was good to reconnect at the conference. He had several novels available, and I chose this one based on its blurb. I am about two-thirds of the way through it and am enjoying it thus far.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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