Books Acquired Recently: Inscribed Copies Edition

Coffman, Lisa. Less Obvious Gods. Oak Ridge, TN: Iris Press, 2013.

I recently read Coffman’s first poetry collection, Likely, and loved it, so I decided to order her second book. I bought an inscribed copy directly from her website.

Kraybill, Donald B. Eastern Mennonite University: A Century of Countercultural Education. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017.

I am enough of a Mennonite history buff and my mother’s family has enough connections to Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) that I decided to buy this book after it got a good review in the July 2019 Mennonite Quarterly Review even though I am an alumnus of EMU’s rival, Goshen College. I thought about buying it directly from Penn State Press because they are also my publisher but it is $40.00 new, so I found a used copy for $22.00 on abebooks.com. It was inscribed by Kraybill to a Mark Lehman (who is probably a distant cousin of mine because my grandmother was a Lehman, haha) on 14 October 2017. I always wonder about the ownership histories of used books that I buy, and I am especially intrigued by this one. Why did Lehman get rid of the book so quickly (after less than two years!)? Did he die? Did he decide to become a missionary and thus needed to get rid of most of his possessions? Did he just think the book was terrible (for the record, I am already about a third of the way through it and am enjoying it thus far)? I will probably never know the answer, but the mystery makes me like the book more as an object.

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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