Category Archives: Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Eisner, Mark, and Tina Escaja, eds. Resistencia: Poems of Protest and Revolution. Portland, OR: Tin House, 2020.

I heard about this anthology on Twitter and bought it right away because “poems of protest and revolution” are necessary now more than ever.

Wright, David. Local Talent. Chicago: Purple Flag Press, 2019.

Wright is a Mennonite poet (not the Mets’ former third baseman) whose work I enjoy. I recently heard about his most recent collection and was able to purchase a signed copy from him.

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Books Acquired Recently: Mennonite Edition

Neufeldt, Leonard. Yarrow: Poems. Windsor, ON: Black Moss Press, 1993.

I bought this book because I’ve been doing some writing about Mennonite poet Di Brandt, and the collection has a poem dedicated to her (“The Tree with a Hole in Our Front Yard”) that I wanted to reference. I read this poem twenty years ago in a Mennonite Literature course in college and it has stuck with me.

Stambaugh, Sara. Yon Far Country: A Social and Personal Memoir of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Kitchener, ON: Pandora Press, 2009.

I’m also doing some writing about Stambaugh’s novel I Hear the Reaper’s Song, which takes place in her hometown (and my ancestral hometown) of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I decided to order her memoir about the County to see if it is helpful for my writing.

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Books Acquired Recently

Friesen, Patrick. Outlasting the Weather: Selected and New Poems 1994-2020. Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2020.

As I just wrote here, Patrick Friesen is one of the most important Mennonite writers ever. It is therefore very exciting that his second volume of Selected Poems is now out.

Lisicky, Paul. Later: My Life at the Edge of the World. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2020.

Lisicky came and read at Utica College a few years ago. He’s a nice guy, so I’ve read some of his work since then, and appreciate its unabashed queerness. Memoir Twitter is all abuzz about his new memoir, and it sounds fascinating, so I decided to buy it.

Miller, E. Ethelbert. If God Invented Baseball: Poems. Westport, CT: City Point Press, 2018.

Miller has an article in the latest issue of The Writer’s Chronicle. After reading it, I decided to look up his work. I was excited to discover that he has a poetry collection about baseball, and decided that it sounded like a good book to acquire as an introduction to his work.

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Books Acquired Recently: Marje A. Dyck Edition

Dyck, Marje A. A Piece of the Moon. Saskatoon: Calisto Press, 2005.

—. Still Blue Water: Collected Tanka. Saskatoon: Calisto Press, 2012.

Recently, while reading Terry Ann Carter’s Haiku in Canada, I came across some poems by Marje A. Dyck. My immediate thought was “Dyck is a Mennonite name! I wonder if she’s Mennonite?” I was able to get in touch with her, and as it turns out she is not Mennonite (her husband has Mennonite ancestry). However, I enjoyed the bit of her work that I encountered, and look forward to reading these two books of hers.

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Books Acquired Recently: Free Books Edition

Cates, James A. Serpent in the Garden: Amish Sexuality in a Changing World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020.

I wrote a blurb for this book, and recently received my blurber’s copy in the mail.

Maldonado, Ricardo Alberto. The Life Assignment. Tribeca, NY: Four Way Books, 2020.

I have not encountered Maldonado’s work before, but just received this collection of poetry from a friend. I look forward to checking it out!

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Books Acquired Recently: Poetry Edition

Kauffman, Janet. Eco-dementia. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2017.

Kauffman was one of the first major Mennonite writers in the U.S., and I have deeply appreciated her work since first encountering it in college. I was unaware of this collection of hers until a colleague mentioned it recently.

Swede, George, and Terry Ann Carter, eds. Erotic Haiku: Of Skin on Skin. Windsor, ON: Black Moss Press, 2017.

I recently read Carter’s Haiku in Canada, which is quite good. She mentions this co-edited anthology in it, and I decided to order it because I write erotic haiku myself.

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Books Acquired Recently: PM Press Edition

I got my monthly shipment of PM Press books in the mail today. What is included is always a surprise. This month’s batch looks especially exciting.

Federici, Silvia. Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle. Rev. ed. Oakland: PM Press, 2020.

Glick, Ted. Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War. Oakland: PM Press, 2020.

Pilgrim, David, and Franklin Hughes. Haste to Rise: A Remarkable Experience of Black Education During Jim Crow. Oakland: PM Press, 2020.

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Books Acquired Recently

Ashbery, John. A Wave: Poems. New York: Viking Press, 1984.

I have been reading lots of haiku lately, and I also love the New York School of poets, so when I heard about this collection in which Ashbery includes haiku and haibun (a related form that combines prose with haiku), I decided to order it.

Carl-Klassen, Abigail. Ain’t Country Like You. Maywood, NJ: Digging Press, 2020.

Carl-Klassen is an important member of the younger generation of Mennonite poets and also a friend. I am super-excited to have received a copy of her new collection in the mail today! The book’s cover is beautiful.

Crispin, Jessa. The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life. New York: Touchstone, 2016.

As I’ve been reading about the tarot over the past year I’ve become more and more interested in its connections to storytelling and literature. I recently came across a review of Crispin’s book, which discusses using tarot to help inspire one’s creative process and thus relates to these connections. Therefore, I decided to check it out for myself.

Kasdorf, Julia Spicher, Christopher Reed, and Joyce Henri Robinson, eds. Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer. University Park, PA: Palmer Museum of Art, 2020.

This is the exhibition book for a retrospective exhibition of Warren Rohrer’s paintings and Jane Rohrer’s poetry that was supposed to happen this past spring, but has been rescheduled for 2021. Happily, though, the book itself is now available. It’s a beautiful volume with lots of painting reproductions as well as a selection of Rohrer’s poems. The list of essayists also looks enticing.

Ross, Bruce, Kōko Katō, Dietmar Tauchner, and Patricia Prime, eds. A Vast Sky: An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku. Bangor, ME: Tancho Press, 2015.

I recently came across a citation of this anthology in another haiku anthology. Its global scope sounds fascinating, so I decided to buy it.

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Books Acquired Recently

Cicero, Chic, and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot: Keys to the Rituals, Symbolism, Magic and Divination. 2nd ed. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2019.

I recently read Rachel Pollack’s book Tarot Wisdom, which included reproductions of the Golden Dawn deck that comes with Cicero and Cicero’s book. I loved the deck’s imagery and wanted a copy for myself.

Clark, Marcia Kauffman. The Carol of Christmas: Life Story of Christmas Carol Kauffman. Honeoye Falls, NY: Digital Legend Press, 2008.

Christmas Carol Kauffman was a prolific Mennonite writer in the mid-twentieth century. I’ve heard my mother and her siblings talk about reading her work when they were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. Kauffman is an underexplored figure in the field of Mennonite literature, presumably because her work is didactic, so I don’t know much about her. I’m excited to read this biography by her daughter to learn more.

Rivera, Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. New York: Dial Books, 2019.

I love this novel. It’s about a queer Puerto Rican from the Bronx like me, but it’s also a wonderful story about the power of books to change people’s lives. It was first published in 2016 in paperback by Riverdale Avenue Books and then went out of print, and I am glad that a large publisher has given it a home in hardcover. The original publication is not mentioned anywhere in this volume’s paratext, so I do not know if it is a revised version or if it is simply reprinted. The book itself is beautiful, with endpapers dedicated to the Bronx and to Portland, Oregon, the book’s two locales, so kudos to Dial’s designers.

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Sabbatical Productivity: July

Yesterday was officially the last day of my sabbatical, although classes do not begin until 24 August. I kept a list in my journal of the academic activities I engaged in during my seven-month break. This practice was partly for myself, so that I could make sure I was using the time productively, and partly for my institution, which requires me to write a report about the sabbatical once it finishes. Here is a list of what I accomplished in July, generally in chronological order. The list is shorter than in any previous month because I spent almost all of my working time on a new writing project, so I worked on a smaller variety of things. I feel that I accomplished a decent amount, though.

1. Updated the Mennonite/s Writing Bibliographies and blog throughout the month.

2. Sent the call for papers for an anthology of writing about Dungeons & Dragons that I am co-editing to potential contributors.

3. Had a Zoom meeting with a colleague at another institution about a bibliographing project.

4. Submitted senryu to several journals. I haven’t heard back from some of them yet because the reading period is still open, but Failed Haiku took three poems for their August issue, which is here (my poems are on page 129).

5. Finished the introduction of my new book project, which is about the importance of literature in these terrible times. I’ve been feeling hopeless a lot this month because of the political situation and the way many people in the U.S. are not taking the pandemic seriously. I can either write with the hope that things will get better and that my writing might help this healing in some small way, or I can give up and be part of the problem. So I choose to write.

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