Tag Archives: Mennonot

Books Acquired Recently: Massachusetts Writers Edition

Espada, Martín. The Trouble Ball. 2011. New York: Norton, 2012.

Espada gave a reading at my college this past Thursday, and I also had the privilege of having him speak in one of my classes. He is everything a writer should be: passionate, activist, happy to talk about his work, non-elitist. His poems are fun to read because they are vivid and engaging. The reading was one of the best I’ve ever been to, so buying his latest collection was an obvious decision.

One thing that I did not know about Espada is that he is a huge baseball fan. The Trouble Ball‘s title poem is about his father’s first visit to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and he is also working on a collection of essays about baseball and Latinos for Bloomsbury Press. I asked him who he roots for, and he said that he grew up a Mets fan, but switched to the Red Sox in 1986 because he was living in Massachusetts. Bill Simmons explains here why sports bigamy is wrong; Espada was immediately punished for his when the Mets defeated the Red Sox that year in one of the greatest World Series ever. But he and I both hate the Yankees, so he’s alright in my book. He also mentioned enjoying minor league baseball, and was happy to hear that Salt Lake City has a AAA team. Espada said his favorite baseball moment was game seven of the 2004 American League Championship Series when the Red Sox defeated the Yankees (he also made mention of the ninth inning of game four when Boston’s comeback began), and his second favorite moment was when Puerto Rico beat the USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Stoner, Kay. Strange Bedfellows: A Cautionary Tale for Times of Global Change. Bolton: Kay Stoner, 2010.

I first encountered Stoner’s work in Mennonot (she has a poem on page 16 of issue 2 and an article beginning on page 10 of issue 3, both of which may be accessed here), and found her to be an exciting pro-LGBT voice. I wanted to read more of her work, and uncovered the self-published novel Strange Bedfellows after doing some googling. It looks fascinating: Stoner claims that she dreamt it (shades of Coleridge!), and it includes images of some of her artwork to supplement the narrative.

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Ode to Mennonot

Mennonot, a zine “For Mennos [i.e., Mennonites] on the Margins,” published thirteen issues between 1993 and 2003 (though issue 12 appeared in 1999 and issue 13 did not appear until four years later). Happily, the full set has just been put online for free here. Mennonot included commentary on the state of institutional Mennonitism, interviews, reader rants, humor, and poetry by important Mennonite writers such as Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Jeff Gundy, and Patrick Friesen. It provided an important safe space for people who were raised Mennonite, but had questions about the tradition to air their “heretical” thoughts and encounter ideas from others going through a similar struggle. Retrospectively, I think that its most important contribution was its early (by Mennonite standards), unwavering advocacy for LGBT rights both in the Church and in broader society. There are numerous articles and letters from LGBT persons throughout Mennonot‘s run, beginning with the first issue.

I first encountered Mennonot towards the end of college, reading the last three issues, but I haven’t thought about it much since then. It feels good to get reacquainted! I’ve been reading through it for the past week or so, which has been enjoyable. It is fascinating to see what issues were important to “Mennonots” (a label which currently describes me) twenty years ago. Sadly, the institutional Mennonite Church is still nearly as oppressive of women and LGBT persons now as it was then.

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