30+ Years of Mennonite/s Writing

Vol. 15, No. 1

A selection of recent work celebrating the Mennonite/s Writing 2022 conference. Included are links to plenary talks.

In this issue:

  • 0 read more Introduction to Mennonites Writing 2022 issue

    Introduction to Mennonites Writing 2022 issue

    by Jeff Gundy

    30+ years of Mennonite/s Writing: Looking back, looking forward.

  • 0 read more Excommunication Sequence

    Excommunication Sequence

    by Abigail Carl-Klassen

    Poems by Abigail Carl-Klassen

  • 0 read more from East of Liberal

    from East of Liberal

    by Raylene Hinz-Penner

    I have read that the Apaches believe land makes people live right. Can that be true? The Apaches also honor place as the origin of story. I know that to be true. It is said they begin and end every story, “It happened at. . . .”

    For us, it happened three miles east of Liberal in the corner of Seward County, Kansas bordering Beaver County, the Oklahoma Panhandle once known as “No Man’s Land.” My parents, a young and eager post-World War II couple, were looking for a place to farm and considered themselves unaccountably lucky in 1950 to have found a half-section of sand left mostly untended since its topsoil had blown away during the 1930s catastrophe known as The Dust Bowl. 

    The children of generations of Mennonite farmers, my parents set about bringing the land back into productivity. Realizing almost immediately that the dry land would not sustain them, they accumulated a herd of Holstein milk cows and managed the dairy together for a quarter century. Purportedly, Menno Simons, the founder of our faith, was the child of a dairy farmer. So was Georgia O’Keeffe. So am I.

  • 0 read more Hildi Froese Tiessen

    Hildi Froese Tiessen

    by Robert Zacharias

    Presented at Mennonite/s Writing IX, October 2022

  • 0 read more Merle and Phyllis Good

    Merle and Phyllis Good

    by Ervin Beck

    Presented at the Mennonite/s Writing IX, October 2022 Conference

  • 0 read more On Creating Poland Parables

    On Creating Poland Parables

    by Connie T. Braun

    On Creating Poland Parables

  • 0 read more Raylene Hinz-Penner

    Raylene Hinz-Penner

    by Jennifer Sears

    Presented at the Mennonite/s Writing: IX, October 2022 Conference

  • 0 read more Victor Enns

    Victor Enns

    by Hildi Froese Tiessen

    Presented at the Mennonite/s Writing: IX, October 2022 Conference

  • 0 read more Woman Built of Stones

    Woman Built of Stones

    by Kirsten Beachy

    A meditation

  • 0 read more

    Plenary Conference Events

    by Multiple Authors

    See below for embedded YouTube videos of conference plenaries.

  • 0 read more

    Review of Anabaptist Remix

    by Daniel Born

    Anabaptist ReMix: Varieties of Cultural Engagement in North America, ed. Lauren Friesen and

    Lauren Friesen and Dennis R. Koehn, editors. 477 pp. Peter Lang, 2022. $109.95 cloth.


  • 0 read more Magdalene Redekop

    Magdalene Redekop

    by Ann Hostetler

    Presented at the Mennonite/s Writing: IX, October 2022 Conference

  • 0 read more Two Poems from Fences

    Two Poems from Fences

    by Cheryl Denise

    Where I’m From


    I’m from clotheslines off back porches,

    from pickle brine and cook cheese

    from a mother who made us kids sniff horseradish

    at the first sign of a cold.


    I’m from shape notes, knitting needles and pickling corn,

    ink stains and silver typeset

    Dad’s Heidelberg press forever snorting

    like a stallion in the old chicken coop.


    From neighbor kids flooding the backyard for hockey

    imagining ourselves as Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr.


    From a giant white Bible on a coffee table

    with a picture of Solomon about to split a baby in two.


    I’m from home-sewn bathing suits, accordion lessons,

    breaking curfew and smoking Players,

    Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and Farrah Fawcett hair.


    From a mother who had two dates in one night,

    a father who snuck out of the parsonage

    to see South Pacific at that verboten

    movie house.


    From a grandfather who refused to go to war,

    sent west to fight forest fires instead

    while his wife gave birth on a poultry farm.


    I’m from recycled ancestors—

    the ones I can’t name

    and don’t understand, but who somehow

    survive in my bones, grounding me here,

    to this place where I’m from.



    Brother Lawrence and the Sheep


    Eight a.m. I stumble to the barn

    in my old high school stoner jacket

    with the missing black buttons.

    The weeds no one ever seems to pull

    or hoe or mind sway in the grass,

    wild as my boss in a temper tantrum.


    In the warming sunlight, fat borer bees

    begin to chew holes in the rafters,

    like the board members who took away

    Good Friday as a holiday. I swat

    them with that tennis racquet

    that lies on the hay bale, feel the satisfying thud,

    watch the stunned bodies in the dirt winding down.


    I sweep manure from mangers,

    clatter the feed can and the flock flows into the barn.

    They rise, plant their front feet in the troughs,

    throw their heads heavenward,

    a bleating hungry choir.

    I tap my metal scoop, raise it like a baton

    and sing my old Sunday School song about patience.

    As choir director, I should commit to the words.


    It’s been years since I sat inside the barn

    waiting for a lamb to sniff my legs,

    cock his head, one ear drooping with the weight

    of a yellow ear tag —

    waiting for the ewes to take me in,

    to plop down almost near and chew their cuds.


    It’s just chores now.

    I imagine Brother Lawrence hanging his head

    as he creaks through the weathered walls,

    Practice the presence of God, he chants,

    If I could doing dishes, you can tending sheep.


    But I’m no monk, I retort.

    Unlike you I have a real job, and my boss,

    he doesn’t give a shit about poetry,

    or barns, let alone my soul, and I’m late.

    I hurry back to the house, Larry one step

    behind, reciting a homily on holy habits.

    I plug my ears, change jeans, gulp coffee.


    Larry shakes his head as I zoom down the lane,

    God is everywhere, he heralds over the fence,

    It’d make the day easier if you’d start

    by saying hello.



    Where I’m From, and Brother Lawrence and the Sheep, are from Cheryl Denise’s new poetry collection, Fences, 2022, Cascadia Publishing House, DreamSeeker poetry series, Telford, PA.




  • 0 read more Review of MennoFolk3:

    Review of MennoFolk3:

    by Levi Miller

    Review of Ervin Beck's third "MennoFolk" book,  MennoFolk3: Punns, Riddles, Tales, Legends