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New Voices: In This Issue




In this issue six writers of poetry and memoir take on the theme of Mennonite memory as they reinterpret, express, and critique Mennonite values and stories through their creative work.


All six writers are new to the Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing and to the community of Mennonite/s Writing. These writers include both published and previously unpublished writers from several generations.

Every generation must reinvent its faith and culture in language, grafting experience onto received stories and values in new contexts. The works in this issue reflect this imaginative process. We hope you enjoy hearing these new voices and the ways in which voices from multiple generations resonate with each other.

Diana Zimmerman’s forthcoming memoir, When the Roll is Called a Pyonder, will be published by eLectio books in August, 2014. We are delighted to publish an excerpt from it here. Written in the voice of a child under ten, it captures moments in a conservative Mennonite childhood lived out in a farm setting in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Kate Yoder’s graphic memoir, “Me & the Martyrs,” was written for the Graphic Novel class at Goshen College taught by Jessica Baldanzi, after Yoder worked on history professor John D. Roth’s project of collecting Martyr stories for the 21st century.

Three poems by Joseph Gascho are part of a series that explores his memory of growing up on a farm in Nebraska and the contradictions he observed in the living out of Mennonite faith. Two poems by Anna Ruth reflect on her travels to Korea and advice from her mother, bringing a sensibility shaped by a sense of home into a global setting and extending compassion to the Korean comfort women who were deprived of a traditional home life. Three poems by Heather Derr-Smith meditate on the beauty and terror of the created world, as it is interrupted by violence. A final poem by Kate Friesen offers a collage of vulnerability, joy, loss and longing.

This New Voices issue is dedicated to my students, past and present, who represent the "new voices" of the next generation, whether or not their work is included here. A special thanks goes to Kate Yoder and Kate Friesen, both of whom helped with the editing of this issue. Kate Yoder has been the Center for Mennonite Writing's student intern since the fall of 2012 and also served as an intern at The Mennonite this spring. We traveled to the Cincinnati Mennonite Arts Weekend in search of future contributors to the Journal of CMW and Kate wrote an article on the Arts Weekend for The Mennonite. Kate Friesen is an alumna of the Mennonite Literature class at Goshen College taught in Spring 2011, who served as a student assistant for the Mennonite Literature class taught in Fall 2013 at Goshen College. Check out the work of the fall 2013 Mennonite Literature Students in the New Resources section of this issue.

About the Author

Ann Hostetler

Ann Hostetler is the editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry (Univ. of Iowa Press 2003) and author of a collection of poems, Empty Room with Light (Dreamseeker Books 2002). Her poems and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including The American Scholar, Nimrod, Poet Lore, The Valparaiso Poetry Review, Literary Mama, Rhubarb Magazine, Testimonies and Tongue Screws: Poems, Stoires, and Essays Inspired by the Martyr's Mirror, and Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets (2010). A professor of English at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, she is the web site editor of the Center for Mennonite Writing and co-editor of its Journal.