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  • 0 read more The Farm Wife

    The Farm Wife

    by Shari Miller Wagner

    The Farm Wife Sings
    to the Snake in Her Garden

    Bringing in the Sheaves”
    is so you know I am coming
    to pluck green beans in the dark

    where you dangle. O garter snake
    you are the refrain that returns
    with every verse I sing. I spy you

    in the watermelon’s ropey
    vine or the smooth handle of a hoe
    half-hidden in marigolds.

    “Be Thou My Vision,” I hum,
    cutting a cabbage head
    and you jolt like an arrow

    from the crooked shadow
    of my arm. Against the picket fence,
    your discarded skin hangs

    thin as silver tissue ...

  • 0 read more Don’t Do It! Advice on How to Sort of Make It in Hollywood

    Don’t Do It! Advice on How to Sort of Make It in Hollywood

    by Collin Friesen

    It’s overcast today, which is the closest thing to “weather” we’re going to see for a few months. I’m sitting in my soon-to-be repossessed living room, looking up rumspringa on the internet, prepping for an interview I’m doing next week with Spike TV for a show called “1001 Ways to Die.” The show recently posted a message on Craigslist looking for a “Mennonite,” assuming, quite rightly, that a posting looking for “Amish” would be self-defeating. As a former reporter, I know it’s lazy to assume the two groups are interchangeable, but they’re paying, so who am I to ...

  • 0 read more "Every play should pose a good question": An Interview with Vern Thiessen

    "Every play should pose a good question": An Interview with Vern Thiessen

    by Hildi Froese Tiessen

    Vern Thiessen in 2003 won the Governor General’s Award for Drama for his play Einstein’s Gift. The author of more than 25 plays, he is one of the most widely produced playwrights in Canada. In 2010 his play Lenin’s Embalmers was well received in New York City when it was produced by the Ensemble Studio Theater. Its first Canadian production opened October 29 in Toronto. It will be translated and produced in Warsaw and Tel Aviv. The script will be published in 2011 by Playwrights Canada Press, which has also published Thiessen’s Blowfish (1998), Apple (2002), Einstein’s Gift (2003), and ...

  • 1 read more Five Poems

    Five Poems

    by Charity Gingerich

    “Currently life is rich and terrifying, and I am finding that writing poetry is a most useful expression of my faith, which right now includes exercising my doubts. Doubt, after all, is a necessary component of faith. How else do we become sure of truth?” – Charity Gingerich

    Charity Gingerich’s poems exploded upon us like a mature shrub of lilacs in full flower. The Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing is pleased to present a selection of these poems for the first time in this issue. Of the first three poems included here, Gingerich writes: “ ‘Some Days Walking Alone,’ ‘Deserving’ and ‘To Sugar Grove Road’ came at the end of an intense, almost visceral cycle of Lenten prayer poems I wrote this spring. I had not realized until now how ‘useful’ writing poetry could be beyond merely intellectual and artistic stimulation. It became an act of the body that nourished the spirit.”

    With their long, lush lines, Gingerich’s poems reveal a passion for language and life that is distinctive and compelling, and a sensibility that is steeped in the Mennonite tradition of service to others and a reverence for the natural world.

    Austin Hummel, editor of Passages North, has said of Gingerich’s poems, “[they are] ambitious, backward-glancing poems. They speak with an exile’s voice, though with a heart trained not on the self, but on others.” Humble but eager to share her poetic discoveries, Gingerich said of Hummel’s response to her work: “At first I felt strangely ‘exposed,’ as if someone—and a stranger no less—had uncovered a secret of mine. But my consternation mellowed when I realized that this really is a confirmation of what I hope to do/be as a poet, as a person. I want my work to transcend, not just in that otherworldliness that is poetry (sometimes), but I want to transcend the “I-myself,” the “I-as-narcissist.” I want my poetry to be more than just about me.”

    We concur that these fine poems offer many rewards to readers. We hope you will enjoy this gift of poetry: lilacs in November. -- AH

  • 0 read more The Mennonite Screenwriter

    The Mennonite Screenwriter

    by Sidney King

    Screenwriters tend to spend a lot of time thinking about titles.

    In the image-conscious and attention span-challenged world of popular movie-making, a script’s title is the shorthand the reader or producer uses to infer all sorts of things about a script without having to turn a single page: genre, commercial viability, stakes, story hook, character.

    A good movie title will tell you exactly what the movie is, and will do so with very few words.

    Jaws...good. Ghostbusters...good. Titanic...good.

    Potential ticket-buyers don’t even have to look at the poster or watch the trailer to know that they’re probably ...

  • 0 read more Misery & Miracles: Our Brief Hollywood Career

    Misery & Miracles: Our Brief Hollywood Career

    by Don Yost and Joel Kauffmann

    Part 1 – From How It All Started to the Peaks and Valleys


    I got into writing screenplays long before I knew it – or knew that writing screenplays was a craft or career. From the time I snuck into my first movie as a teen (from the corrupting influence of non-Mennonite friends), I was hooked. Movies seemed everything that the rural Mennonite world of the early ‘60s was not: loud, brash, colorful, dramatic and emotive. At first, movies also seemed to lack seriousness. Then, just before I left for college, The Graduate hit the silver screen, proving that ...

  • 0 read more White Nights, Black Mondays

    White Nights, Black Mondays

    by Jeremy Frey

    Audition: You get what you risk.

    One of many cattle calls in the late ‘90s found me landing an extra role in response to the local Casting Director’s hotline: “We’re looking for ‘real people,’” code for non-actors. After years on stage, as an upstart film actor, I was on my way to some of the most rewarding, exciting work possible. Harpo Productions to co-produce with Disney Films. Oprah Winfrey to star alongside Danny Glover, under the direction of Jonathan Demme. And all this in Philadelphia, home of only a few non-independent films each year.

    Working on film sets quickly ...

  • 1 read more SELECTED POEMS


    by Christine Ruth Wiebe

    These poems were selected from a manuscript of over 100 poems culled by Katie Funk Wiebe and Joanna Wiebe from Christine Wiebe’s papers. This thematic selection of poems suggests the range of Christine’s interests and the depth to which she probed them. Her poems are deeply sensitive to language as a tool of creation, disturbance, and integration. The section titles—Words, Father Loss, The Body, Nature’s Order, Exploration, Oblate, Dreams—have been created by the editor.--AH

  • 0 read more How to Stay Alive

    How to Stay Alive

    by Christine Ruth Wiebe

    Christine Wiebe wrote this book with the hope that her personal responses to her illness would help those in similar circumstances, or those close to people living with chronic illness. A limited edition was produced for her family and friends. We are please to publish excerpts from it with the permission of Katie Funk Wiebe. All of the illustrations are also by Christine Wiebe--AH

  • 0 read more A Few Words for Christine Wiebe

    A Few Words for Christine Wiebe

    by Jeff Gundy

    We arrived at Hesston College in fall 1980, almost exactly thirty years ago. The job had come up unexpectedly—I had planned to stay in grad school and finish my dissertation—but then, as now, times were tough in academia, and who could pass up actual, full-time employment? My lofty ABD status got me a corner office in the library, with not one but two narrow windows. My wife Marlyce had been hired to type letters and answer the phone for the religion department. We felt like we were finally joining the grown-up world.

    In the office next to mine, I soon ...