Schwestern und Brüder

Canadian Mennonite Brethren Conference, 1966

Canadian Mennonite Brethren conference, 1966

Yes, the women are sitting at the back.  This was the kind of thing that led me to decisively abandon my Mennonite heritage when I left home at 18 years of age.

It was a long, slow road back. Last winter I compiled the following list of Mennonite poets who feel like sisters and brothers to me. One actually is my sister, and another, my cousin.  Of course, the rest are probably all my third cousins.

William Baer “He’d seen this thing before, of course, but never like this”

Anna Ruth Ediger Baehr “I am dancing with my Mennonite father”

Di Brandt “. . . all our night flying has made us bold”

Juanita Brunk “. . .in a shop where I was buying plums a woman was crying”

Cheryl Denise “I spilt Jesus’s blood down my dress”

Patrick Friesen “. . .a man practices his signature filling scrap paper with his name over and over again”

Raylene Hinz-Penner “”Let us rather be summoned by geese”

Ann Hostetler “. . .what was at stake for me was the axiomatic quality of reasoning itself”

Sheri Hostetler “I am like none of you”

Jean Janzen (my mother’s cousin)  “God made the recipe too strong”

Rhoda Janzen “A recipe for lamb tagine demands a mysterious ingredient: raz el hanout.”

Julia Spicher Kasdorf “. . .the man insisted like a child that we take the next exit”

Th. Metzger “Hear O Azazel, the Lord our meat is one meat”

Leonard Neufeldt “In our berry field, Father wanted everything to speak for itself”

Keith Ratzlaff “Today when I framed  two crows  in the notch of the ash tree, I thought of order”

Jane Rohrer “If I had no memory I would say this is perfect”

David Waltner-Toews “One day, perhaps when you are in your forties, he is at your door with a spring of daffodils”

Christine Wiebe (my sister)  “I wish if I am going to get that close to death that I could see it.”

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