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Academic Conferences

Mennonite/s Writing VI: Solos and Harmonies

Thursday, March 29-Sunday, April 1, 2012Jan Luyken

The sixth in a series of Mennonite Writing conferences in the United States and Canada came to the East Coast of the United States for the first time in spring 2012.

Participants enjoyed a performance by Canadian Mennonite playwright Vern Thiessen and a reading and lecture by Charlottesville, Va., poet Greg Orr. Writers included Katherine Arnoldi, Todd Davis, Dora Dueck, Jeff Gundy, Jean Janzen, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Keith Ratzlaff and Rudy Wiebe.

The festival program included readings, scholarly paper presentations, writing workshops, performances, book-signings, and feasting.

Conference Schedule

At the 2012 conference, we enjoyed the following program:

  • A Friday night performance by Vern Thiessen of Back to Berlin, a funny and lyrical look at fathers and sons. In this fast moving, 45 minute solo show, Vern Thiessen takes us on a trip with his father, back to Berlin, to discover the secrets lying in the city—and his father’s past. The show will be followed with a Q & A session with Hildi Froese Tiessen.
  • A Saturday lecture by Gregory Orr on ethics and aesthetics, followed by a reading of his poetry.
  • Updates on the state of the art by Hildi Froese Tiessen and Ann Hostetler.
  • A panel on theopoetics with Peter Dula, Jeff Gundy, Jean Janzen, and Scott Holland.
  • A performance of Jean Janzen and Alice Parker’s oratorio, “That Sturdy Vine.”
  • Paper presentations, panels, workshops, conversations and feasting.
  • Speeches, performances, and readings by a growing list of artists including
    • Katherine Arnoldi
    • Stephen Raleigh Byler
    • Todd Davis
    • Dora Dueck
    • Jeff Gundy
    • Ann Hostetler
    • Jean Janzen
    • Julia Spicher Kasdorf
    • Keith Ratzlaff
    • Sofia Samatar
    • Rudy Wiebe

The conference was co-sponsored by Conrad Grebel University College and supported in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Marpeck Foundation.