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Mennonite Writing Conference Coming to EMU


Registration EXTENDED to March 23!

Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) will host a Mennonite writing conference and literary festival March 29-April 1. The sixth in a series of Mennonite Writing conferences in the United States and Canada, the conference comes to the East Coast of the United States for the first time this spring.

“If you love to read or write, whether you’re Mennonite, MennoNot, or Menno-curious, this conference is for you,” said conference co-chair Kirsten Eve Beachy, assistant professor of language and literature at EMU.

“Mennonite/s Writing VI: Solos and Harmonies” will feature a performance by Canadian Mennonite playwright Vern Thiessen and a reading and lecture by Charlottesville, Va., poet Greg Orr. A growing list of Mennonite scholars and writers, including Katherine Arnoldi, Stephen Raleigh Byler, Todd Davis, Dora Dueck, Jeff Gundy, Ann Hostetler, Jean Janzen, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Keith Ratzlaff, Sofia Samatar, Hildi Froese Tiessen, and Rudy Wiebe will share their work.

Several events are open to the public, including a kick-off poetry reading followed by an orchestra concert on Thursday evening; a Friday night performance by Vern Thiessen of Back to Berlin, a funny and lyrical look at a father and son on a trip to Berlin to discover secrets lying in the city—and in the father’s past; a lecture on “Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Lyric” by Charlottesville poet Gregory Orr Saturday morning, followed by a reading of his poetry. The conference will close with a Sunday morning meditation by Rudy Wiebe.

The festival program for conference registrants includes over seventy different presentations: readings, scholarly paper presentations, writing workshops, performances, book-signings, excursions and feasting. “Our cup is full and running over when it comes to the program,” said Beachy. “You can’t possibly see everything offered during the weekend, but you’ll have a lot of great options. It’s a good reflection of the abundant and diverse voices coming out of Mennonite faith and culture.”

The conference committee, co-chaired by Spicher Kasdorf, includes Mennonite writers and scholars from Bluffton, Goshen and EMU. Conrad Grebel University College (Waterloo, Ont.), co-sponsors the conference, and committee member Hildi Froese Tiessen of Conrad Grebel convened the first Mennonite writing conference there in 1990.

The conference is sponsored in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Marpeck Foundation.

For more information contact Kirsten Eve Beachy at kirsten.beachy@emu.edu. The full conference schedule and online registration can be found at emu.edu/mennos-writing.

Special rates are available for students and seniors.

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