Filling in the spaces: An interview with Connie T. Braun

In my opinion, a book that takes me into another person’s world while also sending me off into my own (as I lift my eyes from the page) is a good book! So it was with Silentium: And Other Reflections on Memory, Sorrow, Place, and the Sacred (Wipf & Stock, 2017) by Connie T. Braun.51UcJrDqkNL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

This collection of poetry and essays forms a memoir both of Connie’s mother, who fled Poland in the upheavals of the Second World War, and Connie herself, as we enter her childhood and powerful family bonds in B.C.’s Fraser Valley, and travel along to sites of family history. It’s memoir, yes, but a kind of “quest” or discovery literature too.

I experienced many resonances as I read: our common Mennonite heritage, our appreciation for the writing of Patricia Hampl, places H. and I also saw on a tour to Poland. And the surprise mention of Linden, Alberta, where I grew up! I was also taken into the differences, my immigration past being the 1920s arrival of my grandparents to Canada, hers a postwar arrival. Connie Braun has become one of the most significant Mennonite writer-witnesses to that particular period and those events. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Before 2017 disappears completely, let me wish everyone who reads this a safe and happy new year. A couple of comments on the way out….

  • I posted 11 times this year. I just counted and I’m surprised. I thought I’d done better than that. Maybe I can average once a month in 2018! 🙂 I still enjoy stopping by Borrowing Bones now and then, and I hope you do too.
  • I’m venturing a new blog, which will be more niche, more specific, than this one. Chronicles of Aging, I’m calling it, with the intention to post out of my experience of being in the last quarter of my life. I’m not old-old, but old nevertheless. Writing will be a way for me to notice and share what I observe in the process. I plan to post more frequently than here, but have determined to keep the entries short, 300 words max. I invite you to check it out, and if it’s your niche or interest, to follow or, if you prefer not to get email notifications, to bookmark the site.
  • I didn’t get around to a “best of 2017” list of books but I recently enjoyed Rose Tremain’s The Road Home. It’s been a while since I felt myself so drawn into and rooting for a character as I did with Lev, a widowed fortyish immigrant to London from a formerly communist country. Tremain is a superb and deeply empathetic writer. As for movies, I recommend “Wonder,” an important story about bullying and courage and good parenting. I’ll call these the best of the year and leave it at that.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton in Vancouver

My daughter and I joined a crowd of some 5000 at the convention centre in Vancouver this morning/afternoon to hear Hillary Rodham Clinton. We’ve both been Canadian fans of hers and were very disappointed when she lost the U.S. election just over a year ago; an evening that we thought would be a celebration of the first woman president turned into a long walk in the crisp night air to process our disbelief and emotions.

I’m not posting here to stump for Hillary in retrospect, however, but just to tell a little about today’s event from my perspective–because it was great fun and inspiriting too. We arrived soon after the doors opened 9-ish, though it didn’t start until 11:30. A long line had already formed around the building. We secured the closest spots possible in the cavernous hall, in the Silver section, also known as the Somewhat Cheaper Seats Where You Don’t Get a Copy of the Book. But no problem, I’ve already read the warm and very honest memoir, What Happened, and enjoyed it. For the next hours we hung out together, talking and reading and chatting with folks seated around us. The woman next to me had a HRC figurine in her purse. She kept it on her desk, she said, for inspiration I presume. So, without direct access to Hillary herself we photographed the figurine in the blue pantsuit, and the poster!

 

 

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