The launch

The weather in Winnipeg has been wonderfully fine and everything feels green and alive again, and in the midst of it all, yesterday evening, the occasion of launching “This Hidden Thing.” My longest-time friend Eunice came from Edmonton for the event (and some good conversation, as always) and many other local friends and family came too. I think we all — CMU Press and McNally Robinsons Bookstore and those of us who participated in one way or another — thought it had gone exceedingly well. I feel so grateful and blessed for the support and interest of others.

I can’t say I wasn’t a bit nervous, but once I got into reading the texts I’d selected for my small sampling, I felt completely at home again, and inside those words (using launch as a nautical image, rather than explosion as in sending off a rocket!) the book slipped off into its journey as a book. Felt at home, I say, but it’s curious, and I’m sure other writers know what I mean, there’s a kind of detachment too. The book sails away, and I’m on shore.  It’s where I want to be.

Signing books. (Both photos: Eunice Sloan)


News and notes

1. The launch of my book, This Hidden Thing, is about a week and a half away now. I expect that for a short time, at least, the book will have something of a life of its own, so I’ve given it a separate page, above. I’ll probably say something about the launch event here after it happens on May 19, but I’ll park reviews and other stuff related to it there. Already up, the news release Jonathan Dyck of CMU Press put together, the book flyer, and order information. 

2. I’ve agreed to serve on the advisory council for the Chair in Mennonite Studies at the University of Winnipeg for the next three years. This is a relatively easy and also pleasurable task, involving free lunch twice a year at the university and listening/responding to a report of what Royden Loewen, as well as students and other professors involved with the Chair are up to. They’re up to a lot, actually, including the planning of two conferences this year, one on Mennonites in Siberia which is taking place in Omsk, Siberia in June, and one in Winnipeg, Oct. 14-16, called “Mennonites, Melancholy and Mental Health: Historical Reflections.” I’m under no obligation to “do press” for the Chair, but some of the papers proposed for the latter (examples: “Madness in my Family’s Journey,” “Duke Ferdinand vs Pilgram Marpeck: Lunatics or Preachers of Care,” “Trauma, War and Soviet Mennonite Women Refugees”) sound so interesting I’m keen to offer advance notice. Further information here.

3. Another event that greatly intrigues me, which unfortunately I not be able to attend as we’ll be away on holidays then, is “Celebrating 150 Years!” This has been organized by Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) for June 5-6 in Winnipeg. I’ve mentioned the 150 year celebrations of the Mennonite Brethren in this blog. This conference recognizes that anniversary, but also the 150-year anniversary of the formation of the General Conference Mennonite Church formed in Iowa in 1860. (This body is now Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA.) These two 150-year-old bodies are the  supporting denominational bodies of  CMU — “two compelling stories…brought together in a special way.”

“[I]t is appropriate to reflect on what we have experienced and learned with and from ‘the other’,” states the conference invitation. Presenters of workshops and discussions have been drawn from both bodies and topics include “Exploring Stereotypes,” “Marriage across the MB-GC Divide,” and “Periodicals as Windows.”