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The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life (Center Books in Anabaptist Studies)

When I think I can't bear to trace / one more sorrow back to its source, /... I think of how they tell these stories: / honestly, without explanation, / to whoever will listen. -- "Thinking of Certain Mennonite Women," by Julia Kasdorf, from Eve's Striptease (University of Pittsburgh Press)

This collection of essays by nationally known poet Julia Kasdorf "probe," in her own words, "the tangled threads of gender and cultural/religious identity as they relate to the emergence and exercise of literary authority." Her ten essays, accompanied by forty-two engaging illustrations (from a nude by Titian, to family photos, to a famous image of Marilyn Monroe) and a dozen of her poems, focus on specific aspects of Mennonite life. Often drawing from historical episodes or family stories, Kasdorf pursues themes of martyrdom, landscape, silence, the body, memory, community, and the struggle to articulate experience with a voice that is both authentic to the self and a conversation with her traditional Mennonite and Amish-Mennonite background.

Praise for Julia Kasdorf's previous book, Eve's Striptease:

"Crosshatched by body, spirit, and the relation between them; animated by bright instinctive exchanges between carnal and religious zones of experience; driven by an honest, explicitly female consciousness of what 'animal' and 'soul' might mean, the poems in Eve's Striptease keep pace with a considered life in its search for some consoling 'homeliness' in the world."--Eamon Grennan, author of Relations: New & Selected Poems

"Most readers will be grateful for the gift outright of Kasdorf's achingly beautiful language of desire and of a "full store" of unavoidable passings from discovery to dark discovery and from expectations and surprises of childhood to retrospections and surprises of adulthood."--Mennonite Quarterly Review

"Her poems have an immediate quality that illustrates her ability to explore emotions... Kasdorf's poetry tends to illustrate small situations that have larger implications... Kasdorf also exhibits a keen sense of place in her work, with some lovely descriptions of her birthplace and the magical hold Pennsylvania seems to have on its native sons and daughters."--Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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