Preface
Songs from an Empty Cage
Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism, and Peace

Like most books, this one has been both a lonely project and one that would not exist without the help, suggestions, scholarship, creativity, and conversation of many friends and colleagues. J. Denny Weaver, my longtime conversation partner, was instrumental in convincing me to pay attention to Mennonite writing and in offering generous amounts of advice and information all along the way. Others have also served as listening boards and instructors on topics directly or indirectly addressed here. 

The Bluffton community has provided me with a great deal of support; I am deeply indebted to Bluffton College (now University) and the Bluffton College Study Center, which have provided sabbaticals and summer grants, and to the Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Humanities Council for fellowships and speaking opportunities. Karen Bontrager helped greatly with the formatting and proofreading of the final manuscript. Among my many colleagues and friends, I must especially thank Mary Ann Sullivan, Lisa Robeson, Lamar Nisly, Judith Kingsley, Gregg Luginbuhl, Gerald Biesecker-Mast, Susan Biesecker-Mast, Perry Bush, Gayle Trollinger, Bill Trollinger, John Kampen, and Lee Snyder. Librarians and archivists Ann Hilty at Bluffton and Joe Springer, John Sharp, and Dennis Stoesz in Goshen have been patient and helpful with research questions. 

Colleagues, friends and editors in the larger Mennonite world have provided feedback, publication, and inspiration over many years: thanks to Theron Schlabach, John Roth, Ervin Beck, John Fisher, Todd Davis, Ruth Krall, Ann Hostetler, James Juhnke, Ami Regier, Brad Born, Raylene Hinz-Penner, Carroll Yoder, Hildi Froese Tiessen, Paul Tiessen, Arnold Snyder, Marlene Epp, Victor Jerrett Enns, Pete Blum, Scott Holland, and others I am surely forgetting. Thanks to Elizabeth Fricke, Erin Wahl, and Chad VanBuskirk for their invaluable help with the index. 

Finally, I am most grateful for those Mennonite poets, novelists and writers who have become my friends, mentors, and fellow travelers: Julia Kasdorf, Keith Ratzlaff, Jean Janzen, Dallas Wiebe, Sheri Hostetler, David Wright, Di Brandt, Patrick Friesen, and many others.

—Jeff Gundy, Bluffton, Ohio

 

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