Glenlea Mennonite Church Sunday morning, once upon a time.   

Having played Simon Stimson in our high school production of Our Town, it seemed fitting to become the choir director of the Glenlea Mennonite Church, pictured here. While this white clapboard structure wasn’t that different from most prairie churches, I always appreciated the windows you could look through, and as the sages say, they were the cracks the light shone through. It was smaller I think than the church that Margaret Laurence might have attended in Neepawa. The Margaret Laurence House was host to a fundraising tea and public readings by Manitoba writers just a week ago.

The audio below is posted in three parts, the first being “Jimmy Bang Goes to Church,” from my Jimmy Bang Poems published in 1979 by Turnstone Press. The second is from The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, and the last from my Afghanistan Confessions, published by Hagios in 2014.

from Jimmy Bang Poems, Turnstone Pres, 1979 page 27, read by Victor Enns

from The Diviners, pages 108 – 110, Bantam Books 1975 edition, read by Victor Enns

There is a connectionn here, that goes past prairie churches. My mother liked to read, so did my father but they read differently. My mother liked to be in the know and enjoyed teaching for the contact it gave her with young people, students. She also enjoyed the salary and independence.  She read the 1975 Bantam edition of The Diviners, paperback after I did in 1976 I think. She asked me for a book to read, and whether there was another Laurence, the one that was causing all the fuss.

The controversy about Laurence’s novels often centred on this particular book. Through a chain of unfortunate circumstances, my dad insisted on driving me to Mary Scorer’s on Osborne so I could get a copy of my Jimmy Bang Poems which starts “They fucked….” I found my chapbook on the rack and went to the cashier to pay and rushed past my Dad who had followed his natural instincts and opened the book to the first page. I didn’t turn to look. I found ways to entertain myself in the Village and downtown,  getting home well after dark and Dad had gone to bed. My mother was waiting-up in the kitchen and on this occasion at least, brokered a peace. “You know Dad’s reading isn’t up to date. I know writers use those words now, I’ve read The Diviners. I like Margaret Laurence’s books. It was never spoken of again in the house

Margaret Laurence House,
Neepawa, Manitoba

from Afghanistan Confessions, Hagios 2014, pages 8 and 32 read by Victor Enns.



This entry was posted in Family Matters, Listening, Music for Men Over Fifty: Poems of Love and Surgery, pain room blogish, Podcasts, Poems, Quotations, Reading Canadian Poems, Shit My Mother Said, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

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