Rhubarb’s readiness to ‘stir things up’

Dear Rhubarb,

I’m writing to voice admiration for your recent Mennonite Sex issue, especially its provocative dual covers. Together they seem to evoke and enrich a binary at the heart of this publication: The outside cover, a carnal brazen demonstration of its own words, take it all off, and the inside cover, in contrast, a portrayal of motionless closed constraint, “clean-swept industrious Mennoniteville,” as Nightingale writes. Both prohibition and permission intertwine on each page; we read of repression, sermons, scoldings, and run-away eroticism in college practice rooms, barns, fields …

What strikes me most about the covers, though, is that beyond merely adding sparks to the issue’s binary tension, each cover, especially the outside one, seems to prepare us readers for courageous disclosure in the writing that follows. The outside cover says, “brace yourself, you haven’t heard it all.” It lowers the lights, so to speak, creating anticipation of events and first-time encounters. Weirdly fabulous! What better way to elicit daring engagement from your readers than to show Rhubarb’s own readiness to ‘stir things up’, take a chance, and take it all off.

Jan DeFehr