The Mennonite Literary Society is Suspending the Publication Rhubarb

Subscriptions are no longer available, and renewals will not be accepted. Here’s why

Rhubarb magazine launched its first issue in November 1998 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The event featured Rudy Wiebe talking about Peace Shall Destroy Many, originally published in 1962 to great consternation in certain sectors of the Mennonite community. There have been other consternations since, but Mennonite writers are now accepted, if not always acceptable, and lauded in the (loosely defined) Mennonite community—preferably if we have been applauded somewhere else first.
Sex (one issue) continues to be the one theological joke we don’t get, and Death (two issues) is catching up with us all. Seriously, though, I am proud of all the issues we’ve published, including, most recently, those regarding “Gender” and “Dis/Ability” (with special thanks to Bernice Friesen and Di Brandt) which concluded our themed issues in 2016.
Rhubarb magazine issues R40 Mennonite Poets, R41 Mennonite Stories and R42 Encounters with Mennonite Fiction are my summary achievement, providing anthologies marking a particular period (1962 to the present), by and about writers shaped by a peculiar community (mostly descendants of Mennonite immigrants of the 1870s, 1920s and 1940s migrations). Book editions of each issue were printed with the assistance of the Gerhard Lohrenz Publications Fund and, we hope, will become a resource for Mennonite studies, whether or not they are located in Mennonite secondary, post-secondary or graduate institutions.

All three books are good reads, and the artwork and design attractive enough for display and gift giving. Thanks to all the contributing writers, of course, and to Clarise Foster and Hildi Froese Tiessen for curating/editing R40 and R42; David Bergen for selecting the stories for R41, and Maurice Mierau for introducing them; Deborah Dannely, Murray Toews and Matthew Tiessen for artwork; and Terry Corrigan and Relish New Brand Experience for design and (with Friesens) production. Thanks always to a very long list of hard-working volunteers, writers, artists, subscribers and donors who made Rhubarb issues 1–42 possible, and especially my brother Garry, whose idea it was to approach the Board of the Mennonite Literary Society when they were looking to pass on the Society’s work and charitable number back in 1992, when they discontinued the publication of the Mennonite Mirror after its twenty-year run.

Now Rhubarb is finished its nineteen-year run, and with this message to its readership, I am announcing that Rhubarb, in its current iteration, has come to an end. The Mennonite Literary Society will remain and complete its reporting, as we hope a fresh group of enthusiasts will form a new board and develop a new writing and publishing mandate before the end of the decade. I’ll leave the last words to John Cage, “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones,” with a caution that many an old person has new ideas—and that many people do not realize they have the liberty to have new ideas, and should not be asking for permission to have them.

Victor Enns
Publisher and executive editor of Rhubarb magazine
President, Mennonite Literary Society
August 9, 2017