Creativity Corner

All About the Arts

Art meets Life: An Interview with Ex-Amish Author Saloma Miller Furlong

By Sabrina Völz

Saloma Miller FurlongSaloma Miller Furlong is author of the ex-Amish serial memoirs, Why I Left the Amish (2011) and Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds (2014). She has also been featured on PBS American Experience documentaries, The Amish and The Amish: Shunned. Furlong’s debut memoir opens with a meditation on death in Amish society as she struggles to come to terms with her own father’s passing. Returning for the funeral stirs up memories of her childhood, troubled teenage years, and abuse. The complex interplay between age, class, gender, tradition, and her father’s mental illness serve as obstacles to her recovery. After years of being pushed to the margins of Amish society, the young woman hits rock bottom. Ultimately, however, she takes charge of her life and makes the impossible decision to put the Amish world behind her. Why I Left the Amish is an uncomfortable story, but – at the same time – one of empowerment. In this first segment of her interview, Furlong discusses the writing process as well as the healing power of both nature and human dialogue. Read more »

“Dust”

By Christopher Rieckmann

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Dust. The first thing he noticed was the hot, dry air and the dust creeping through the tiny slit between his mask and pali scarf. He felt dizzy, and he didn’t know where he was, almost like waking up after a long, deep dream. He stood still trying to calm his breath, but the heat remained unrelenting. It was dark where he was. He found himself under a shelter, a bridge of sorts with bright sunlight on both sides. He felt sweat running from his forehead along his mask down his nose and tasted the salty liquid on his lips. It dripped from his neck all the way down to his boots. A waterfall of sweat. He wanted to move, get out of this heat, out of his clothes, but something made him freeze. He looked down and noticed black boots, pants, a jacket, a protection vest, and gloves as he vanished into the shadows. Only then did he realize that he was not alone. Read more »

Live Long and Make Bannock

By Drew Hayden Taylor

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A million years ago when I was a child, I was always fascinated by what could be. I think this was primarily because I was surrounded by what was. As a Native person, I was constantly made aware of our heritage, our culture, everything from the past that made us unique and special. Also I was conscious of the fact that – technologically speaking – we were at a bit of a disadvantage to those who showed up one day for dinner and never left. I remember the first time I saw television, played with a computer, watched Star Trek, and got an electric toothbrush. Darn clever those White people. Native people constantly wonder at the clever innovations and devices the dominant culture feels the need to create – everything from vibrators to nuclear bombs.  Read more »

Inquisitive Minds Want to Know: A Mixed Bag of Questions for Ira Wagler – Part II

By Sabrina Völz

If you missed the previous blog, then click here. Last week, we left off with Ira Wagler talking about the difficulty of writing Growing Up Amish. In the following video, he continues in the same vein with the tricky topics of guilt, reception of his book, and the challenge of finding the right title, just to name a few. Without further ado, the American Studies Blog now brings you Part II.

Still have questions? Then why not get a copy of Ira Wagler’s book, explore the leading website on Amish studies, or join the Amish scholars, professionals, and educators at the international conference, “Continuity and Change: 50 Years of Amish Society” hosted by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania from June 9-11, 2016?

Inquisitive Minds Want to Know: A Mixed Bag of Questions for Ira Wagler – Part I

By Sabrina Völz

Questions. Questions. There are always questions, especially when dealing with the Old Order Amish. And questions there were – plenty of questions – following The New York Times best-selling author Ira Wagler’s talk at the Plain People Conference at Leuphana University. In fact, the Q&A ran slightly longer than his introductory remarks to Growing Up Amish. Of course, this really shouldn’t be surprising since Wagler has a unique way of connecting with his audience, an audience on this particular sweltering evening made up of scholars, students, upper-secondary English teachers, and residents of Lüneburg. Reflecting the diversity of that delightful audience, the questions dealt with everything from trauma to the Pennsylvania Dutch. So, if you are Ira Wagler’s fan, an avid American Studies Blog reader, or a student trying to pep up your presentation on the Amish, you can be sure to find ample food for thought.

Wishing for more? Then tune in next week for Part II.

“Art comes out of desire in the face of indifference”: An Interview with lê thi diem thúy

By Maryann Henck, Maria Moss, and Sabrina Völz

lê thi diem thúy at Leuphana University in May 2015
lê thi diem thúy at Leuphana University in May 2015

When lê thi diem thúy (pronounced “twee”) visited Leuphana University this past May, not only did our students have the opportunity to attend her reading and talk, the three of us also had the pleasure of interviewing her. lê thi diem thúy is the author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Gangster We Are All Looking For, but primarily sees herself as a poet. If you’re looking for some creative inspiration to start off the new year, take a peek at the interview.

ASB: When did you first decide to become a writer?

thúy: It was never decided that I would become a writer. What I wanted, ever since I was a child and first learned to read, was to be with words. Reading was both a challenge and a consolation, stories were worlds I could enter, and from a young age I understood that words somehow summoned worlds.  At first I only wanted to be transported as a reader. Perhaps I became a writer when I realized that I, too, carried worlds within myself, and words were the key to unlock those worlds and release people, places, moments, questions, desires.  Read more »