#160 Leonard N. Neufeldt
March 09th, 2016
LOCATION: Yarrow Library, 4670 Community Street, Yarrow, Fraser Valley, 90 kilometres east of Vancouver, 12 miles southwest of Chilliwack.
DIRECTIONS: Take #3 turnoff for Cultus Lake from Highway #1.
The parents of Leonard N. Neufeldt arrived only months after 86 European immigrants settled in Yarrow and created a thriving Mennonite community in 1928 between Vedder Mountain and Sumas Mountain. Born and raised in the Dutch-German-Russian Mennonite hamlet, Neufeldt fondly remembers Yarrow’s public library down the street, as well as “our raspberry fields, the music in our church, and the school and its playground across the street from our home.” Leonard Neufeldt’s grandfather and father had both been placed under arrest by Bolshevik agents for transport to the Gulag, but they escaped to Canada via Spain, Cuba and Mexico. His maternal grandmother accounts for his Ashkenazic connection.
Leonard Neufeldt is acutely aware how Yarrow has been unable to offer most of its young people career opportunities. “The 1950s witnessed a modest but gradual decline in the Mennonite population,” he writes, “the 1960s a precipitous one.” Edited by Leonard Neufeldt, Before We Were the Land’s (2002) and Village of Unsettled Yearnings (2002) both recall Yarrow’s origins. His poetry collection, Raspberrying (1991), recalls how refugees from Stalin’s Soviet Union came to the Fraser Valley to grow fruit, serve God and preserve their ethnic culture. It was followed two years later by a collection simply entitled Yarrow.
Neufeldt graduated summa cum laude from Waterloo Lutheran University (Wilfred Laurier) and received his MA and Ph.D in the USA. He was appointed Professor of American Studies at Purdue University in 1978. He and his wife have spent most of their professional years in America and abroad, notably in Europe and Turkey. Lecture tours have taken him to India (twice), Germany, Korea and China. “Rootless lives may be as endemic to the Canadian and American West as root-bound ones,” he laments, “but in a world of change, there is little defence for either condition.”
Neufeldt’s scholarly essays and books have appeared with Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Princeton University Press, among others. More recently his seventh book of poetry, Painting Over Sketches of Anatolia (Signature 2015), reflects life both Turkey and coastal B.C. Neufeldt considers “wars, revolutions, the Holocaust, obsolete belief systems, Alzheimer’s and ever-present potentialities of the autistic as well as the illusory in the spoken or written word.”
Painting Over Sketches of Anatolia (original poems). Signature Editions, 2015. $14.95
How to Beat the Heat in Bodrum (chapbook of original poems). Alfred Gustav Press, 2010.
The Coat is Thin (original poems). Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing House, 2008.
Before We Were the Land’s (co-author and editor). Horsdal & Schubert, 2002. Heritage Award.
Car Failure North of Nîmes (original poems). Black Moss Press, 1994.
Yarrow (original poems). Black Moss Press, 1993.
Raspberrying (original poems). Black Moss Press, 1991. Nominee for Lambert Prize.
The Economist: Henry Thoreau and Enterprise. Oxford Univ. Press, 1989.
The House of Emerson. Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1982; reissued, Books in Demand, 1994. Awarded “1983 Best Academic Book,” (national). Nominee for Christian Gauss Prize, Phi Beta Kappa Society.
A Way of Walking (original poems). Univ. of New Brunswick Press Fiddlehead Series, 1972.
(Co-editor) Half in the Sun: Anthology of Mennonite Writing. Ronsdale Press, 2006.
Village of Unsettled Yearnings. Horsdal & Schubert, 2002. Heritage Award.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: New Appraisals. Transcendental Books, 1973.
CSE Scholarly Editions:
(Principal editor), Journal Volume 4 of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau. Princeton Univ. Press, 1992.
(Contributing editor), Journal Volume 3 of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau. Princeton Univ. Press, 1990.
(Co-editor), Journal Volume 2 of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau. Princeton Univ. Press, 1984.
(Contributing editor) Journal Volume 1 of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau. Princeton Univ. Press, 1981.
“Praetextus as Text: Editor Critic Responses to Thoreau’s Journal.” Arizona Quarterly, 46 (Winter 1990).
Serials (Guest editor):
Co-editor, Rhubarb, Special West Coast Issue, no. 11 (Fall 2005).
Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Symposium. American Transcendental Quarterly, no. 31(Summer 1976).