From Yarrow to Anatolia
May 13th, 2015
Yarrow was a once thriving Mennonite community that was established in 1928 when 86 settlers arrived from Europe, including the parents of Leonard N. Neufeldt.
“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.”
Born and raised in the immigrant Dutch-Russian Mennonite hamlet of Yarrow, Neufeldt became a professor of American Studies at Purdue in 1978.
Edited by Neufeldt, Before We Were the Land’s (TouchWood $19.95) and Village of Unsettled Yearnings (TouchWood $21.95), both recall Yarrow’s origins.
His poetic recreation of life in Yarrow, Raspberrying (2003), has recalled how refugees from the Soviet Union came to the Fraser Valley to grow fruit and serve God. Yarrow was soon unable to offer most of its young people career opportunities.
“The 1950s witnessed a modest but gradual decline in the Mennonite population, the 1960s a precipitous one.” he concludes.
Leonard Neufeldt’s grandfather and father were both 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.
Neufeldt graduated summa cum laude from Waterloo Lutheran University (Wilfred Laurier) and received his MA and Ph.D in the USA. 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.
Neufeldt’s scholarly essays and books have appeared with Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Princeton University press, among others.
Now his seventh book of poetry, Painting Over Sketches of Anatolia (Signature $14.95) offers reflections on both Turkey and coastal B.C. as he 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.” 978-1-927426-65-4
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