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Poet Jean Janzen to present Menno Simons Lectures at Bethel College

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Poet Jean Janzen from Fresno, Calif., will speak on the theme "Elements of Faithful Writing" Nov. 2 to 4 for the 52nd Menno Simons Lectureship series at Bethel College in North Newton. Janzen’s first lecture, "Mud: The Mound that Saves Us" is set for 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 2. All lectures are in Krehbiel Auditorium, Fine Arts Center.

At 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 3, she will present "Water: Wailing in the Shower."

At 7:30 p.m., Nov. 3, she will speak on "Fire and Air: Breathing the Light," and the Sunflower Trio will premiere three J. Harold Moyer compositions with texts by Jean Janzen. The selections are "November Night," "Variations" and "Cellar Blues." Moyer is professor emeritus of music at Bethel College. The trio includes violinist Rebecca Schloneger of the Bethel College Academy of Music, tenor Matthew Schloneger and pianist Ken Rodgers, both of Hesston College.

The final lecture is at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 4 when Janzen will speak on "Text: Marking the Stone." During this program mezzo-soprano Kathryn Kasper and pianist Karen Schlabaugh of the Bethel College faculty will perform "There Are Days," five Jean Janzen poems that Moyer set to music in 1994.

Janzen has taught poetry writing at Fresno Pacific University and Eastern Mennonite University. She received her undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from California State University-Fresno, where she studied with poets Philip Levine and Peter Everwine.

She has five collections of published poems, including her most recent "Tasting the Dust," (Good Books, 2000). Earlier collections are "Words for the Silence," "Three Mennonite Poets," "The Upside-Down Tree" and "Snake in the Parsonage." Her poems have been included in numerous anthologies and magazines. She was a 1995 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Since the inclusion of her hymn texts in "Hymnal: A Worship Book," in 1992, her texts have been chosen for other hymnbooks.

"Jean Janzen is interested in the four basic elements because, as she puts it, they call to her ‘as a Mennonite Christian who is human.’ Her lectures will remind us of the common humanity that binds us together. By incorporating music composed by Harold Moyer into her lectures she underlines this point. At the same time, Janzen will make us aware of the distinctive experiences of being human that come from being Christians and Mennonites," says Mark Jantzen, assistant professor of history.

Admission is free and open to the public. Discussion will follow each lecture.

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