An explanation. Its been nearly a year since the last issue of Rhubarb. I might suggest this was a clever conceptual move for our Silence theme, but Id be leading you down a garden path. Neither are we broke, though we have no money beyond what it takes to pay the printer and the contributors. It just means this is a completely volunteer effort. Ive taken a full-time day job as the Executive Director of the Winnipeg Film Group and havent yet conscripted enough other volunteers to make this publication go any faster. Rhubarb is still committed to giving you four issues for a subscription, but they may take longer in coming.
Web Page. Thanks to Jen Sharpe, Rhubarb has a new website. If you're here, you know about it. Jen was here on a work placement from Red River College.
Volunteers. While we can use volunteers and contributors from anywhere in the world thanks to the internet, we really need a few stalwart Winnipeg volunteers to do the work of processing subscriptions, handling correspondence (I rarely answer surface mail, not a good thing in an editor), proofreading, producing the issue in Pagemaker 6.5, and maintaining the Web Page. Volunteering will be easier now that Rhubarb is no longer headquartered in my house.
Themes. This year we will try to publish two more issues after this Number 8. Number 9 (spring/ summer) with Music as the theme, guest edited by Board member Paul Krahn, and Number 10 (fall/winter) given over to Protest (putting the protest back in protestant). Other upcoming themes under consideration are Fire (as we consider one element every four issues, the Water issue was Number 7), City (though Royden Loewen may have this covered with last years conference in Winnipeg and in the Journal of Mennonite Studies) and Media. Well keep you posted.
Stirring. Rhubarb is looking for new writing to stir the blood, and the Mennonite pot. Is the word flat? Are we willing to go to the edge and see whether we fall off or find new words? Check out our submission guidelines, and explore a little. We also need letters, recipes and jokes.
606. Rhubarb has a new office, shared with two other organizations: the Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association and the Manitoba Library Association. This keeps the rent down to a reasonable $61/month plus the phone connection. It also gives us limited office services including access to photocopying and a fax machine. We received a Winnipeg Foundation grant, which allowed us to buy a computer dedicated to Rhubarb and will help with a web page and a direct mail campaign.
Our new office, fittingly enough, with a slight hint of transgression for those familiar with the brown Mennonite hymnal, is in Room 606-100 Arthur Street, in the ArtSpace building; an old six-story building from the turn of the century converted into an arts organization and artist co-op in the heart of Winnipegs historic Exchange district, two blocks from the famous corner of Portage and Main. My office for my day-job is in the same building so its relatively easy to check my email daily. It does mean I usually come in to 606 on Sundays for a weekly Rhubarb devotional. Oh and in another it-is-to laugh-moment, I got my first hearing aids as I was preparing this Silence issue.
In this issue. There are three theme-related excerpts from three major writers: Julia Kasdorf, Rudy Wiebe and Sandra Birdsell. Evie Miller explores Silence and its relationship to her writing. Grace Nickel provides us visual reference to the strength of silence in her work as a ceramic artist. There are new poems by emerging writers JL Bond and Bob Martens. And there are many reviews. A lot of reviews have been collected since our last issue. As a result we have expanded this issue to 52 pages so we could get it all in. There will be as many in the next issue, including reviews of the excerpted books by Kasdorf, Wiebe and Birdsell. The end page is given over to Armin Wiebe and his meditation on Silence. Enjoy.