Melvin D. Epp will talk about and sign copies of his book, “Petals of a Kansas Sunflower: A Mennonite Diasporab” at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Whitewater Memorial Library, 118 E. Topeka, Whitewater. The event is free and open to the public.
This anthology of Epp’s mother’s poetry was published in December. Marie Harder Epp was a village poet and for 60 years contributed uniquely personalized poetry for relatives and friends to enhance celebrations within her community.
The 105 poems are embedded in historical narrative to enlarge the understanding of her poetic statements. Because she wrote between 1929 and 1991, she recorded the twentieth century.
Her poetry also traces the history of her ancestors immigrating to Kansas in 1876 and initiating a worship center in the first building completed among the tall grasses—the granary on the Bernhard Harder Sr. farm, forming the nucleus of the Emmaus Mennonite Church.
The poems record the history of the community as people were born, married, died, and tamed the prairies with church, cemeteries, schools, and prosperous farms, which had hand-dug wells, and were accessible to markets with railroad services. Marie created a female perspective of history with her poems.
To develop an understanding of what it meant personally for Epp’s ancestors to follow Anabaptist teachings, he attached two appendices tracing the impact of being Anabaptist from the Reformation through Holland to Prussia and West Prussia, and continuing to the time they got on the SS Rhein at the New Harbor in Bremerhaven.
In a third appendix, he detailed the tornado of June 8, 1941 to put a historical perspective on that tragic event, which ripped through the very heart of the community a year before his birth, but served as a reference point in time for his family. The farm created by his great-grandfather was demolished.
This book is available to order online at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Amazon.com in print and Kindle format. Copies will also be available through the author.