Julia Kasdorf Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Though her literary reputation is based primarily on her work as a poet, Julia Kasdorf (KAHZ-dohrf) has written a biography and a collection of essays. In The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life—Essays and Poems (2001), which contains ten essays interspersed with poetry and photographs, Kasdorf explores connections between her faith, her gender, and her poetry. Kasdorf’s Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American (2003) is a biography of the Mennonite prophet who authored Rosanna of the Amish, a work about an Irish Catholic child raised by an Amish woman. Kasdorf and Joshua R. Brown edited Rosanna of the Amish when it was republished in 2008. She and Michael Tyrell edited the poetry anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (2007).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Early in her career, critics recognized Julia Kasdorf as a poet of note. In 1984, while still a student, Kasdorf was awarded the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Prize for Poetry. She received both the 1991 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the 1993 Great Lakes Colleges Award for New Writing for her poetry collection Sleeping Preacher. At the Conference on Christianity and Literature, the Modern Language Association declared The Body and the Book their 2002 Book of the Year. Kasdorf’s poems have been featured in The Paris Review and The New Yorker, among other journals. She received a Pushcart Prize in 2004, a special mention in 2005, and a nomination in 2007.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Birky, Beth Martin. “’Sloughing Off Ribs’: Revealing the Second Sex in Julia Kasdorf’s Poetry.” Mennonite Quarterly Review 77, no. 4 (October, 2003): 589-611. Examines Kasdorf’s poetry about the female body by applying the feminist theory of Simone de Beauvoir expressed in Le Deuxième Sexe (1949; The Second Sex, 1953).

Fisher, John. “Eve’s Striptease: What’s in a Name?” Mennonite Quarterly Review 77, no. 4 (October, 2003): 579-588. The biblical Eve is considered an archetype for Kasdorf’s creation of personae in her poetry.

Hostetler, Ann Elizabeth, ed. A Capella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2003. Anthology of Mennonite poets contains a short biography of Kasdorf, as well as her poems. The introduction by Hostetler provides valuable information on Mennonites and poets such as Kasdorf.

Kasdorf, Julia. “From the Poetry Editor.” Christianity and Literature 58, no. 4 (Summer, 2009): 573. In her editorial, Kasdorf discusses the broad range of faith-inspired American poetry that has emanated from sources as disparate as Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

_______. “Poet Julia Kasdorf: Straddling Two Worlds with Stories.” Interview by Sheri Hostetler. MENNONOT 4 (February, 1995). Kasdorf discusses the connections between her poetry and her Mennonite upbringing.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Sleeping Preacher. 239, no. 46 (October 19, 1992): 72. Reviewer acknowledges Kasdorf’s unsentimental portraits of the Amish as indicative of an original voice in American poetry but is less impressed by Kasdorf’s free-verse style.

Wright, David. “The Beloved, Ambivalent Community: Mennonite Poets and the Postmodern Church.” Mennonite Quarterly Review 77, no. 4 (October, 2003): 547-548. Examines attitudes held by the larger Mennonite community regarding contemporary Mennonite poets, including Kasdorf.