Creativity, Wonder, Haikus, and Visiting Menno Simons’ Hometown: 5 Questions with Brent Manke

Brent Manke is a writer, graphic designer, and careful observer of life, who lives with his wife and three daughters in Steinbach, Manitoba. He writes about creativity, curiosity, design, and wonder on his blog. His project RunHaiku is nothing short of delightful. And, you really should check out Brent’s newest book, Pay Attention

1. What do you hope people will learn from your book, Pay Attention?
I’ve found it’s quite easy these days to live life vicariously through those we admire via our screens, or to dream of a life where the grass is greener. But often our “dream life” is right there in front of us, if we only can pay attention to what’s actually going on around us. Pay Attention is an attempt to inspire people to re-kindle a curiosity about their own seemingly ordinary life.

2. What inspired the RunHaiku project?
RunHaiku began on a whim, mainly as a way to combine my loves of physical activity, the outdoors, and writing. It was also a practical experiment in this “pay attention” idea I’d been considering while writing my book. Most days I don’t have a lot of time to write, but I found I had time to jot down a little haiku each day when I got home from my run.

3. I don’t know, maybe this is an unfair question, but…what’s your favourite RunHaiku? Would you share it here?
It’s funny, I looked back on my collection of haiku recently and realized that each one was a great little snapshot from the day it was written! So each one contains a memory for me, either of the weather, an animal I saw, or those I ran with that particular day. One haiku that summarizes the project is this one:

He ran not for speed
But to connect heart, head, feet
To the sacred ground

4. You’ve been to Menno Simons’ hometown, haven’t you?
I have! Menno Simons was born down the road from my wife’s hometown, in Witmarsum, Friesland, in the Netherlands. Being a persecuted group during Simons’ lifetime, it’s actually quite difficult to find traces of the early Mennonites in that area. But several years ago we found the monument in his honour, located in the country on a small, unassuming farm yard.

5. What’s your favourite hymn?
Great question! Recently a hymn that I’ve been coming back to is This is My Father’s World, written by Maltbie Davenport Babcock. The poetry feels like it was born in observation of creation, and offers the reminder: That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet, which often seems fitting. (The Liturgists did a great arrangement of it:

The Pay Attention Pocket Book Set. (Pen not included, I just put it there so you could have an idea of the size of the books.) A book written by Brent Manke, accompanied by a notebook so you can record your observations! I’m thoroughly charmed by this set. -erin