This Month in Mormon Literature, May 2017

It has been two months since my last month in review, and a lot has happened. The AML and Storymakers conferences were held, the upcoming Mormon Arts Center Festival was announced, and the Mormon Lit Blitz stories were announced. Mormon literature, the kind that is actually about Mormons, had a huge boost when By Common Consent announced a new publishing house with a strong literary bent, and the New York-based Mormon Artists Group published its first work of fiction, Luisa Perkins’ Prayers in Bath. Other new novels include Richard Paul Evans’ tale of redemption The Broken Road, Rosalyn Eves’ YA fantasy Blood Rose Rebellion, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s middle grade graphic novel/memoir Real Friends, and The Duke of Bannerman Prep, Katie A. Nelson’s YA reworking of The Great Gatsby. Please send news and announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

Awards and News

The AML Conference was held on April 21-22 at Utah Valley University and Writ & Vision. The AML Awards were presented, Orson Scott Card was presented with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and Susan Elizabeth Howe was presented with a AML Lifetime Achievement Award. Both authors were able to attend the awards ceremony and panel discussions of their works. Phyllis Barber presented the keystone address. A Gofundme fundraiser was held for AML, which raised $2685. One of the uses AML will put the money towards is the restart of our literary journal Irreantum.  A committee of interested volunteers are currently working on how to restart the journal as an online magazine, hopefully before the end of this year. If you are interested in participating in the process, please contact Andrew at mormonlit AT gmail DOT com. Continue Reading →

Thank You for Supporting AML!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this year’s Association for Mormon Letters fundraiser. We were able to raise $2,635, exceeding our goal of $2,000.  Your generous contributions will help us maintain this website and fund future AML conferences and projects soon to be announced.

If you would like to contribute to AML, the GoFundMe campaign is still open and accepting donations!

In Tents #77 The Rhetoric of Baptism Narratives, part 2

Last month we talked about the differences between Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s baptism narratives. Matthew and Luke record a brief sermon from John beginning, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” But they introduce the words differently.

5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan,

6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Matthew 3:5-7

What do we make of the conjunction in verse 7? But typically denotes an exception in English, an exception to what has just been said, but every time I listen to the King James Bible I notice a lot of passages where speakers 400 years after 1611 would use and instead of but. So I wanted to find out what the Greek conjunction connotes. My search for an online version of Strong’s Concordance and a lexicon led me to Bible Study Tools, which has lexicons, translations and commentaries.  (It’s a useful site, but I had to play around with it for about an hour before I could figure out how to find what I wanted. See my comment on last month’s post  for an account of my visit–though an easier way to get to the interlinear Bible is through the Read menu.)

Continue Reading →

Reconciling Fiction and Truth: Phyllis Barber’s Keynote Address at the 2017 AML Conference

RECONCILING FICTION AND TRUTH

by Phyllis Barber

Keynote Address for the Association of Mormon Letters, April 21, 2017, at Writ & Vision,  Provo, Utah

Words are the wings both intellect and imagination fly on. Music, dance, visual arts, crafts of all kinds, all are central to human development and well-being, and no skill is ever useless learning; but to train the mind to take off from immediate reality and return to it with new understanding and new strength, nothing quite equals poem and story. -Ursula K. LeGuin

A note of warning: there will be many questions in this paper. Most are questions I’ve asked myself, but hopefully, some will resonate with you. But be prepared for questions!  The main one that comes to mind when thinking about this paper—“Reconciling Fiction and Truth”—is this:  There are history books galore, more published every day. There are lesson manuals. There are Sunday School discussions every week. Mormons give careful, unremitting attention to Truth with a capital T, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” it seems, discussing scriptures endlessly, but is our culture, and are we, comfortable with the creation of art?

Yes, of course, most of us would say. There’s the Harris Fine Arts Center. The Springville Art Museum. The Church History Museum with its vast collection of Mormon art. And look at LDS Authors on the Internet—our best-selling writers. Most would say the Mormon culture is in good shape, nothing to worry or think about. However, I’m always one to ask questions, chief among them:  (1) What is the role of fiction and truth? and (2) Do we believe that art has value? Continue Reading →

2016 AML Awards

The Association for Mormon Letters Awards were presented at Utah Valley University, April 22, 2017.  In addition to the awards below, Orson Scott Card was presented with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and Susan Elizabeth Howe was presented with the Association for Mormon Letters Lifetime Achievement Award.

Comics

Anthony Holden. Precious Rascals

Precious Rascals by Anthony Holden is a delightful book. Featuring short journal comics about Holden’s life from his time as a newlywed to his firstborn son and each increasingly rambunctious child, the antics in “Precious Rascals” should be familiar to every parent. Church is a small but consistent facet of the Holden household, including rousing renditions of “Book of Mormon Stories.” Holden combines charming artwork spanning a decade, advice about life and cartooning, bonus animations, and, of course, bathroom humor. His comics are a reminder that parenthood, much like childhood, should be full of laughter and play (and waffles).

Other finalists:

Scott Hales. Mormon Shorts, Vol. 1.

Brandon Sanderson (story), Rik Hoskin (script), Julius Gopez (art), and Ross Campbell (colors). White Sand.

Creative Non-Fiction

Patrick Madden. Sublime Physick. University of Nebraska Press.

Mormonism is in many ways dominated by scriptural stories, narratives comprised of, more often than not, personal essays and memoirs, but which become, by virtue of their central importance to the religion, essentialized and canonized. Nephi isn’t often read as he is, an aging man reinterpreting his youthful experiences decades after the fact; he is read as an everyperson, his experiences a template and a touchstone for our own, his version of events the “true” reading of history. In judging this contest of “Mormon letters” and creative nonfiction, therefore, we found ourselves drawn to the pedestrian rather than the political, the mundane rather than the massive, to specific people responding to specific situations where faith figures into the narrative but the choices need not be pointed to as right or wrong or examples of virtuous living or its opposite. While all the finalists provided such stories, the winner and honorable mention did so in ways that made them stick with us, invading our thoughts and conversations for weeks after reading. Continue Reading →

Susan Elizabeth Howe: AML Lifetime Achievement Award

The Association for Mormon Letters presented Susan Elizabeth Howe with the AML Lifetime Achievement Award at the AML Conference on April 22, held at Utah Valley University. Susan attended both the award ceremony and a panel discussion about his career after the award ceremony.

Citation

It is hard to imagine anyone more deserving of AML’s Lifetime Achievement Award than Susan Elizabeth Howe.  After teaching for nearly 30 years, Susan recently retired from BYU.  Thus 2017 affords an excellent occasion for looking back and celebrating her many contributions: as an editor and literary citizen, as a university professor, and as an award-winning writer. Continue Reading →

Orson Scott Card: Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters

The Association for Mormon Letters presented Orson Scott Card with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters two lifetime achievement awards at the AML Conference on April 22, held at Utah Valley University. Orson Scott and Kristine Card attended both the award ceremony and a panel discussion about his career after the award ceremony.

Citation

In celebrating Orson Scott Card’s lifetime of achievement in Mormon letters, the Association for Mormon Letters recognizes what is self-evident truth. In both the range and the success of his work, both as a Mormon writer and as a writer who happens to be Mormon, Scott has few if any peers.

For more than forty years, Scott has explored the possibilities for Mormon-inspired literature across genres, modes, and literary types: from plays to short stories, graphic novels, novels, pageants, and poems; in contemporary realistic fiction and historical fiction as well as the science fiction and fantasy for which he is best known; in stories explicitly by, for, and about Mormons and others where only readers who are “in the know” would ever detect the Mormon elements. Scott has produced work that is thematically Mormon, exploring ideas such as the responsibilities that accompany the potential for human divinity and the necessity for pain, suffering, and evil. He has explored characters and settings from the Mormon past and imagined Mormon futures, from his historical novel Saints—winner of a previous AML award—to his Folk of the Fringe stories, describing what Mormons look like both to others and to ourselves. Continue Reading →

AML Fundraising Campgain

Founded in 1976, the Association for Mormon Letters is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote a rich tradition of creative writing “by, for, and about Mormons.” Each year AML holds an annual conference and awards ceremony to encourage scholarship in Mormon arts, literature, and culture and recognize excellence in the work of Mormon writers and scholars.

While smaller than other Mormon scholarly associations, AML fills a unique niche in Mormon studies with its attention to Mormonism’s long and often rich literary and artistic tradition. No other Mormon scholarly organization is as committed to fostering Mormon literary criticism and academic inquiry into Mormon literary arts. Without the Association for Mormon Letters, the work of many Mormon creative writers would go unrecognized, uninvestigated, and unrewarded.

Operating costs for the Association for Mormon Letters are typically low, but the organization currently has no formal practice for collecting membership dues or fundraising. To continue its support of Mormon letters, AML requires donations to maintain its website and blog and fund its annual conference and awards ceremony.

Please consider making a generous donation to support AML and its ongoing commitment to advancing Mormon arts and letters.

https://www.gofundme.com/mormon-letters-fundraiser

Children’s Lit Corner: The Inevitability of Change

As a young mother, I would sometimes read a little book to my children about a boy and a girl who planted a packet of seeds in some carefully prepared soil. They watered the ground and removed weeds and let the sun shine on the earth. The seeds sprouted and grew and bloomed into beautiful flowers. Eventually the plants produced seeds of their own that the children collected and saved to plant the next year. The book ended with the suggestion that if the reader wanted to know what happened the next year, just read the book again, substituting the seeds the children had collected for the packet they used the first year. The book said that the boy and the girl would have grown older and would eventually grow up. And, said the last sentence in the book, eventually so will you. Continue Reading →

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Orson Scott Card and Susan Elizabeth Howe

The Association for Mormon Letters will present two lifetime achievement awards at the AML Conference on April 22, held at Utah Valley University (CB101A) at 12:45-1:30pm. Orson Scott Card will be presented with the Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters, and Susan Elizabeth Howe will be presented with the Association for Mormon Letters Lifetime Achievement Award. Both authors will be attending the conference in person. Panel discussion about both authors’ careers will also be held in the afternoon after the award ceremony.

Award citations will be read at the conference and published soon thereafter. For now, here are previously written biographies of the two authors. Card’s is adapted from his own Hatrack River website. Howe’s is adapted from a biography published on the Poetry Foundation website.

Orson Scott Card

Best known for his science fiction novels Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, Orson Scott Card has written in many other forms and genres. Beginning with dozens of plays and musical comedies produced in the 1960s and 70s (including many Mormon and scriptural themed plays), Card’s first published fiction appeared in 1977 — the short story “Gert Fram” in the July issue of The Ensign, and the novelet version of “Ender’s Game” in the August issue of Analog. Continue Reading →

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