I just posted a copy of Irreantum: Magazine of the Association for Mormon Letters, Issue #1, March 1999, in the AML Publications section of this website. Irreantum was AML’s literary journal and news report from 1999 until it ceased production in 2013. We have plans to resurrect the magazine as an on-line literary journal, starting in 2018. In preparation for that, I will be posting many of the old volumes. Elizabeth Beeton scanned in several of the issues, especially from the later years, a few years ago. I recently got my copies out of storage, and I will start scanning in the issues Elizabeth did not have.
Irreantum was a replacement and expansion on the AML Newsletter, which was published from 1977 until its final issue, Vol 22, No. 3 & 4, in December 1998. Chris Bigelow was asked to edit the next issue of the newsletter early in 1999. He expanded the newsletter and renamed it Irreantum. Benson Parkinson, who had created the online discussion group AML-List in 1995, and served as its moderator, came on board as Irreantum‘s co-managing editor, and stayed in that position until Summer 2000. Bigelow served as a managing editor until he stepped down in 2004. Bigelow’s name is not on the first three issues, and he used a pseudonym, “Alexander Hyde,” in the third issue. This was because Bigelow was still working as an editor at The Engisn until 2000, and “they didn’t want us involved in any other publishing without approval, which I didn’t want to try to get.” Chris was the one who came up with the name “Irreantum“. He commented, “I wanted it to be Mormon but also a little bit obscure. Plus, I loved the idea of “many waters” to describe a literary scene. I tried to live up to the name by looking at the full spectrum of Mormon literature, from Deseret Book authors to former Mormons creating literature.”
Assisting Bigelow and Parkinson were the following staff:
Tessa Santiago: News Department
Edgar C. Snow: Essay Department
Harlow Clark: Creative Writing Department
Kent Larsen: LDS Publishing Department
Jana Remy: Book Review Department
Jonathan Langford: AML-List Highlights Department
The first issue begins with AML President John Bennion’s “Presidents Message: New Directions for the AML”, which called for AML to widen its scope, involve itself more with Mormon commercial authors, and professionalize. That was followed by other AML news, including the 1998 AML Awards citations. Creative work included Benson Parkinson’s essay, “The Deseret School and the Mission School”, Edgar Snow’s story “The Mission Home”, and poems by Bessie Soderborg Clark, Marden J. Clark, and Robert M. Hogge. There were book reviews by the late R. W. Rasband, Jeff Needle, Ardis E. Parshall, and Boyd Peterson.
The simple cover, 42 stapled pages, and news-heavy content show that this first issue was a transitionary stage from the earlier newsletter. Interviews with Mormon authors, numerous short stories, critical essays, and reviews came to fill issues with softcover bindings that routinely exceeded 90 pages during Bigelow’s tenure.
Bigelow talked about his time as editor of Irreantum in this A Motley Vision interview, done in 2004, soon after he stepped down from the position. Bigelow also co-founded the Mormon satirical publication The Sugar Beet in 2002, and created his own independent Mormon publishing house, Zarahemla Books in 2006. The AML presented Bigelow with three awards, an award for editing Irreantum in 2003, for publishing in 2009, and a Lifetime Membership in 2012.