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.


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.


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.


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 →

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 →

2017 Association for Mormon Letters Conference Program

Mark your calendars: the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters Conference will take place on April 21 and 22.

The conference will open in Provo with a keynote address at Writ & Vision from writer Phyllis Barber, the recipient of the 2016 Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for outstanding achievement in Mormon Letters. The conference will then reconvene the next morning at Utah Valley University for a day of scholarly presentations, panel discussions, and literary readings. The winners of the AML Awards will also be announced at a special ceremony at 12:45 pm MST. Among those honored will be two lifetime achievement awards. 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.

The conference and awards ceremony are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!


Association for Mormon Letters Conference

April 21-22, 2017

Utah Valley University

Friday 4/21 Writ & Vision-274 W Center St., Provo, UT
7:00-8:00 PM Keynote:

Phyllis Barber, “Reconciling Art with History”

Saturday 4/22 Utah Valley University-Orem, UT



Room: CB 101A  (Classroom Building)



Panel Discussion:

“Mormon Historical Drama”

Tom Rogers

Melissa Larson

Margaret Young

Eric Samuelson

Moderator: James Goldberg

Room: CB 113

Sarah Reed, “Postmemory and the Lost Generation: Midcentury Mormon Novels”

Jed Woodworth, “When MIA Fought Atheism through Poetry: Orson F. Whitney’s Love and the Light

Joseph Soderborg, “Robert Louis Stevenson: Mormons, Missionaries, and Friends in Utah and the South Pacific”

Room: CB 114


11:30 AM-12:30 PM Lunch


AML Awards Ceremony

Room: CB 101A



Harlow Clark, “The Philosophy of Consolation: A Dialogue Between Boethius and Joseph Smith”

Sherilyn Olsen, “From Active to Activist Mormon: How Writing About My Family’s Adoption Experiences Converted Me to Race Issue Advocacy”

Marilyn Brown, “Raiders, Readers, and Writers of the Last Art: Tackling Historical Fiction”

Room: CB 113


Panel Discussion:

“The Work of Orson Scott Card”

Eric James Stone

Mattathias Westwood

Scott Parkin

Christopher Smith

J. Scott Bronson

Moderator: Andrew Hall

Room: CB 114



Panel Discussion:

“The Work of Susan Elizabeth Howe”

Lance Larsen

Darlene Young

Jeffrey Tucker

Michael Lavers

Moderator: Bert Fuller

Room: CB 113


Julie Nichols, Fiction Reading

Steven L. Peck, Fiction Reading

James Goldberg, Poetry Reading

Room: CB 114




Chris Smith, “Prosperity in the Book of Mormon”

Jordan Shumway, “Abish: A Female Figure of Christ”

Kylie Nielson Turley, “Alma2’s Hell: Ammonihah and a Lake of Fire and Brimstone”

Room: CB 113

Laura Harris Hales, “Title: Creating Safe Literary Space in the 21st Century Mormon Community”

Bert Fuller, “Mormon Poetry in Review: Some Notes on the Last Five Years.”

Sheldon Lawrence, “Mormon Conversion Narratives and the Construction of Certainty”

Room: CB 114


Campus Map and Parking

On Saturday, the conference will be held in the Classroom Building on the northwest end of campus, right next to the Fulton Library on College Drive. On campus maps, the building is marked CB.

When you arrive, please register in room 101A. All sessions will take place either in room 113 or 114. These rooms are right inside the southwest entrance of the building, right next to parking lot L4.

Parking information can be found here and here.

Writ & Vision Map and Parking

On Friday evening, the conference will open at Writ & Vision in Provo with our keynote address from Phyllis Barber. The address is 274 West Center Street, Provo, UT 84601.

Parking is available along Center Street.

Restaurants near UVU

Conference attendees are responsible for their own meals. UVU has a few restaurants on Campus, although not all of them are open on Saturday. Several other restaurants are near campus.

After the conference there will be an informal reception and reading for award winners and conference attendees at the home of James and Nicole Goldberg in American Fork.

Continue Reading →

Association for Mormon Letters 2017 Conference Call for Papers

Writing the Past:

Intersections of Literature and History in Mormon Letters

Utah Valley University

April 22, 2017

Mormons have long made recording and preserving their history a priority. On the day Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ in 1830, he revealed that “there shall be a record kept” in the new church. Almost a year later, John Whitmer became the first person tasked with “writ[ing] and keep[ing] a regular history” of the Mormon people. Since then, Mormons have sought to preserve not only their institutional history, but their cultural and personal histories as well.

Mormon creative writers have likewise sought to engage the Mormon past. Among the earliest works of Mormon fiction, poetry, and drama were texts that retold and memorialized the epic story of the Mormon pioneers and their efforts to establish a foothold in the Intermountain West. In subsequent years, Mormon writers have continued to show interest in their history, producing texts that explore the history of the Latter-day Saint experience across the globe.

These works, while grounded in the events of the past, often offer insight into the present as well, creating multi-layered texts that give insight not only into Mormon understandings of history and memory, but also into the historical moment of the text itself.

For the 2017 Association for Mormon Letters Conference, we invite proposals for papers, panels, and readings that explore the intersections of literature and history in Mormon letters. We will also consider proposals on other subjects that fall within the boundaries of Mormon Letters.

Send proposals to scotthales80@gmail.com by 1 February 2017. Proposals should be no more than 300 words and include the title of the presentation as well as audio-visual needs.

Association for Mormon Letters 2016 Conference RECORDINGS

So, this is something that should have happened a couple months ago. Suffice it to say I have crawled out from under the boulder that fell on me after the AML Conference in March, and I am finally posting the Cisco Webex recordings from the proceedings. The quality isn’t bad. Unfortunately, there are some glitches, mostly man-made, mostly my fault. We were manually stopping and starting the recording between sessions, and there were a few sessions where I started the recording late, and even one or two that I think I missed altogether. My apologies for this. (Also, raise your hand if you hate the sound of your own voice. Am I right?)

But, there is much to enjoy, if you download the Webex player below or just click on the link and add the Webex extension to your browser.

Webex network recording player app
Friday 03/04 session
Keynote speaker 03/04: President Tanner
Saturday 03/05 session
Keynote speakers 03/05: Terryl & Fiona Givens


Let me know if you notice any problems with the links above. Thanks again to everyone who made the conference a memorable and inspiring weekend. It was definitely a highlight for me this year.

Association for Mormon Letters Conference 2016 Schedule

BYUH Campus

Friday, March 4th   (10:00 am-3:30 pm and 6:30 pm-7:00 pm — Registration/info. table open in the Heber J. Grant Building)

10:30 – Welcome/Opening by AML President Joe Plicka – Heber J. Grant Building (HGB) 133

10:45-12:00 – Session 1 – HGB 133


          “Mormon Literature in Japan” – Andrew Hall, Kyushu University, Japan

          “The Mormon Maritime Migration in Meter” – William Brugger, BYU-Idaho

          “Housewifery Literature and Application: A Folklife Project” – Kristi Bell, BYU-Provo Continue Reading →

2016 AML Conference Teleconferencing

**POST SUMMARY: If you want to view/participate in the 2016 AML conference via the internet, send me your email address.**

Well, we are less than a month out, and I continue to add to the program for the 2016 AML Conference in Laie, Hawaii. There will be a wide array of people in attendance, and some good snacks. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Also, we have been able to secure BYU-Hawaii’s help to broadcast the conference via Cisco WebEx technology. This means–or at least, I understand it to mean–that anyone who has an internet connection (and the proper system requirements on their computer) can watch and even participate (with a webcam) in the conference remotely, from the comfort of their own computer terminal.

Screenshot from Cisco WebEx Meetings advertisement. Realistically, it probably won’t look quite this good on your computer. Or will it? A video demo of the technology linked here.

To repeat: Those who would like to view and/or participate in the conference, including the AML awards presentation, remotely may do so.

What I have been told is that anyone who would like to join us online will need to provide an email address in order to be invited by Cisco WebEx to log in to the teleconference. So, I am soliciting emails:

If you would like be able view and/or participate remotely in the 2016 AML conference on March 4th and 5th, please either leave your email address in the comments below, or send it to me at joseph.plicka@byuh.edu.

Right now we are set up to connect up to 24 users to the conference. If we have more interest in that, I believe there is a way for us to add another 24, so please don’t hesitate to sign up, even if you’re not sure how much of the event you’ll actually be able to catch. The more the merrier!

I’m very much looking forward to hosting this event, and meeting some of you in person or via the interwebs, in a few weeks.

A full program to be posted soon.



AML 2016 Conference Registration

AML 2016 Conference Registration Form

Anyone who sent an proposal to me for the upcoming AML Conference in Laie, Hawaii, has been sent this registration form (link above). But I thought I would post it here, just in case there are any stragglers with a sudden desire to book a winter trip to the islands to present or attend!

The program will run from Friday afternoon, March 4, through Saturday evening, March 5 at the new Heber J. Grant building on Brigham Young Unviersity-Hawaii campus. So far, we have about 10-15 presenters, and are planning on a modest contingent of onlookers from the university and community. Keynote speakers include Terryl and Fiona Givens and BYU-Hawaii President John Tanner. Our previous AML President, Margaret Young, will be here. And, and as a fantastic bonus, Andrew Hall will be here to talk about his work with Mormon literature in Japan, and present the 2016 AML Awards.

As a small gathering, last minute additions to the program are not a problem. Email me if you’re interested with any last-minute proposals, questions or concerns: joseph.plicka@byuh.edu. I will be finalizing the schedule in the next couple weeks.

If I was a rich man, I would bring all of you out on my party jet.

More to come.

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