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!

2017

Association for Mormon Letters Conference

April 21-22, 2017

Utah Valley University

Schedule
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
9:30-10:00

AM

Registration

Room: CB 101A  (Classroom Building)

10:00-11:15

AM

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
12:45-1:30

PM

AML Awards Ceremony

Room: CB 101A

1:45-3:00

PM

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

3:15-4:30

PM

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

 

4:45-6:00

PM

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 →

In Tents #76 The Rhetoric of Baptism Narratives

The Friday before I post I usually get a note from Jonathan Langford: “You’re up for Tuesday.” Instead, Friday after work I opened up my email and saw a whole bunch of letters with the ominous subject line “Jonathan Langford.” My phone shows the first few words of each letter below the subject line, so I saw the word heartbroken in Margaret Young’s letter, which confirmed the omen. (I wondered if anyone had told my brother Dennis, then found out from my sister that Dennis was in the hospital after back surgery.) So I’ve been thinking about Jonathan off and on all weekend. On the bus Monday morning I realized I’ve probably also been waiting for someone to say, “April Fools.”

This column was a gift from Jonathan. Continue Reading →

In Memoriam: Jonathan Langford

We are shocked and saddened to hear that our friend Jonathan D. Langford passed away on March 31 at the age of 55, apparently suffering a sudden heart attack. Jonathan has been the coordinator for this blog since 2010, soon after its founding. Jonathan was also an author, editor, and a key leader and participant for many years of the Life, the Universe, and Everything conference, The Leading Edge magazine, and the Association for Mormon Letters. The funeral will be held Saturday, April 8, at the LDS Church at 545 Stageline Rd in Hudson, WI. The viewing will be at 1 pm and the funeral at 2 pm.

Jonathan grew up in western Oregon. His first published work was a poem which appeared in The Children’s Friend when he was 8. He enrolled at Brigham Young University as a 16-year old in 1978, intending to study politics. During the Winter of 1980 he became involved in Quark, a science fiction club at BYU that was less than a year old. From 1981 to 1983 he served a mission in Italy for the LDS Church. “One of the many insights on my mission”, he wrote, “had been the realization that while in Italy, I’d had no problem setting aside my interest in politics—but that everything I saw made me think of art, literature, and culture in general. And so I decided I should follow my love, and go into literature.” Continue Reading →

in verse #75 : free verse, dear love

Turns out Walt Whitman had a greater influence on fin de siècle American poetics than I had supposed.  It was his plain diction that led Pound to largely forgo archaicisms,[i] and led to the plainspeak of the Cantos, insofar as that exists.  Before going into that, however, let me allow John Tytell to place Pound in the context of this time:

As a young man Pound frequently referred to himself as a genius and at this time saw himself as connected to a great chain of poets whose lessons he could master and who could speak through him in his poems.  Much of Pound’s most successful early work was imitative — he had the best ear among poets of his generation and could mimic to perfection.  Of course he had his own taste and his struggle during the early years of his apprenticeship, from 1908 through 1912, was to forge his own voice.[ii]

This period of apprenticeship, as Tytell dates it, stretches from Pound’s publication of A Lume Spento and A Quinzaine for this Yule in 1908 through The Sonnets and Ballate of Guido Cavalcanti and Ripostes in 1912, or about 245 pages of verse.[iii]    We saw the young Pound expressing the feelings Tytell reports in the poem “Histrion” in my December post.  I bring it back here for its value in illustrating Pound’s self-absorption:

No man hath dared to write this thing as yet, Continue Reading →

The Beginning of a Mormon literature in Spanish? Part 2, Mexico, Uruguay, and elsewhere

By Gabriel González Núñez

Part I of this article can be accessed here. In it, some introductory thoughts were presented, and Argentine authors were surveyed.

Besides Argentina, another country where Mormon authors are beginning to publish is Mexico. There are two Mormon authors that I know of in this country. The first goes by the pen name Elisabet Zapiæn, but she also publishes under her real name Elizabeth González Torres. She debuted with a novel in 2012 titled San Rafael (Ulterior Editorial). The novel is about a love triangle against the backdrop of a murder mystery in a town called San Rafael. It has no distinctive Mormon features. Zapiæn has also published three short stories in literary journals, none of which have any Mormon elements.

Another Mexican author is R. de la Lanza. In 2015 he self-published a short story titled “El jerarca” [which can be translated as The Leader], which is a detective story about the murder of a Church employee. In 2016 he published his debut novel Eleusis (published by a group of publishers-in-training under the name Intendencia de las Letras). It tells the story of several generations of Mexican Latter-day Saints, from Mexican-Revolution-era pioneers to modern young single adults in Mexico City. The work is unquestionably of a fine literary quality, and it is definitely a work of Mormon literature. The novel’s portrayal of modern Mexican Mormons as largely a group of hypocrites is likely to be off-putting to some among the more faithful Latter-day Saint readers. De la Lanza has so far written about Mormon topics because, in his own words: “It’s the world I know […] I don’t know anything about drug lords, about other worlds, like the world of labor unions, of large corporations, etc. What I am most familiar with is the world of my brothers and sisters in the Church.” Continue Reading →

The Beginning of a Mormon Literature in Spanish?, Part 1: Introduction and Argentine authors

By Gabriel González Núñez

Gabriel González Núñez was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has lived in several countries, including Ecuador, Belgium, and the United States. His literary blog–which includes short stories, flash chronicles, and translations–can be accessed here. He lives in Brownsville, Texas, where he trains translators and interpreters at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He is happily married and has, as of right now, two children.

Word has it that if you can speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese you can speak to the most members of the LDS Church. This reflects a demographic reality: the overwhelming majority of members of the Church live in the Americas. The most widely spoken language in the so-called New World is Spanish. Naturally, as membership grows in the Americas, the number of Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints continues to grow. To me, this has meant for some time that there have to be Mormons in the Spanish-speaking world who write. And I’ve been trying to figure out who they are. Who we are, I should say, as Spanish is my native language and, I should add, the language of my heart (the two are not always the same).

As I searched, I discovered that indeed, Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints are writing, some as a way to make a living and others because they have something positive to say. For this post, however, I will focus on writers who have published books that are literary in nature. I will survey a number of authors who are LDS and who have published either poetry, plays, short stories, or novels. I also will focus on contemporary writers, as my search did not really extend into past generations. Notice that the emphasis is on Mormon writers and not necessarily Mormon literature. That’s because, as readers will see, we can’t really speak of a Mormon literature in Spanish. Not yet at least. So literature by Mormons will have to do at this point. Even so, when I discuss these writers, I will make sure to point out any Mormon themes in their writing. Continue Reading →

This Month in Mormon Literature, Mid-March 2017

Several conferences are coming up, including the AML Conference on April 22. New books include the third in the “Mormon Image in Literature” series, a collection of essays from Matthew James Babcock, fantasy novels by D. J. Butler, Brian McClellan, Bryce Moore, and Brandon Mull, the latest YA novel from Jeff Zentner, and a series of Thomas F. Rogers’ collected plays. New plays by Morag Shepherd and Eric Samuelsen are being staged soon. I got this out in less than a month in the first time in a while. Please send announcements and corrections to: mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and blogs

The Association for Mormon Letters Conference will be held at Utah Valley University on April 22. The conference schedule will be released soon. A major national author will be among the participants in the conference. Be sure and check out the AML Award finalists in twelve categories.

The schedule for the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference, May 25-27, in Boston, has been released. The theme is “Wisdom”, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Terryl Givens are the keynote speakers. Continue Reading →

Children’s Lit Corner: The Inherent Loneliness of Existence

One day when I was nine or ten years old I was walking to school on a frosty morning. The water in the gutter had frozen into bright silver glass, etched with swirls and crystals. It was so satisfying to step onto those fragile surfaces and feel them crack and hear the delicate chime and tinkle as the ice splintered into glittering shards. Children should be allowed, even encouraged, to walk in the gutter on the way to school. Every step can be an adventure!

This particular morning I was crunching through that delicate lacework when I noticed a white paper, folded into the shape of a note, that had frozen into the ice. I have always, I think, been a treasure hunter, so when I saw the paper I reached down and lifted up the long thin pane of ice it was trapped inside. I dashed the whole thing to the ground and the splinter shivered into a thousand tiny shards, freeing the note. I shook the remaining ice off, grateful that it was still cold enough for the paper to be intact, not turned to mush in cold water. I stuffed the paper into my coat pocket and walked on to school.

On the warmer afternoon walk home, I put my hand in my pocket and found the paper. I took it out and looked at it. It was a note, folded into the kind of origami envelope we all made to pass notes back and forth during class. Do kids still do that now? I hope so! Anyway, my steps slowed and I finally stopped in the middle of the sidewalk as I read the note inside. Continue Reading →

“Stephenie Meyer Is Thinking of President Monson”: Mormon Literature and the Desire for Ideological Clarity

There is a scene in the wonderful Chinese film, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, that has stayed with me for years (click here and start at 4:32). In this scene, the hero—a young Chinese violinist who has been sent to a rural mountain village for “re-education” during the early days of the Cultural Revolution—is about to lose his violin unless he plays something that the village party boss finds acceptable. His friend (also being re-educated) suggests that he play a favorite Mozart sonata, and the boss demands to know the name of the song.  Continue Reading →

2016 AML Awards Finalists #5: Drama, Film, and Video Series

We are excited to announce the 2016 Association for Mormon Letters awards finalists in the Drama, Film, and Video Series categories. Middle Grade Novel, Young Adult NovelPoetry, Short FictionComics, Novel, Picture BooksCreative Non-fiction, and Religious Non-fiction finalists were announced previously. There will also be a Criticism award, but there will not be finalists for that category. The final awards will be announced and presented at the AML Conference at Utah Valley University on April 22. The Smith-Pettit Foundation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters and the AML Lifetime Achievement awards will also be presented there. The finalists and winners are chosen by juries of authors and critics. The finalist announcements include blurbs about each of the books and author biographies, taken from the author and publisher websites.

Drama

The judges for the Drama award considered only the written scripts, not the production, or any music that might have been part of the play.

Matthew Greene. Gregorian. Working Artist Theatre Project, New York City.  August.

Gregorian portrays one family’s journey through the bloodiest century in human history as four generations discover the gravity of a name passed from father to son. The play explores the cyclical effects of genocide on humanity, the consequences of denial, and the essential place these stories hold in our existence. Beginning with the Gregorian family’s own tragic roots in the Armenian Genocide, through the rise of the Nazi Party, across the killing fields of Cambodia, and the continuing crisis in Africa, they do all they can to hold on to heritage, history, and hope. Continue Reading →