Five years ago, the Association of Mormon Letters held its first Mormon Lit Blitz. I entered an essay on my complicated relationship with my parents and never got to the next round. I wrote a zombie apocalypse told from the perspective of a Mormon missionary later and had the same results. When I surprised myself and wrote free-verse poetry about my jerk of an ex wanting to be friends again, I made the semi-finals and was ecstatic. Continue Reading →
This month features new recommendations of works long (The Whitney Awards) and short (The Mormon Lit Blitz). A new opera, The Lost Children of Hamelin, by Jamie Erekson, premiers at BYU. And lots of new books. We also mourn the death of author Zachary T. Hill. Please send any corrections or news to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.
News and blog posts
The Whitney Awards were presented on May 7th at the Whitney Award Gala, Provo Marriott Hotel, Provo, Utah. The winners were:
Middle Grade: Jennifer A. Nielsen for A NIGHT DIVIDED
General Young Adult: Martine Leavitt for CALVIN
Speculative Young Adult: Brandon Sanderson for FIREFIGHT
General Fiction: Tara C. Allred for THE OTHER SIDE OF QUIET
Historical: A.L. Sowards for THE RULES IN ROME
Mystery/Suspense: Traci Hunter Abramson for FAILSAFE
Romance: Josi S. Kilpack for LORD FENTON’S FOLLY
Speculative Fiction: Dan Wells for THE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND
Best Novel by a New Author: Valynne E. Maetani for INK AND ASHES
Best Youth Novel: Jennifer A. Nielsen for A NIGHT DIVIDED
Best Novel: Josi S. Kilpack for LORD FENTON’S FOLLY
Outstanding Achievement Award: Tracy and Laura Hickman
Lifetime Achievement Award: Marsha Ward
The Mormon Lit Blitz is going on. “We have twelve stellar pieces this year–short stories, essays, and poems. Some will inspire you. Some will challenge you and your notions of Mormon literature. Some will give you insights even as they make you laugh.” Here is the long list of 20 finalists. Continue Reading →
The Mormon Lit Blitz recently put out its Call for Entries for its fifth annual competition. Katherine Cowley is a writer, mother of three, and a guest editor for the competition. She compares her experience aurora hunting to reading Mormon literature.
You’ve probably heard of storm chasers—people who go out and chase tornadoes, partly to learn about them, and partly for the thrill. I’ve never gone storm chasing, but I have gone aurora hunting.
We’ve been running a [b]racket over on the Mormon Lit Blitz page in which sixteen works face off against each other in an event we’re calling August Insanity. With just five matches to go, here’s how things look:
In the diagram above, the numbers with dashes between them indicate the vote margin by which a given work advanced. The closest match to date was the 8-7 overtime (=after James’s bedtime) victory of Death of a Disco Dancer over Saturday’s Warrior. The largest margin of victory is the 15-point differential between Thinderella Byuck and early favorite The Backslider. (Incidentally, this match is also the reason for the schism between August Insanity and the Reorganized Community of August Insanity, founded to protest the alleged daylight robbery of the cowboy classic).
I had considered providing some bookcaster analysis at this juncture in the tourney, but maybe it will be better to solicit it instead.
What do you think of the tournament so far?
Who’s been robbed? Who’s finally getting the recognition they deserve?
What do you anticipate in our five remaining matches?
August is upon us, and you know what that means–time to fill out your MoLit Brackit:
That’s right. For your local gambling pool or Church auxiliary, we’ve set up a fantasy tournament between sixteen works of Mormon Literature specifically chosen for their cage match potential. Fill out your bracket and post it on Facebook before August 12th and then vote by comment on the Mormon Lit Blitz Facebook group to help choose the winner of each day’s match until one Mormon novel or play emerges triumphant.
A quick preview of the first round: Continue Reading →
Announcement: the deadline for Mormon Lit Blitz submissions (of works under 1,000 words that will speak to language-loving LDS readers) has been extended to April 27th. Any help spreading word about the contest would be greatly appreciated.
Below, I’ve included the text of my recent EMW Editorial post about the contest and detailed submission instructions. Continue Reading →
When I used to teach nights at a local career college, I would begin my Introduction to Literature class by having students read Ernest Hemingway’s “A Very Short Story.” At 633 words, the story was ideal for giving the students a crash course in the basics of literary analysis. We’d read it together as a class, which usually took about five minutes, then spend the next hour talking about things like plot, character, setting, symbolism, and theme. As a teacher, it was always interesting to see how each class received the story, especially the ending, which is rather abrupt and, to be honest, kind of icky. It was also interesting to watch them warm up to the process of analysis. Sometimes, a student or two (or three) would resist “reading into” the story or “picking it apart,” but most were surprised by how much they could pull out of such a short, short story.
The final piece of the Mormon Lit Blitz went live today. Which leaves us a closed set of thirteen short reference points as a way to talk about Mormon Lit.
The question I am most interested in is: what are these pieces doing for their community of readers? In what ways can we safely say Mormons have benefited from these works? Continue Reading →
Moderator Note: Apologies for “stepping” on Kathryn’s day, but we wanted to make sure this announcement got out in a timely fashion. Lots going on in Mormon letters right now!
“We must read, and think, and feel, and pray, and then bring forth our thoughts, and polish and preserve them. This will make literature.”—Orson F. Whitney
Fifty years ago, most schools taught that making literature was a matter of combining great language and universal human values. Since then, millions of readers have decided that context also counts: that it’s nice to get our grand human dilemmas through the lens of very specific cultures with their unique values, traditions, tensions.
From February 15th to February 29th, Mormon Artist magazine will begin hosting the Mormon Lit Blitz, an online literary contest organized by James Goldberg and Scott Hales. We believe that Mormon experience is rich enough to inspire engaging poems, stories, and essays—and are ready to offer thirteen pieces as proof.
The Whitey Awards finalists were named, the LDS Film Festival was held, LTUE is going on now, several plays are ongoing, three new Jane Austen-based novels, and the passing of Paul Swenson. All these Mormon lit news, books, and reviews, it’s killing me. Look how long this is! If you must, please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.
News and blog posts
Journalist, editor, and poet Paul Swenson passed away on February 2, 2012, at the age of 76. He was a journalist at the Deseret News, editor of Utah Holiday magazine in the 1970s and 1980s, and wrote for The Event, the Salt Lake Observer, and the Salt Lake Tribune. He wrote poetry, and Signature Books published his 2003 poetry collection Iced at the Ward, Burned at the Stake. He was the younger brother of May Swenson, one of the leading American poets of the 20th century. Continue Reading →