My copy of the new Irreantum arrived yesterday (coincidently, along with my new issue of Dialogue). This issue focuses on “spritual autobiography.” In the introduction, the editor, Laraine Wilkins says, “Of the handful of texts I think of as foundational for Mormonsim, spiritual autobiography is embedded in the very narrative structures and rhetoric that church members use to understand and articulate their own search for truth and connection to the divine.” The issue contains:
A Special Feature titled “Life History Writing: Perspectives,” with contributions by Laura Bush, Boyd Petersen, and Matthew K. Heiss.
Personal Essays by Phyllis Barber, Cristopher Bigelow, Cheryl Pace, Deja Earley, and Kathryn Street Larson.
Poetry by Brent Pace, Malanie Hinton, Amy Jensen, Mark Bennion, Brian Pew, Dixie Partridge, and Steven Peck.
In Departments, offerings include:
Readers Write, short essays on a proposed topic, in this case spiritual autobiography.
“From the Archives”: “The Next Thing I Knew I Was One Of Them,” an assortment of oral conversion stories.
Book Reviews of Just the Way You Are, by Katie Parker; Faraway Child, by Amy Maida Wadsworth; Code Red, by Jennie Hansen; The Gathering, by Greg West; and Grace Notes, by Heidi Hart.
Also included with the journal is a letter from Laraine that makes for pretty compelling reading itself. In it, Laraine remarks upon her discovery of another journal, Image, that seeks ” “¦ to foster “˜a unique forum for the best writing and artwork that is informed by–or grapples with–religious faith.'” Laraine notes parallels between Image’s mission statement and Irreantum’s, but says, “I see the mission of Irreantum as more urgent, more pressing, and more relevant. The animosity I sense in Utah, at least, toward Mormonism, from both within and outside of the culture, is potent.” She wants ” … Irreantum to be an aperture, an outreach arm of the Association For Mormon Letters, with relevance for anyone interested in the intersection of literature and faith as expressed in a unique culture.”
Among other things, Laraine mentions wanting Irreantum’s subscriber list to grow, then makes a plea: “”¦ I work with a wonderfully dedicated and skilled staff. But when I learned that our funds for Irreantum were almost depleted, I started to lose heart. I have considered leaving the publication, as it seemed an impossible task to continue the work of putting together content and managing the production process, in addition to fundraising. That doesn’t even take into account the time I spend at my full-time paying job and taking care of family responsibilities. But after spending a lot of time on the mountain, I’ve decided that Irreantum and its mission are too important to me.
* * *
“To keep going, we need your help. Please consider making a donation to Irreantum. Renew your subscription or AML membership at the three-year-level, offer a gift subscription for the holiday, become a lifetime member of AML. Encourage your local library to suscribe. We are in the process of soliciting private donors and foundation for funding “¦ All of your contriburions go directly toward expenses associated with the journal (we don’t have salaries!).”
She ends with a P.S.: “Your support before the end of the year will help us tremendously and enable us to keep publishing Irreantum.”
Having had my own struggles back in the day as a managing editor trying to keep a literary journal afloat–BYU’s Inscape–Laraine’s plea rings my bells. The work of soliciting funding and material for publication, of editing and typesetting, of figuring layout, paste-up, printing costs and schedules, and of drumming up readership is arduous and (often) frustrating work, no matter how strongly you feel about it.
Last year two Inscape staff members presented papers at the AML conference–something we staffers from another era wouldn’t have dreamed of doing. I discovered that not only has Inscape survived the last two decades but it has become more important as BYU has begun pushing its students to get experience publishing and presenting papers.
Inscape survived; Irreantum deserves to. The more bright and beckoning “apertures” that the burgeoning population of LDS writers have to gain entrance into the wide world of writing and publishing, the better. Please consider extending some form of support for the journal. They are making a special holiday offer of a gift subscription for $12.00, one-third off the regular subscription price. Offer expires Jan. 15th. To suscribe or find out more information write to:
P.O. Box 1315
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1315
UPDATE 12/2/05: Anyone wishing to inquire about gift subscriptions may email: editor at irreantum dot org. To order other subscriptions or to make a donation, go or here.