Mormon Poetry for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, so in view of our recent conversations about Mormon poetry, I though it might be a good idea to review what Mormon poetry is in print at the moment, and ask those who visit to take a look. [The links are to the Amazon page for the book – no link means that the book isn’t available on Amazon.]

I think we would also love to know of any books that aren’t on the list. I pulled this information from a number of sources, but like any bibliographies of Mormon materials, it is very hard to get everything.

The list is interesting for several reasons:

There are a couple of long-standing Mormon authors on the list (Carol Lynn Pearson and May Swenson), as well as some critically acclaimed poets and new poets.

Overall, the publishers are mostly small presses, but include Mormon publisher Signature Books, and Utah publisher Gibbs-Smith. Interestingly, the list also includes a work from national publisher Persea Books.

I’d love to see what others think of the list, or what you can add to the list.

Poetry in Print:

* Curses for Your Sake by Javen Tanner

* Beginnings & Beyond: An Anthology of Poetry by Carol Lynn Pearson

* In Love Again and Always by Carol Lynn Pearson

* Mapping the Bones of the World by Warren Hatch (I’m not sure if Hatch is Mormon or not)

* Eyes of a Flounder by Laura Hamblin

* Iced at the Ward, Burned at the Stake by Paul Swenson and William Mulder

* Discoveries: Two Centuries of Poems by Mormon Women Edited by Susan Elizabeth Howe & Sheree Maxwell Bench

* Leviathan With a Hook by Kimberly Johnson

* Dear Elizabeth: Five Poems & Three Letters to Elizabeth Bishop by May Swenson

* Missionary’s Night Before Christmas by Sue Carabine

* The Well-Tempered Tantrum by John Talbot

* Erasable Walls by Lance Larsen and Richard Howard

* In All Their Animal Brilliance: Poems by Lance Larsen

* Campfire Verses by Ted C. Hindmarsh

13 thoughts on “Mormon Poetry for National Poetry Month”

  1. Andrew, the quality of your information continues to astound me. In particular, Elik Press appears to be a SLC-based press producing mainly chapbooks — very cool. A good example of what can be done.

    I do have to mention, one quibble, however. “Various Atmospheres” is, unfortunately, out-of-print. I don’t know if you realized it, but the list is only in-print books..

    The Mormon Literature Database includes a list of poetry that is much more extensive, and which I should have mentioned.

    However, it is not complete. It is missing many authors and titles, including an author who’s fascinating 1945 volume of poetry was published by Knopf, and who collaborated with Crawford Gates, but who has been forgotten by basically everyone.

    I hope to have his volume of poetry back in print in a few months.

  2. I took a class on May Swenson in college and have four or five of her collections. The one listed above only has a few poems in it. The biggest collection is Nature: Poems Old and New. My favorite collection is May Out West–I love her poem “Speed” about bugs crashing onto a windshield. I had a collection of her love poems, but, Mormon prude that I am, I had to give it away because of the *really* naked man on the cover. Anyway, all these can be found on Amazon if you search May Swenson.

  3. Oh, it also occurred to me to check out Utah State University Press’s website since they published a lot about May Swenson. They have a bunch of poetry collections available, but I have no way to tell if they are explicitly Mormon or not. One has Holy Ghost in the title . . .Maybe you guys know how to tell?

  4. Thanks for the tip, Laura.

    I’m not sure why you think there is a requirement that the title have Mormon content in it. That is NOT a requirement for me.

    Here are the May Swenson titles in print:

    The Complete Love Poems of May Swenson by May Swenson

    The Centaur by May Swenson

    Nature: Poems Old and New by May Swenson

    May Out West by May Swenson

  5. Not in print yet, but forthcoming this November is my first collection of poetry, “The Lost Country of Sight” which won the 2007 Philip Levine Prize and will be published by Anhinga Press.

    No Amazon link yet — we’re still working on the cover design and other layout.

  6. Darlene, I would also be interested in the same question.

    Its a bit harder to tell, however. And I think it is sometimes a judgement call — for example, is an allusion to Mt. Timpanogos a Mormon reference? What about a reference to Philo Farnsworth, or Mitt Romney? Do such references make a work Mormon?

    But, I suspect in 90% of works it is easy to see whether or not they are LDS in content or theme. Perhaps someone at BYU could spend a few days in the Library, where they are likely to have most of these works, and answer the question for us.

    I’d certainly like to put the answer here.

  7. “His Children” is a photography/poetry book by two LDS women, Anita Schiller (photographs) and Susan Noyes Anderson (poet.) It is a very nice collection of poetry and a beautiful photography book as well.

  8. Thanks for the reference, Dave. I googled Anderson and found her website (, which includes many of the poems from “His Children” and her two other books.

    “His Children” was published by “Vantage Point Press” (I don’t think this is the same as the vanity publisher “Vantage Press” – it seems to be a greeting card publisher). In any case, the book doesn’t appear in and doesn’t appear to have been distributed through normal channels here in the U.S.

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