In Cedar City for the Shakespearean Festival last week I purchased a copy of the SUU literary magazine, “Kolob Canyon Review.” Thumbing through the issue (which contains work by SUU students, faculty and alumni), I couldn’t find any work that used Mormon themes or references, but the names of several of the contributors, together with my assumptions about the student body of SUU, made me think it likely that at least a few of the contributors are Mormon.
Of course, I didn’t have any way of knowing if any of the contributors are Mormon. This is one of the principle difficulties of Mormon literature–knowing when an author is Mormon. It plagues the field, regardless of whether the approach is academic or commercial. I am certain that some Mormon (and LDS) authors who don’t happen to write for the LDS market, or who don’t include obvious Mormon themes in their work, escape the notice of our academics, librarians, booksellers and reviewers. I’m not sure that anyone is even looking for the authors who get missed in any systematic way.
Part of what worries me is that I suspect this problem will only get worse. The LDS population is growing and is getting geographically more diverse. The days when it was possible to track Mormon Authors by simply paying attention to literary efforts in Utah are rapidly disappearing, if they aren’t gone already.
For authors outside of the English-speaking countries of the world, the situation makes it unlikely that they will write or do anything that makes it possible to identify them. It makes little or no sense to write for a Mormon audience in other languages, because there is no way to reach those audiences. And editors at various kinds of publishers and publications are more likely than not to influence writers against including Mormon themes or references in their work, making finding such authors even more difficult.
I don’t know how to find and track Mormon authors at this point, other than monitor the news, Irreantum, AML-list and other online Mormon-related forums. I suppose I could try looking at literary magazines at colleges and universities with large LDS populations (can be identified by presence of and size of Institute programs and student wards), or other groups that are likely to include LDS authors. And I finally got off my duff this evening, and asked on a major Portuguese-language Mormon forum.
What do you suggest? Is there some obvious ways of looking for Mormon authors that I’m missing?