Agenda and application info for the Everyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class this June

Instructions and agenda for the Everyday Mormon Writer retreat/master class June 27-29, 2013. Deadline to apply is June 1.

Note: James Goldberg asked me to post this information. It’s a very interesting agenda and a low-cost proposition in comparison to other, similar retreats. I highly recommend applying if you can make the travel costs and schedule work. –Wm

Mormon Writers’ Retreat/Master Class Agenda and Application Instructions
 

The Everdyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class will take place at a cabin near Heber, Utah, on June 27-29. There is no charge for tuition and there is space for all participants to sleep in the cabin: the only costs will be travel to Salt Lake City or Utah Valley (we’ll carpool from there) and food (either purchasing your own or contributing to a group fund if you’d like to share meals).

The agenda will be as follows:

Thursday

12 pm:

Carpools leave SLC and Utah Valley”“travel to Heber and get settled

2 pm:

Discussion Session: Audience Baselines

What are the current obstacles between various extant audiences and Mormon Lit? We’ll discuss concerns/stereotypes readers have about Mormon Lit. We’ll talk about what else potential Mormon Lit readers are currently reading and what it gives them. And then we’ll talk about what roles Mormon literature might productively play for readers.

4 pm:

Class Session: The Parable of the Irritated Oyster

Most writing rises out of an underlying desire to reach people in some way. But often, writing instruction ignores the initial layers of processing between the itch to communicate and the concept for a work, focusing on the later stages from concept to publication.

In this session, we’ll generate some sample itches and then brainstorm ways a writer could develop a concept from each itch, trying to name costs and benefits of choices along the way. Continue reading “Agenda and application info for the Everyday Mormon Writer Retreat/Master Class this June”

Report on the Nephi Anderson 2013 SASS Panel

Muscular Anderson
Anderson studies gaining strength and vigor.

In July 1915–nearly one hundred years ago–Nephi Anderson traveled to San Francisco to attend meetings at the International Congress of Genealogy held in connection with the Pan-American and Pacific International Exposition. While there, he also attended the exposition’s Utah Day celebration and spent three days seeing the sights.  Overall, he writes in his journal, he “had a splendid time.”

He was back in San Francisco five years later, vacationing and conducting some Church business. He stayed at mission headquarters on Hayes Street, where he had Thanksgiving dinner, and attended meetings in Berkeley and Oakland.

The house where Anderson stayed during this second visit (1649 Hayes Street) still stands, although it is now the Emmanuel Church of God in Christ rather than an LDS mission headquarters. I had the opportunity to drive past it last weekend when I was in San Francisco to talk about Anderson at the annual meeting for the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies. It’s in a busy neighborhood just north of Golden Gate Park, so I couldn’t find a place to park nearby. I was able to snap two pictures of it, though, before San Francisco’s traffic nudged me along.

Nephi Anderson slept here.

In many ways, Anderson’s history with San Francisco is unremarkable. He was never more than a temporary resident of the city–a vacationer, a passer-through–and what he saw and thought of the city is mostly a matter of conjecture. (As a journal and letter writer, Anderson was an ardent minimalist!) Still, when Sarah Reed, Eric Jepson, and I met last Saturday at the SASS meeting to present papers on his life and work, the fact that he had been to the city and left a brief record of his visit seemed to add to the occasion. As Theric pointed out in his presentation, Anderson’s visits to the city remind us that he was not a provincial writer, holed up behind the mountains of Utah and indifferent to the world beyond Mormonism, but a man who traveled throughout the United States and Europe and became well-acquainted with the important issues and ideas of his day. In fact, it was from this perspective–Anderson as a man of his times–that each of us seemed to approach his work.

Continue reading “Report on the Nephi Anderson 2013 SASS Panel”

Some Reflections on the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference

As I mentioned in my last post, I was a presenter this year at the annual Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference in Provo, Utah. My talk, “The Role of the Novel in Post-Utopian Mormonism,” was scheduled first thing in the morning on the first day of the conference, but it had a decent turnout–despite the room temperature being at near-sauna levels. The other presentations on the panel, which was chaired by Bruce Jorgensen, were David Paxman’s “The Plan of Salvation: Why the Angels Rebelled” and Benjamin Crosby’s “Canonical Kairos: Demystifying the Conditions for Creation of Mormon Scripture.” Both were excellent, and we had an hour-long (or nearly hour-long) discussion following the three presentations. In many ways, I think Ben’s presentation, which drew on Covino’s distinction between generative and arresting magic-rhetoric to talk about the ways discourse works within the Church and on its member, provided a good foundation of ideas to guide the discussion.

Continue reading “Some Reflections on the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities Conference”

Public Uses of Poetry: Two AML Proposals

AML LogoI submitted two proposals for this year’s AML Conference, both poetry-centered, of course. Here they are:

Proposal 1: Live Poetry Anthology: Mormon Poets Read (Two full sessions)

Based on the success of the two poetry reading panels I organized for last year’s AML Conference, I approached my poet friends to see if there was any interest in organizing more readings for this year’s conference. I have around twenty poets* who said, “Heck, yeah! We’d love to read at AML in 2013.” So this proposal is for two (2) sessions (preferably back-to-back sessions) filled with poetry read by a range of Mormon poets. Each session would include approximately ten poets reading for around five to six minutes each. Michael Hicks has called this event format “a live poetry anthology” because it allows space for many poets to voice their poems and shows how the community of poets so involved is a living community whose canon of texts is constantly expanding.

*As of right now, my list of definites includes the following: Alan Mitchell, Alex Caldiero, Amber Ellis, Brian Brown, Doug Talley, Elaine Craig, Elizabeth Pinborough, Jim Richards, Jonathon Penny, Laura Baxter, Laura Stott, Lisa Fillerup, Mark Bennion, Michael Hicks, N. Colwell Snell, Rachel Noorda, Sarah Duffy, Sarah Jenkins, Susan Howe, and Terresa Wellborn.

Proposal 2: Performative Poesis and the (Un)Making of the World

In the days following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, I came across or remembered several texts that were composed in response to this event and to other violent events in contemporary America, including 9/11 and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The first text I encountered was an article published by The Onion, satirical online news rag, the day of the Sandy Hook shooting. The article, “F*** Everything, Nation Reports,” is short–it comes in at only 456 words. But as the title suggests, its language is potent: of the many profanities included, 16 are the f-word. The second text was a poem called “In the Loop“ by Bob Hicok, who explores with the poem a response many people had to the Virginia Tech shooting: to say “how horrible it was, how little / there was to say about how horrible it was.” The third was Alex Caldiero’s “Poetry is Wanted Here!,” a poem dedicated to his friend “Bob Heman, in New York, Oct. 2001 re. 9/11.” And the fourth was a poem by Shane Koyczan: “.” Unlike the other three texts, Koyczan’s poem isn’t a response to a specific event; but it does reference “kids who turned their school into a shooting range,” kids who “play Russian Roulette with guns . . . they found on their playground,” and “airlines [that] plummet from the skies.”

Beyond similarities in subject matter–all reference violent events that have received national, even global, attention–the one thing that connects these texts in my mind is the way each shows how four very different writers turned to words in response to violence as a way to mediate the ongoing effects of violence. These movements toward language in the face of destruction jibe with the understanding I’ve developed as a Latter-day Saint that words are an act of faith and have a profound, creative influence on the world. As noted in the Lectures on Faith, faith works by words; indeed, faith’s mightiest works have been and will be performed with words. These works, of course, include God’s eternal performance as World-Maker (his poesis), which proceeds through his Word, who is Christ. Through personal and scholarly reflections on the texts cited above, this paper explores my LDS-informed view of words and the Word, especially in terms of how we mirror the World-Makers’ creative performance in our own word-making.

(Also posted here.)

Situating Sonosophy: De/Constructing Alex Caldiero’s Poetarium

(Cross-posted here.)

Back in April, I presented some of my recent research on Alex Caldiero’s performance poetics at the annual conference for the Association for Mormon Letters. Since then I’ve been thick in the middle of preparing for, then taking (and passing!), my comprehensive exams for my doctoral degree. Now it’s time to dig into that dissertation, which is on Alex’s work. The presentation I gave at the AML Conference, of which this post is an extension, is a result of my dissertating. It seeks to represent the performance ecology out of which Alex’s poetics has grown and to which it responds.

In order to get the most out of what follows, it’s probably best to view my Prezi presentation in conjunction with my commentary (maybe you can split the screen, with my comments in one window and the Prezi in another? I leave the logistics to you…). I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible by correlating my comments to each stop you’ll make as you move through the Prezi. And after you’ve made your way through it, I hope you’ll leave your comments on my ideas, which are, as all poetics, in process.

With that in mind, here goes:

Continue reading “Situating Sonosophy: De/Constructing Alex Caldiero’s Poetarium”

The annual cost of Mormon literary studies

Wm outlines the costs of engaging in Mormon literary studies.

Kent’s latest reminded me that I have been meaning to do a cost of Mormon literary studies post for some time.

This post assumes three things, which I think are warranted for much of the AMV readership:

  1. You don’t have an academic budget to pay for some of these things.
  2. You actually want to own the works so that you can spend time with them and produce literary criticism/get deep knowledge of the field (which means relying heavily on the local library isn’t an option).
  3. You don’t live within commute distance of the Wasatch Front.

The Minimum:

Irreantum Subscription/AML membership: $25

Dialogue E-Subscription: $25

Every Title That Zarahemla Books Published This Year: $50 (three titles at around $16 each*)

One Major Anthology (likely from Peculiar Pages): $25

One Other Major Mormon-Themed Work: $15

One Major Mormon-Themed Work of Nonfiction (People of Paradox, for example): $20

Subtotal = $140 Continue reading “The annual cost of Mormon literary studies”

Better than Thanksgiving? Anticipating MSH/AML

The program for this year’s Association for Mormon Letters Conference is up. Themed “Liberating Form,” it’s a joint venture with Mormon Scholars in the Humanities (which appears to be a vibrant organization, even if their homebase on the web is a bit drab). MSH is themed on Mormonism and embodiment. And, my, does this family meal have my mouth watering! (Yes, that is the sound of me smacking my lips.)

Here are the courses I’m most anticipating, though I likely won’t be able to engorge myself on them all: Continue reading “Better than Thanksgiving? Anticipating MSH/AML”

Review: LDS Writer’s Market Guide 2010

Mormon Media Market (1981)
Mormon Media Market (1981)

When I was a student at BYU some enterprising student published a hardcover guide titled The Mormon Media Market, which followed the model of the Writer’s Digest annual guide Writer’s Market (now the subject of numerous spin-offs and copy-cat works). I thought at the time that this was a good idea, although it was clear from the content in the book that there wasn’t much of a market.

That has changed in the more than 20 years since that guide was published, and WindRiver Publishing is proving it, with the second (2010) edition of its LDS Writer’s Market Guide – 2010.

Continue reading “Review: LDS Writer’s Market Guide 2010”

Don’t just show up for Terryl Givens (and who is going?)

The annual meeting of the Association for Mormon Letters will take place 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the library at Utah Valley University in Orem. Attendance is free — although if you want to attend the luncheon, it’ll cost you $12 and you should either  R.S.V.P. today if you want to pay at the door or (no deadline given, but I’d imagine the sooner the better so they can get a count to the food service provider).

Terryl Givens will be the keynote speaker. Several people have asked in different venues* what time he is going to speak, perhaps suggesting that there may be a coterie of Givens admires out there who will show up for his keynote and then ditch the rest of the day. Please don’t. I know Saturdays are precious, but it’s always lame when people show up for the main event and then ditch out on the other presenters. Part of the point of a big draw is provide energy to the rest of the day.**

Also: Who is planning on attending? Unsurprisingly, I won’t be there. I promise, though, that if I ever do make it, I will announce it here weeks in advance and that there will be some sort of Grand Tour, and that I will be asking for places to crash and chauffeurs and free meals and all that.

* I’m not accusing any of those who have asked of anything — but the fact of asking raised the suspicion in my mind that some folks might have ditching inclinations.

** My apologies to the AML for this post. They’re a gracious bunch, and I’m sure they’ll welcome everyone — even those who can’t stay. And really, it’s best to ignore a rabble rouser, layabout and blogger like me.

Pillars of Mormon Art

Six Theological Pillars for the Art of God’s People

Now, if that’s not a daunting title, I don’t know what is. It was enough to pique my curiosity, though, and I left work early on Friday, November 7th to attend Vern Swanson’s thusly-named presentation at the Biennial Art, Belief, Meaning Symposium, Picturing the Divine, at the BYU Museum of Art.

Swanson is one of my favorite Mormon Art Curmudgeons, and not a very curmudgeonly one at that. He’s a wacky art guy, yes, but he’s downright jolly. The afternoon presentations were limited to a half hour, and unfortunately so was the culmination of the day – the panel discussion featuring Swanson, painter Brian Kershisnik, painter/professor Bruce Smith and BYU-H religion professor Keith Lane. A test in Chinese class had prevented me from attending Kershisnik’s keynote speech in the morning, and I was anxious to hear more while we had all these fantastic Mormon Art brains together in one room. But the limited time was well-spent, and I was left with all kinds of buzzy little concepts floating around in my brain, not to mention the cramp in my hand from trying to get as much as I could into my little spiral-bound notebook.

While the presentations were all independently interesting, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on them all in one over-arching framework. And Swanson provided such a framework very handily – his presentation focused on what he called the six pillars of Mormon art. I would like to break my comments, interspersed with what the presenters had to say and examples and commentary from the contemporary Mormon art world, into six separate discussions, to be published here – well, let’s be realistic – whenever I get the chance to write them. The first one will appear within the week.

As an introduction, however, here are the six pillars defined by Swanson:

  • The Bible’s injunction against graven images
  • Wisehearted art as “curious workmanship” and “cunning wisdom”
  • The Book of Mormon’s view of art as a sign of arrogance
  • “There is Beauty All Around” – decorative and collaborative art
  • Art as a showpiece – proof of greatness
  • Art as an agent for “softening one’s heart”

I look forward to discussing them with you.