Shawn Bailey takes third place in Irreantum Fiction Contest

The Association for Mormon Letters has announced the winners of the 2008 Irreantum Fiction Contest and the new Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay Contest. I’m pleased to note that AMV’s own Shawn P. Bailey was awarded third place in the fiction contest for his short story “Outside.” I had the pleasure of reading a draft of “Outside.” It’s a very good story. It’s about a young Jack Mormon who meets a rich, conservative, younger LDS guy who is dying of cancer while working to landscape the grounds of the Bountiful temple before its open house and dedication. It involves an awkward family dinner and more notably a trip to Wendover on the “fun bus.”

Congratulations, Shawn. And with Irreantum seemingly back on schedule hopefully you all will be able to read “Outside” and the other award-winning stories somewhat soon. Continue reading “Shawn Bailey takes third place in Irreantum Fiction Contest”

Stephenie Meyer’s Mormonism and the “erotics of abstinence”

For more on Stephenie Meyer and her work, visit Reading Until Dawn.


The Time Magazine profile of Stephenie Meyer attempts to explain her work — the three Twilight books and an upcoming novel called The Host — by exploring Meyer’s Mormonism, claiming, in fact that although “the characters in Meyer’s books aren’t Mormons, but her beliefs are key to understanding her singular talent.”

It makes for a fascinating, almost convincing piece of analysis. The problem is that it tends to boil Mormonism down to a set of filters, the thou-shalt-nots, that narrow what can happen in her work.

For example in reference to Meyer’s vampire books, Lev Grossman writes:

What makes Meyer’s books so distinctive is that they’re about the erotics of abstinence. Their tension comes from prolonged, superhuman acts of self-restraint. There’s a scene midway through Twilight in which, for the first time, Edward leans in close and sniffs the aroma of Bella’s exposed neck. “Just because I’m resisting the wine doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the bouquet,” he says. “You have a very floral smell, like lavender … or freesia.” He barely touches her, but there’s more sex in that one paragraph than in all the snogging in Harry Potter.

Continue reading “Stephenie Meyer’s Mormonism and the “erotics of abstinence””

Ideas for the field: Poetry chapbooks and PDFs

A reader recently wrote in to LDS Publisher asking, “Is there any hope of selling a poetry collection to any publisher?

The answer, of course, is: No.

LDS Publisher puts it more diplomatically, of course:

The only way you’re going to sell a book of poetry to an LDS publisher is if it’s a gift book, a children’s picture book, or part of an anthology (like Especially for Mormons)–but even those are tough sells.

In my comment, I point out that even though Signature stills publishes about one volume of poetry a year, if you are simply looking to publish Mormon poetry, then Dialogue, Irreantum, Sunstone, Segullah and BYU Studies are really your only options.

This brought to my mind Kent Larsen’s posts on poetry chapbooks — News: Poetry Chapbook from MAG and The Importance of Chapbooks — both are must reads for Mormon poets. Continue reading “Ideas for the field: Poetry chapbooks and PDFs”

Diversity or dilution? The Whitneys and BYU Studies Review

Earlier this summer there were two major developments in the world of Mormon letters. The announcement of the Whitney Awards and the rolling out of BYU Studies’ review site.

I’ve been thinking about them both, especially in relation to the Association for Mormon Letters, and I keep painting my pedestrian mind into a corner. On the one hand, I very much understand and agree with the impetus behind both projects. I have a comparatists general bias towards diversity, towards a variety of attempts at solving (or fostering) certain cultural needs. A multiplicity of ideologies. Competing discourses. All that good stuff. On the other hand, as a PR practitioner, I can’t help but see a lack of strong brands in the world of Mormon arts. I see a cacophony of weak voices. A lack of authoritative discourse. Not that people aren’t trying. But every movement lacks at least one substantial attribute. Continue reading “Diversity or dilution? The Whitneys and BYU Studies Review”

Irreantum Fiction Contest winners

The Association for Mormon Letters has announced the winners of its 2007 Irreantum Fiction Contest. Sadly, it appears the Bloggernacle was shut out this year. Here’s the announcement:

“The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to announce the winners of the seventh annual Irreantum fiction contest. The judges considered 133 entries, and three cash prizes as well as two honorable mentions have been awarded.

“First place ($250): ‘Calling and Election,’ by Jack Harrell of Rexburg, Idaho.

“Second place ($175): ‘Reap in Mercy,’ by Darin Cozzens of Dobson, North Carolina

“Third place ($100): ‘A Stranger to You,’ by Cara Diaconoff of Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Honorable mentions were given to ‘Salt Water,’ by Arianne Cope of Cedar City, Utah; and ‘The Memo Box,’ by Heidi Tighe of Pocatello, Idaho.” Continue reading “Irreantum Fiction Contest winners”

Who entered the Irreantum fiction contest?

I told several people that I wasn’t going to be able to enter this year, but in the end I managed to get in an entry. I didn’t have time to develop any of the projects I had had in mind (unfortunately the best idea came to me on an airplane flight less than a month before the deadline). But I did find the time to dust off a short story I had written several years ago that needed that extra something — and I think got it right this time. I sent mine in two days or so before the deadline.

So. Who else entered? Obviously, you shouldn’t post any details of the project in case any judges happen to read this entry. But I’d love to hear from those entered something and, if you feel so inclined, any comments about the writing process and how early/late you got your entry in.

Also: Results will be announced at the end of August.

Why Mormons should embrace the novella

The novella reached its peak in the latter part of the 19th century. The 20th century saw a serious decline in its fortunes for a whole variety of reasons. It is now the 21st century, and I say it’s high time we bring it back.

I mentioned this idea briefly in my review of “Long After Dark,” and then tried to go find where I had posted on it before. I could have sworn that I wrote something in the early days of AMV or perhaps on the AML-list, but I haven’t found anything and this could be yet another of those blog posts that I wrote notes on, but then never typed up (I often write my posts by hand during my long commutes on public transportation). I can’t find the notes either.

So I’m going to attempt to reconstruct my argument that, considering the current state of Mormon letters, the novella is the perfect literary form for the movement(s). Continue reading “Why Mormons should embrace the novella”

Irreantum fiction contest — deadline is May 31

The Association for Mormon Letters recently sent out the following announcement:

Irreantum magazine is currently accepting manuscripts for its seventh anuual fiction contest. Because Irreantum is a literary journal dedicated to exploring Mormon culture, all contest entries must relate to the Mormon experience in some way. Authors need not be LDS. Any fictional form up to 8,500 words will be considered, including short stories and excerpts from novels.

The first-place author will be awarded $250, second place $175, and third place $100 (unless judges determine that no entries are of sufficient quality to merit qwards). Winners agree to give Irreantum first publication rights.

Deadline: May 31, 2007.

Submission Instructions

Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please email your entry as an MS Word, WordPerfect, or RTF file attachment to

In the subject line, please write “2007 Fiction Contest.” Include your name, the title of your submission, and your contact information, including address and phone number, in the body of the email.

To facilitate blind judging, no identifying information should appear in the story itself other than the title of the manuscript, which should appear as a header on each page.

Winners will be announced August 31, 2007.

The Irreantum Fiction Contest is funded through a grant from the Utah Arts Council.

Announcement: The 2006 Association for Mormon Letters Awards

Mahonri, Shawn, Katherine (William’s sister, head of the AML’s BYU student chapter, and newly appointed AML board member) and I made it to the 2007 AML conference this year, where we attended sessions on Mormon folklore, film, literature, and critical theory, and got to know each other a little better.  It was fun; I look forward to doing it again.  The opportunities to socialize and “network” that conferences like this offer are well worth the price of admission.  Oh, wait.  This year’s AML conference offered free admission.  Well then, it was something of a gift to be able to attend.  And with all the AMV blogger ears and eyes in attendance, it may well be a gift that keeps on giving as over the next week or so we Motley Visionaries report on different sessions and papers that struck our individual fancies. 

During the conference luncheon, Melissa Proffitt of the AML presented several awards.  These awards cover various Mormon-authored or Mormon-themed media published or produced (or in some other way brought to attention) during 2006.  Last spring, A Motley Vision came home with the AML 2005 Award for Criticism; to my knowledge, that was the first time a blog produced a blip on the AML’s radar.  This year that blip got a little bigger.  What this means for blogging’s future remains open for debate.

But now, to satisfy our readers’ curiosity and provide information that we hope people will find at least mildly interesting, here are the 2006 Association for Mormon Letters Awards. Continue reading “Announcement: The 2006 Association for Mormon Letters Awards”