Science, Art, and Spirit at the Bluff Arts Festival, Part One

On Saturday, November 29, I participated in activities at the Bluff Arts Festival in Bluff, Utah.  This little town of just a few hundred people really knows how to throw a party.  I took my eighteen-year-old son, an aspiring writer, to this celebration of the arts, sciences, and the human spirit, and having him with me deepened my pleasure in the event immensely.  He’s already a part of the unusual Bluff community via his participation in a Shorinji Kempo class held there weekly, but this was his first experience with a writing workshop and open mic reading. Continue reading “Science, Art, and Spirit at the Bluff Arts Festival, Part One”

Sing, O Maysie!

“Most poets can’t read their own writing.”  Leslie Norris said this as we mulled over a reading we’d attended the night before.  He wasn’t speaking just about Mormon poets, though most poets reading at the previous night’s gathering had been Mormon.  He meant poets generally.

His criticism wasn’t an off-handed remark.  He meant it as vital instruction.  Many people who have heard him read can sense that for Leslie, getting words down on paper was only part of the business of writing poetry.  His verse bloomed when he spoke it aloud to an audience.  Or we could say a kind of auditory sun rose in his verse when he performed it.  That is, if we could hear the sun rise, it would sound something like Leslie performing a poem. Continue reading “Sing, O Maysie!”

Dynasty of the Holy Grail; a tome for the daring knight errant

The world today is too big; too full of sheer human inertia. I don’t think any of us can comprehend the magnitude of cultural currents as we drop pebbles just to watch the water ripple. We think ourselves educated, well-read, perhaps a little hungry for exploration but for the most part masters of our own little worlds and the way things are. And every once in a while we are lucky enough to get enough of a peek out of our own paradigms to realize that we don’t know anything. This happens culturally; this happens spiritually. And when it happens, the results are usually exhilarating and terrifying.

As missionaries in Japan, we didn’t meet many Christians. But we met a lot of savvy, educated people. And a lot of them had seen The DaVinci Code. It was an odd development halfway through my mission when casual street contacts evolved from “Oh, you’re Christians! My daughters go to Christian school!” into “Oh, you’re Christians! I know all about Christianity. I watched The DaVinci Code.”

Continue reading “Dynasty of the Holy Grail; a tome for the daring knight errant”

The Importance of Chapbooks

After my post a week ago on the launch of a poetry chapbook, William commented:

Considering what a large role chapbooks play in the larger poetry community, I’m a bit suprised that there haven’t been more published for the Mormon literary market (even as small as it is).[see comment]

In response, I promised this post on Chapbooks and what their role is and can be. Continue reading “The Importance of Chapbooks”

Reading: 1 Nephi 11:21-23

A reading from the Book of Mormon. From Nephi’s vision:

“21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

“22 And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

“23 And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.”

1 Nephi 11:21-23.

Why:

Because it by seeing the birth of Christ that Nephi comes to be able to interpret the meaning of the fruit of the tree.

Because ‘sheddeth’ is a way cool verb to use in inprepreting the imagery of a tree that represents the love of God and the fact he extends it to all of his children.

Because ‘wherefore’ is a great conjunction that should be used more in modern discourse so that it loses its stuffy reputation.

And most of all because the way the angel gently shifts the emphasis from desire to joy. Yes, desire can be a positive word, but the meaning moves from the desire a person has for the fruit to what the fruit offers.

Reading: A selection from Gilead

I can’t resist sharing one more selection from Marilynn Robinson’s Gilead [for previous selections see this Bloggernacle Times column]:

“In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence. Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and acceptable — which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really just allows us to coexist with invioable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us.” (197)

And because I can’t resist the urge to comment: and this is why we need to tell stories, and, more importantly, this is why we need an atonement.

Reading: ‘Advent’ by Clinton F. Larson

this is an audio post - click to play

Source: Clinton F. Larson. “Advent.” Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems. Eds. Eugene England and Dennis Clark. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989. Also appears in Selected Poems of Clinton F. Larson. Ed. David L. Evans. Provo: BYU, 1988.