Liners notes for Speculations: Oil and Speculations: Wine, which appear in the spring 2012 edition of Dialogue.
“Speculations: Wine” and “Speculations: Oil” appear in the Spring 2012 issue of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. They are companion pieces to “Speculations: Trees,” which was published in Irreantum. Several of the pieces in “Speculations: Oil” come from the same flurry of writing that led to “Speculations: Trees.” When I finished Oil, I decided to submit it to Dialogue. It was accepted. And then it fell through the cracks. Kristine Haglund, the editor, was very apologetic about that when I finally decided to ask about it. But to be honest, I was kind of glad that it had because in the meantime I had come up with some ideas for “Speculations: Wine” and asked if I could finish that and then resubmit the two works together. Kristine agreed. This was in the spring of 2011. Because of Monsters & Mormons, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work on Wine, but then in the fall of 2011, I felt the urge to procrastinate other tasks, and went ahead and wrote most of it. I’m glad I did because just a couple of weeks later, Kristine emailed and asked if I could have things ready for the next issue. I’m lucky she was proactive about it because who knows how long I would have waited around before finishing it and resubmitting. Here’s a tip for my fellow writers: if an editor expresses interest in an unfinished piece, don’t let too much time go by before you finish it.
I really enjoy writing the Speculations series, but I also find it to be the most difficult writing I do because I’m trying balance several different tones (they’re all supposed to be funny and serious and sincere in varying degrees) in each section and across the entire piece. And then I’m also trying to balance each section against the others in the piece. And I’m trying to do that without repeating myself. It was certainly tempting for “Speculations: Wine” to just use some of the same forms/concepts that I used for Trees or Oil. I tried to resist that. Hopefully I succeeded. Continue reading “Liner Notes: Speculations: Oil & Wine”
I hesitated for a few weeks before reading The Island of Bali Is Littered With Prayers (Amazon) by Jeremy Grimshaw (which is now out in paperback). I already knew Jeremy could write, and, in fact, I have tried to recruit him to AMV over the years. I knew that we shared a certain sensibility that could perhaps be described as a interest in melding, or at least co-locating, the core of Mormon praxis with the avant garde, post-whatever, and insistently yet calmly artistic. And I knew that I very much liked the excerpt I had posted at AMV when the limited edition hard bound copy of the book was published late last year by Mormon Artists Group (also see my interview with Jeremy about the book).
But all that somehow fades when faced with the book itself, the slim paperback volume with the vibrant red cover that arrived with a handwritten return address. What if it isn’t good? What if it is good, but I have nothing to say about it? Silly considerations, of course, especially when you get the book for free without committing to a formal review. And once the hesitation slid away, all there was to do was just read the thing. Which I did.
So here’s the deal: The Island of Bali Is Littered With Prayers is a marvelous case study in how to capture in a piece of creative nonfiction a meaningful cross-cultural experience. It’s also a lovely book to read. Continue reading “A review of The Island of Bali Is Littered With Prayers”
I was pleased to receive a copy of Best of Mormonism 2009 (edited by Stephen Carter) by virtue of my Irreantum subscription. That was a nice bonus. I mostly endorse Theric’s review and recommendations. But to be brief and positive:
My Favorite Work: Neil Aitken’s poem “Traveling through the Prairies, I think of My Father’s Voice”
The One I’ve Been Thinking About: Lisa Torcasso Downing’s short story “Clothing Esther”
Prose I Most Admire: there’s some very good writers here, but the one that really got me in the flow of the language is Joshua Foster’s essay “God Damned the Land But Lifted the People; Or, A Redemption in Three Levitations”
Best Use Of Humor: To be honest a bit disappointing overall, but this sentence from Lynda Mackey Wilson’s essay “We Who Owe Everything to a Name” cracked me up — (talking about a book about she received from her agnostic parents called The Origins of Life) “There were dramatic pictures of lightning flashing over moody ammonia seas.” (152)
Favorite Sentences/Lines: I’m going to pick two. From Aitken’s poem — “…Here, the wind sounds the same/ blown from any direction, full of dust, pollen, the deep toll of church bells/ rung for mass, weddings, deaths. …” (1)
And from Lance Larsen’s essay “A Feeling in Your Head” (which is about him as a young boy with an uncle fighting in Vietnam and the fragile hope for his return) — “On winter Sundays, we entered the church for sacrament and sermons in afternoon light, then exited in darkness, as if our praying brought on the gloom, our singing caused it to lick at the chapel windows, our amens led it to press down on the station wagon my father maneuvered through the streets like an elegant hearse.” (115)
Last week Mormon Artists Group announced the availability of a fine edition version of BYU Assistant Professor of Music Jeremy Grimshaw’s The Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers, an account of his trip to the island to study gamelan music and subsequent efforts to start a gamelan orchestra in Utah. I’m pleased to bring you the following excerpt from the book. Tomorrow I’ll post a Q&A with Jeremy.
The fine edition version is limited to 25 copies and costs $125. You can purchase it (and read more about it) at http://mormonartistsgroup.com/ (for some reason the website doesn’t do direct links to its pages — so click on “Works” when the page loads and then The Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers). Other editions of this title may become available in the future. Mormon Artists Group fine editions almost always sell out so if this does interest you and is within your means, act quickly.
From the section on unpacking the gamelan instruments when they arrive in Provo.
When the instruments arrived, I couldn’t help but notice that the unpacking party was a kind of music of its own: a polyphonic chorus of hammering, the groan of boards being forced out of square, nails squealing at the pull of crowbars. The twenty-one crates, some of them as big as refrigerators and all of them sturdy enough to protect their heavy, precious cargo on the nine thousand mile, three month- long journey from Bali, Indonesia, to Provo, Utah, put up quite a fight before giving up their contents. Continue reading “An excerpt from The Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers”
As Tyler points out below, this is technically creative nonfiction. But it’s a story. And it’s short. And it’s by Lance Larsen. And its features the name La Vawn.
Author: Lance Larsen
Publication Info: Brevity 29, January 2009
Submitted by: Tyler Chadwick
Why?: “Though this isn’t technically a short story, it is a very short narrative that shows Larsen’s poetic acuity and that blurs the generic distinctions we like to make. It also speaks to some interesting things about sight and perspective, about how we view the world, and about the wonder of human relationships (as comes through the eyes [pun intended] of childhood).”
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