“God, Forgive My Pen”; or, I’m Sorry I Missed You, Gene

Although I was born and raised a Wasatch Front Latter-day Saint and was baptized early on in the sea of Mormon culture, I didn’t begin to test these deeply ethnic waters until Eugene England’s intellectual specter called me from the comfort of my newly christened craft to join him in the waves. It happened something like this: A number of years ago, shortly after submitting to a growing passion for words, I was surfing our new internet connection, searching for an entrance into Mormon literature when I serendipitously crashed into the Association for Mormon Letter’s website and found myself, moments later, somehow caught in Dialogue‘s current of back issues (an interesting feat since Dialogue isn’t officially connected with the AML).

Impressed that the best place to start something is usually (though not always) the beginning, I linked to “Volume 01, Number 1, Spring 1966,” then to “Contents.” Having embraced Eugene and his piercing insights and rhetoric after finding “Mormon Literature: Progress and Prospects“ on the Mormon Literature Database a few months earlier, I was especially drawn to his short essay, “The Possibility of Dialogue,” and to his poem, “The Firegiver.” Deciding it best to begin at the end this time, I’d linked to the poem, read it, and laughed, first off, at the interplay it illustrates between a curious and gifted child and the all-knowing, merciful, and just Parent, Muse, and Mentor he seeks to please; then at how perfectly his language captured (and still captures) the subtle tugs and pulls of my own nascent intellectual discipleship. Continue reading ““God, Forgive My Pen”; or, I’m Sorry I Missed You, Gene”

Short Story Friday: The Princess of the Pumpkin by Karen Rosenbaum

Digging back in to the archives here for a story from the very early days of Mormon Studies. A teaser: “She sat down, checked over the week’s menus and shopping lists and picked up Moby Dick, which she knew she’d never finish.”

Title: The Princess of the Pumpkin

Author: Karen Rosenbaum

Publication Info: Dialogue, 1967

Submitted by: Theric Jepson

Why?: Theric writes: “.

I was going through my Dialogue DVD and this is the first work of fiction Dialogue ever published. Published in their second year and written by a friend of mine. Who knew? (Wm, do you know Karen? She’s in the Berkeley Ward.)”

Wm replies: I have no idea. My memories of the attending the Berkeley Ward are a bit hazy. It was a rather intense time of my life. My guess is that it’s one of those things where I’d have to see a photo because I suck at learning people’s names.


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Short Story Friday: The Widower by Theric Jepson

Remember how I said that Short Story Friday was going to focus on AMVers for the next few weeks? I meant it. But here’s the thing: we’ve got some excellent short story writers on our team.

Title: The Widower (link is to PDF download)

Author: Eric W. Jepson

Publication Info: Dialogue Wireless, 2007/Dialogue, Summer 2009

Submitted by: Theric Jepson

Why?: “Um, I wrote it?” Yes, he did. I like the part about the second-wife -to-be dressing up as Amelia Bedilia. I’m  a little confused about his kids, though. I’m also jealous because he covers similar ground to what I’m trying to do with my novella, although it’s actually pretty different.


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Who says blogging doesn’t lead to more formal work?

Tyler beat me to the punch, but I’d like to note that the Summer 2009 issue of Dialogue features fiction by AMVers S.P. Bailey and Theric Jepson and a review by Tyler Chadwick. This comes on the heels of the Spring 2009 issue, which features a review by P.G. Karamesines, and will be followed by a little something by me in the Fall 2009 issue.

Add in work by Tyler and me in the Fall 2007/Spring 2008 Irreantum and a fantastic essay by Eric Thompson in the Spring 2007 Irreantum, and the past year has been fairly fruitful for AMV’s bloggers. And there may be more that I have forgotten (pipe up in the comments). Oh, yeah, Theric presented at Sunstone — a paper that was jumpstarted by Tyler and Laura’s Reading Until Dawn project.

This is not to mention that three current or former Times & Seasons bloggers are represented in the Summer 2009 issue of Dialogue, plus Dallas Robbins and Juvenile Instructor’s Heidi Harris. I think it’s becoming more and more clear that for many of the new(ish) voices in Mormon Studies blogging is not the end itself, but rather a way to develop ideas, connections and communities. And today’s best Mormon Studies scholars may just need to be fluent in a wide variety of genres/platforms of expressing their thinking.

Weekend Poetry: At Mountain Meadows

I turned to Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems for this edition of Weekend Poetry in hopes of finding a poem that both spoke to me and was available online. To my surprise, here’s what I ended up selecting:

At Mountain Meadows
for Juanita Brooks

(by R. A. Christmas, Dialogue 4.3, reprinted in both Harvest and A Believing People)

You’ll have to click through to the link above to read it — it was originally published in Dialogue. But here are two phrases that grabbed me from it:

“who cannot stay to sift for those / ungathered pieces of the dead” and “…and the Earth / burns to a glass in which we see / ourselves as we are seen”

I say to my surprise because I wasn’t intending to “go there.” The Mountain Meadows Massacre is a complex topic. And I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this poem as a) a work of aesthetics b) a work of Mormon literature c) a work of ideological attitude and d) a response to Mountain Meadows.

I’m curious about what others think. However, please not to keep things focused on culture and aesthetics. AMV is not the place to discuss history, politics, sociology, etc. Obviously each of those disciplines can inform how one responds to a work of art and especially one that in and of itself refers to all that messiness (it’s dedicated to Juanita Brooks fer crying out loud). But there are a hundred other places to get in to the socio-religio-poli-historical aspects of MMM.

Losing Reviews–the demise of LDSReview.net

I was surprised the other morning to see that LDSReview.net was closing up shop. I can’t claim to have been a regular or detailed reader of the service–to be honest, they didn’t review the kind of books I read. But I thought that they served an important role.

Historically, reviewers have served an important role in book publishing, both to let the public know about books and to serve as a check on quality. But it is also clear that the role of reviewers is changing radically.

As a result, I wonder whether or not we should mourn the loss of LDSReview.net.

Continue reading “Losing Reviews–the demise of LDSReview.net”

Short Story Friday: The Willows by Eileen Kump

There have been some excellent submissions so far to Short Story Friday. But too many of them are from Popcorn Popping and several are rather self-serving. That’s not a bad thing at all and we will get to them, but to kick things off, I decided to dig deep in to Dialogue’s archives. Here’s what I came up with:

Title: The Willows

Author: Eileen Kump

Publication Info: Dialogue v. 8, no. 2 (1973)

Why?: For these words: “If she heard the boulder.” Sorry to be so coy, but really, when the story hit that point all of a sudden it got me good.

Note: If you perfectly center the bottom slider the text should just fit in the window. Otherwise you have to scroll left and right.

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The essential Mormon short story collections

Laura’s excellent post on Benediction got me thinking about Mormon-themed short story collections. Specifically, the relative paucity thereof, but also the fact that even with the few that have been published there are several that I consider the essential starting points (rather than novels) for anyone seeking to understand (or produce work in) the field of Mormon literature.

By essential I don’t mean the most literary or the most Mormon or the most well-known or even the most influential. Rather I mean that if they were to disappear, they would leave the most gaping holes in the field.

Here, then, are my nominations for the essential Mormon-themed short story collections*. Continue reading “The essential Mormon short story collections”