My recent study on the correspondence of Ina Coolbrith and Joseph F. Smith introduced me to three poems Mormon women wrote to the future prophet while he was on his first mission to the Sandwich Islands (1854-1858). While each poem shares some common themes and sentiments, their quality, style, and content vary in interesting and revealing ways.
The poems come from members of Joseph F. Smith’s family. Eliza R. Snow, Smith’s aunt through her plural marriage to Joseph Smith, wrote the earliest of the poem:
Lines address’d to Elder
Joseph Smith, Missionary to the Sandwich Islands
By Eliza R. Snow.
Joseph, the Lord has blest you
To be in early youth,
A herald of salvation—
A messenger of Truth.
And yet, the load is heavy
For youthful nerves to bear,
Amid the hosts of trials
The sons of Zion share.
Continue reading “Three Poems by Mormon Women to Joseph F. Smith, 1855-1857”
She would be 211 today.
In commemoration, here’s an excerpt from her Personification of Truth, Error, Etc. An Epic Poem in Five Chapters. Which no, I have not read.
Scene: Inquiry sits with his son (by Knowledge), Truth. Or possibly the noble is pair is Inquiry and Knowledge and Truth is still a babe in arms. Anyway, this is the stanza:
One evening twilight, when the noble pair
Were seated side by side, and with sweet smiles
And mutual love, caress’d the cherub child;
Inquiry said, to his fair consort, thus:
“My love, e’er since the birth-day of our own
Angelic Truth, maternal watchfulness,
Like a delightful spell that never seeks
Belief from fond solicitude, has bound
Thee gently to his cradled infancy,
E’en nearer than myself.”
Now that the busyness of Christmas has passed and the final performance in the 2nd Annual #MormonPoetrySlam has posted (see the event archive here), it’s time to determine the winner of the Audience Choice Award. For your consideration and reviewing pleasure, here are the eighteen entries, listed in order of appearance (you may need to hit “Read next page” at the bottom of the Storify to review all of eighteen).
To get straight to voting, click here. Continue reading “Let the 2nd Annual #MormonPoetrySlam Voting Begin!”
Was literature an afterthought for early Mormons? Looking at the first few years of Mormonism, I get the idea that for most church members it was. For the first few years poetry was the only literary work published (except for scripture and perhaps some sermons, although I don’t want to include these as literary for this analysis) and poetry was initially intended for the hymnal. When the first LDS hymnal was published in 1835, that emphasis waned, and even the LDS periodicals published fewer poems. After the initial burst of activity, 1836, 1837 and 1838 weren’t very fertile years for Mormon literature.
Continue reading “Mormon Literature 175 Years Ago — 1837”
This is the third year that I have prepared a bibliography of poetry by Mormons in print for National Poetry Month. Surprisingly, this year we only added titles to the list — nothing went out-of-print. But don’t think that is because all these books are easy to find.
Continue reading “Poetry in Print — April 2010”
The second of seven posts and an introduction. See also Part I, Introduction
The exodus of most of the Mormons in the United States to a part of “Upper California” (now Utah) starting in 1846 interrupted publishing by Mormons throughout that country. Of the Church’s three official publications, the Times and Seasons closed down that year, as did the New York Messenger (successor to the Prophet). This left the LDS Church, under the leadership of Brigham Young, with just one official publication, the Millennial Star, published in Manchester, England.
Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: The English Period”
Tuesday on the NPR program The Takeaway, the question of the day was triggered by the addition of the word Ballardian to dictionaries, referring to the author J. G. Ballard, who died this past weekend. Since they asked “Which authors deserve adjectives?” I thought it might be interesting to ask the question, “Which Mormon Authors deserve adjectives?”
Continue reading “Adjectivizing Mormon Authors”
Last week on the NPR radio program On The Media, in a segment titled “Vanishing Reviews,” I heard a great story from Steve Wasserman, a past editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. It seems that Wasserman had been told by Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes that his ignorance of an early Mexican writer and Saint, Sor Juana de la Cruz, would be, in the Spanish-speaking world, “as if you said the word Shakespeare and got a blank stare.”
So, when Penguin Classics came out with an English translation of the works of Sor Juana de la Cruz, Wasserman decided to feature the author on the front page of the Book Review. But his American-educated superiors at the Times objected saying “Sor Juana who?” Wasserman then carried the mockup of the issue into the executive lunchroom and sat it on the table while he ordered lunch. There, a Mexican-born waiter noticed it, and exclaimed: “Sor Juana!” Wasserman asked, “You know who this is?” “Yes,” the waiter replied, “every school child in Mexico knows Sor Juana de la Cruz.”
Wasserman won the day and the issue was published and gained a flood of reader response. It seems one third of the Times’ audience speaks Spanish as their native language. The responses acclaimed the Times for finally recognizing their culture.
Now, I have a couple of questions about this:
- First, could you substitute a Mormon writer who is as important to Mormons culturally as Sor Juana de la Cruz is to Mexicans? Is there a writer that fits this bill? Or is it just that you don’t know enough about Mormon literature to know if there is one? *(see my note on this at the end of this post)
- Second, If there were such a writer featured in a major book-related publication, would most Mormons even know who the writer is?
Continue reading “What Should Mormons Know About Mormon Culture?”