Some quick, subjective reactions to the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Irreantum…
Favorite review: “Modern Mormon Family: Angela Hallstrom’s Bound on Earth” by Scott Hales. I find Scott’s writing style quite winning and charming in this review.
Favorite essay*: “Wrestling with God: Invoking Scriptural Mythos and Language in LDS Literary Works” by James Goldberg. His other essay is funnier and more interesting, but this is solid, critical (and critical) work. I haven’t read something that feels like it really moves the field in awhile. This does — both descriptively and prescriptively.
Favorite poem: “Disco Hero” by Liz Chapman. Uniquely Mormon, very funny, and totally approachable. Just what I need from poetry that appears in Mormon journals.
Favorite short story: “Flight” by Courtney Miller Santo. I love that it’s an old couple and how their oldness and their coupleness plays out and how real, yet unique, yet fictional it seems. I enjoyed the background presence of the mommy blogger daughter (although it’s maybe a little too hammered home in the end). The imagery with the hummingbirds somehow feels like it’s adding to the whole mix without screaming allegory. Very nicely done.
*Note that I’m bundling the critical essays and creative nonfiction, which I probably shouldn’t, but I see them as all on the same continuum and so react to them as such.
I’m sure that by now you’ve seen the winners of the which were announced last week. But have you also read Lisa Torcassso Downing’s post about this year’s fictioncontest? It’s very much worth checking out.
AMVer Tyler Chadwick won on honorable mention for his poetry. I hope that means that it will be published in a future issue. Although with only two issues a year and 5 poetry, 5 fiction and 4 essay winners (including honorable mentions), that’s pretty much both issues filled right there. I guess that’s why the publication no longer accepts rolling submissions.
I entered two stories in the contest this year: one was a piece of near future, post-apocalyptic science fiction that takes place in the same world as my 2010 contest entry; the other was a piece of contemporary literary fiction that takes place at an MLA conference in San Francisco. They definitely represent the two major tracks of my current fiction writing interests, and I’m currently wondering which one to go down.
Also last week: Volume 13, No. 1 of Irreantum arrived in the mail. I have yet to read it, but I did flip through it. AMVer Jonathan Langford contributes a review of Doug Thayer’s The Tree House. And several of our favorite commenters, including Scott Hales, Darlene Young, and James Goldberg have can be found in the table of contents. I also found myself looking at the cover and interior illustrations and thinking “huh, that style seems familiar to me.” Sure enough, Monsters & Mormon graphic novel artist Galen Smith contributed the art to this issue. I look forward to digging into it further.
I received a renewal notice with this issue. Printed at the bottom of the notice is — Irreantum featuring the NEW Mormon literature: “thoughtful, provocative, nuanced, articulate”
Another AML news item:
The Association for Mormon Letters is pleased to announce the winners of the
2010 Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay contest. A committee of
judges considered 47 entries and awarded three cash prizes as well as an
Continue reading “Irreantum 2010 Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay Contest Winners”
This is every issue of Irreantum but one (and only in rough chronological order). Plus the last four AML Annuals that were published:
click here for a larger version of the photo
I finally unpacked the box with all my older copies of Irreantum and found a shelf for the entire print run. At some point I’ll put them in strict chronological order and also figure out which one I’m missing and see if I can track down a copy.
This is the third and final entry in this series. The first part of our interview was about Ms Hallstom’s novel-in-stories Bound on Earth. The second was about her editorship of the literary journal Irreantum. This third portion is about the short-story collection, Dispensation: Latter-day Fiction, that she edited for Zarahemla Books (review).
Let’s start with what criteria a story had to meet to even be considered for inclusion. What were the ground rules going in to this anthology? Continue reading “Angela Hallstrom and the Art of Short-Story Arrangement”
A quick look at the Whitney Awards
By now, I’m sure all of AMV’s readers have seen the announcement of this year’s finalists for the Whitney Awards. Congratulations to AMV’s Jonathan Langford for being selected as a finalist in the General Fiction category. He is also eligible for the best novel by a new author award. Full disclosure: I am not a Whitney voter. I believe Theric is. I don’t know if anybody else associated with AMV is. Updated disclosure, 3/21/2010: Rob Wells convinced me to be a Whitney Awards voter. I will be for sure voting in the Speculative Fiction and Historical Fiction categories. It is also quite likely that I will be able to finish reading the novels in the General Fiction category, as well.
I’ve compiled a quick breakdown of who published the finalists. It’s a pretty decent mix, actually: Continue reading “The Whitney Awards, Irreantum submissions and an Angolan artist”
Several months ago Theric asked me to define the radical middle — this term that I and others at AMV have been throwing around. More recently, Association for Mormon Letters President Boyd Petersen invoked the same phrase in his inaugural post on The Dawning of a Brighter Day. I’m hesitant to write manifestos or get in to long drawn out debates over what counts or doesn’t (c.f. the what-counts-as-indie debates of the ’80s and ’90s), but if we’re going to use a label we should be willing to engage it and so I’m going to do just that in three posts over three days: origins, the middle and the radical.
It all starts with Eugene England
As far as I know, the first use of the term radical middle in relation to Mormon narrative art is in Eugene England’s Dialogue essay/review “Danger on the Right! Danger on the Left! The Ethics of Recent Mormon Fiction,” which was published in Fall 1999. Continue reading “The Radical Middle in Mormon Art: Origins”
What are some of the major developments in Mormon literature over the past 20 years? Being under the painfully pleasant necessity of writing a short article (500-1000 words) during the next week on Mormon literature for a forthcoming reference work, this is something I’ve had occasion to ponder. I have an excellent source for up to about 1990 with the articles that were written for the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, but there’s an awful lot that has happened since then.
This is the second in a series. The first part of our interview was about Ms Hallstom’s novel-in-stories Bound on Earth. This is about her editorship of the literary journal Irreantum. The third part, on the short-story collection she mentions below, will appear in A Motley Vision next year.
Describe what you see in submissions. Do you have plenty of work to choose from? Not enough? (You might mention the contest as well, how that plays in.)
We receive more submissions in some genres than others, and I think this has a lot to do with our contests. Over the last three or four years, we’ve received a pretty healthy number of submissions to our fiction contest. Each year we receive between 60-100 submissions, so that leaves us a lot to choose from and allows us to select the best-of-the-best. It’s interesting, though, how the quality of submissions waxes and wanes: some years, we have so many good stories that we wish we could give a cash award to more than first, second, and third place; other years, the committee struggles to come to a consensus on which stories deserve a cash award. Generally speaking, though, there are usually between 12-15 stories each year that are worthy of serious consideration, which is a good number.
The England Essay contest is newer and not as well-known as the fiction contest, but last year we received over 40 submissions, and I was extremely pleased with the quality of essays we received. We could still use a lot more in the way of poetry and would love to see more unsolicited critical essays and reviews.
How much autonomy do you have as editor? Continue reading “Angela Hallstrom and the Art of Short-Story Arrangement”
I wasn’t going to do another round up post so soon, but three big pieces of news broke over the weekend (and in to yesterday — which was still my weekend because me and the family went to the Minnesota State Fair) that deserve a mention:
1. The have been announced. Irreantum co-editor Angela Hallstrom wrote in to the AML-list and said that while winning the contest is no guarantee of publication in Irreantum, most likely most of the winners will see their work featured in the magazine. Of note, for the first time the organizers revealed the number of entries — 71 for the fiction contest and 42 for the personal essay contest.
2. There’s a new edition of Mormon Artist. It includes a fascinating feature article by Iconia blogger (and artist and critic) Menachem Wecker titled “Are scholars and museums ignoring Mormon artists?” Mormon Artist editor Ben Crowder also announced that their fiction contest results and special issue should be available soon and that Mormon Artists is moving from a bi-monthly to quarterly schedule. As we’ve come to expect, this edition of Mormon Artist features great photography and illustration. In general, the Mormon publications have stepped up their game the past few years with their visual appeal — although some could still use better design and graphics.
3. The Mormon Review, a blog/online journal devoted to cultural criticism from a Mormon perspective, launched yesterday with a look at the two versions of Battlestar Galactica by James Bennett. I like that you can download PDF versions of the file. I think it’s weak that discussion on the articles is slotted over to time Times & Seasons. I’m not sure how The Mormon Review is going to carve out its own identity when most of the publicly viewed energy is directed towards T&S. But it’s off to a rollicking start, and it’ll be interesting to see what future articles bring us.