Let the 2nd Annual #MormonPoetrySlam Voting Begin!

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!”

Wrapping up the #MormonPoetrySlam

In case you haven’t been following the Mormon Poetry Slam at home and have an interest in Mormon poetry (I mean, who doesn’t, right?), here’s an update (which I initially posted here):

The final performance in the slam—which I’ve been hosting on FireinthePasture.org and which as far as I know is the first online competition of its kind—posted last Friday. (You can find the event archive here). Now it’s time to determine the winner of the Audience Choice Award and we need your help with that because, well, the participants need the audience to vote. So, if you would: Take several minutes to consider the slam performances, then vote for your favorite before Wednesday’s end (voting rules are outlined below). For your consideration and reviewing pleasure, here are the fourteen entries, listed in order of appearance: Continue reading “Wrapping up the #MormonPoetrySlam”

The Ballad of the Bedlamites by Laura Craner

Wm says: the Bedlamites contest is over, but the fun continues as we reveal more of the submissions we received — starting with this gem from Laura.

The Ballad of the Bedlamites

by Laura Hilton Craner

The story’s told at family nite near e’ry twenty-fourth of July.

The Miller clan remembers them with ice cream and dried apple pie.

Not impressive like the seagulls or cherished like the lilies,

The Bedlamites are stranger things. Yep, give some folks the willies.

Once everyone is seated, pie and forks in hand,

Grampa LeRoy clears his throat then slowly comes to stand.

Cousins, kids and uncles, aunts and Granny too,

All can the chatter; they know what matters, what LeRoy has got to do.

“It wasn’t all that long ago our ancestors crossed those plains.

They scrimped and saved, they gave their lives, Zion to proclaim.

They loaded up their wagons, leaving cherished things behind.

Our freedoms and our God they trekked out west to find.

“Our pioneer kin was strong of heart; “˜twas with spiritual muscles rippling

They filled their cart with dried apples and Aunt Franny (who was crippling).

Now it ain’t no secret it was hard to walk and walk and walk

But Great-great-granny Bess sure was blessed when Trouble came to knock.

“It’d been more than one week since Great-great-grandpa Gene

Had kicked the bucket, sold the farm–you know what I mean.

They buried him right quick in dusty desert sand.

But all his seven kids were fussin’ yet, fit to beat the band.

“Bess, she shed just two tears then started to drive the wagon

Shoutin’ back to all her kids to quit their lollygaggin’.

The littlest one, Vidalia, just couldn’t stop her wailing.

So Aunt Franny , unbeknownst to Granny, left dried apples trailing.

“What the old bird was thinking no one’s sure at all.

Inspiration or insanity? You can make the call.

She dumped those chunks of has-been fruit completely overboard,

Piece by spongy piece Franny emptied all their hoard.

“Poor, hungry, tired Vidalia stuffed her face but couldn’t eat them all.

Her jaw got sore, her stomach hurt, and she “˜ventually took a fall.

When she woke back up “˜twas nearing dark, her family was nowhere.

She was lost, her cookies tossed, plus she thought she’d heard a bear.

“It was about this time that Bess had noticed her little sweet Vidalia

Was missing ; Oh! you should have heard her gasp and gulp and holla,

“˜Vidalia! Vidalia! Come to me! We can’t lose another!’

She fell to her knees and whispered, “˜It would kill your mother.’

“Again our Bess shed just two tears then got that shoulder to the wheel.

Right then and there she grabbed her kids and forced them all to kneel.

The biggest boy (Bess’ other Gene) was pegged to say the prayer.

He stumbled and he mumbled, then he shouted to the air,

“˜Vidalia is our baby and we do love her tight.

If you give her back to us we’ll always do what’s right!’

His words echoed strangely against the nighttime sky,

And in that moment Dear Aunt Franny knew just what to try.

” “˜The Bedlamites,’ she whispered in her crackling voice.

“˜You Bedlamites! You Bedlamites! We have made our choice!’

Triumphant now, she raised her arms straight above her head.

Then she howled and she growled fit to wake the dead.

“Lil’ Vidalia, all alone, was getting downright worried,

Imagining some crazy beast who’d eat her in a hurry.

And indeed, there was some rustling “˜neath the bits of scrub and sage

But no beady eyes were beaming, no jaws frothing in rage.

“What appeared right then was cute, except for its pig-like nose,

And more of them kept popping up, rows and rows and rows.

Little beasts like monkeys but also like pixies too,

They smiled and beguiled saying, “˜We know what to do!’

” “˜We’re Bedlamites’ they snickered. “˜We’re here to help you out.

We’ve been summoned by a yell; someone gave The Primal Shout.’

Vidalia scrutinized those Bedlamites and was no longer tearful.

She gave them all dried apples (although their teeth she found quite fearful).

“The Bedlamites fingered the apples slowly, sniffing them with piggy noses.

“˜What is this new thing?’ they muttered and squished them with their toeses.

“˜You eat it,’ Vidalia prompted. The creatures took small bites.

Then sloshed and mashed , and noshed and gnashed, their eyes becoming bright.

“Aunt Franny, miles away, said, “˜Bedlamites, you Bedlamites, I know that you are greedy.

“˜Bring Vidalia back to us. We’ll make sure your stomachs’re never needy.’

At once the Bedlamites stood up and smooshed themselves together

Making a bigger creature that lifted Vidalia like a feather.

The Bedlamites chanted as they carried her through the night,

Their spindly legs and hairy chests hurtling with otherworldly might,

“˜The Bedlamites are running, running up to the old wagon floor.

“˜The Bedlamites are running, running , hung’ring for some more!’

“Before an hour was past Vidalia was with her mother.

The whole family rejoiced, each sister and each brother.

They covered her with kisses, not noticing the creatures

Who’d brought her back or their clever, cunning features.

“The Bedlamites scrambled up to Franny and prodded her ungently,

Rummaging through her bedding disturbingly intently.

“˜More,’ they murmured. “˜More and more. We do want some more.

“˜It’s time’ they twittered and they skittered “˜ to even up the score.’

“Aunt Franny, herself now scared, began to turn the barrels over,

And when they came up empty she got real sober.

“˜Bedlamites, um, Bedlamites, “˜ she stammered as they sneered

“˜Unfortunately, it would seem, um, your payment isn’t here.’

“They turned on her with teeth like daggers in the night

They jumped. She screamed. They covered her, completely out sight.

Now Bess and all her kids, each and every one,

Hurried to the wagon, their tender spirits flaggin’, to see what Fran had done.

“Instead of Franny’s funny face they saw instead a melee,

A million beasts and their crippled aunt were going at it freely.

This time it was Vidalia who shed just two tears.

She told them all to stop it and grabbed “˜em by the ears.

” “˜What do you think you’re doing to my dear Aunt Franny?’

The Bedlamites were still, their faces strange–uncanny–

As Bess stood up and with arms straight above her head,

She growled and she howled, fit to wake the dead.

“The Bedlamites shimmered and began to disappear.

Looking quite surprised, Franny let out a cheer.

The Bedlamites said one last thing before they snuffed right out,

“˜You haven’t gotten rid of us, even with that Primal Shout.’

“Bess did sigh and looked at Franny. “˜They’ll be back, you know.

I guess we’ll just have to reap whatever you did sow.'”

But Bess and Franny never saw another Bedlamite.

Not hide nor hair showed anywhere; it never seemed quite right.”

At this LeRoy sips some water and looks around the room,

The glinting in his eye a sure harbinger of doom.

“Those Bedlamites have not forgotten that we owe them one.

They don’t care how long it’s been. Their story isn’t done.

“Sometimes on Family Nights, when you moms and dads get lazy

Those Bedlamites, they infiltrate making little ones act crazy.

They climb all over furniture and refuse to say the prayer.

They kick with glee, they sing off-key–oh! it’s hard to bear.

“It isn’t until treat time that they sit themselves right down.

Their piggy noses sniffing, rooting all around,

For something sweet and puffy like Vidalia gave them,

Something that is yummy will stop their misbehavin’.

“How long those Bedlamites will keep returning no one can right say.

They’ll make mischief when they can, all along our way.

Yes, those Bedlamites are running, running for our door.

Those Bedlamites are coming, always hung’ring for some more.”

At this the family all stands up with arms above their heads–

The pie is gone, the story’s done, and they’re ready for their beds–

But before they go and say goodnight there’s one last thing to do

It starts like a howl, then grows to a growl, and ends in a great “Wahoo!”

The family gives the Primal Shout and dissolves into great laughter.

Looking just like Bedlamites, it’s what LeRoy was after.

Hugs and kisses all around and then it is, “Sleep tight.

Love you all and don’t forget to always choose what’s right.”

This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Ellis (a review and interview)

“Imagine if you had witnessed something horrific. Imagine if it had happened to your friend. And imagine if you hadn’t done anything to help.”

The world of LDS literature is rife with can only be termed “issue novels”. Whether they are out to take on drug abuse, polygamy, suicide, racism, or even date rape, issue novels pick a socially difficult topic and discuss it. The aim of these novels seems to be to bring awareness to an issue and to help those dealing with it do so in a faithful manner. Some of these novels turn out distastefully didactic. Others, however, open our minds to new points of view and provide much needed catharsis. This is What I Did: by LDS novelist, Ann Dee Ellis, is one of the good ones. Continue reading “This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Ellis (a review and interview)”

AMV welcomes Harlow, Katherine, Laura and Tyler

I’m pleased to announce that Tyler Chadwick, Harlow Clark, Laura Craner and Katherine Morris are joining A Motley Vision. I can’t think of a better way to cap off what has been a great summer for AMV, filled with great posts, excellent discussion and an increase in readers and active commenters. Thanks, everybody. I personally have felt a renewed sense of energy and commitment to the blog, and it’s all your fault.

We’ll have full bio pages up on our Contributors page soon. But in brief:

Tyler is a poet and blogger at Chasing the Long White Cloud and a doctoral student at Idaho State (or will be in just a week or two).

Laura has guest posted at AMV and blogs at LDS Readers and at Depressed (but not unhappy) Mormon Mommy.

Katherine is the founder of the student chapter of the AML and was one of the more active bloggers at Mormon Rennaissance. She recently graduated from BYU and has a particular interest in Mormon culture and linguistics. She is also my sister.

Harlow is one of the gems of the Mormon literature scene. He’s been publishing on the AML list and presenting at the AML annual meeting for a long time. His work often mixes literary criticism, personal essay and storytelling and is filled with word play (including many puns), allusions and quotations.

The AMV team is delighted by these additions. It’s a little hard for me to believe it, but what started out as a solo blog back in June 2004 has grown to 11 co-bloggers (and 1 emeritus blogger).

If you are a friend or family member or frequent commenter or AML Lister or Mormon arts colleague of any of us and are wondering why you weren’t invited to blog at AMV, it’s not because we don’t love and value you. It could be that we didn’t want to distract you from what you were already doing. Or thought you wouldn’t be interested. Or we are already well stocked up in your area of expertise. If you really, really want to join us or would be interested in guest posting, e-mail admin AT motleyvision DOT org.

Other Changes

Along with adding to our team, we’re making a few changes to AMV itself. Key navigation has been moved to the top nav bar. Our Contributors page has been reorganized to include links to both bios and posts for each blogger. The Comments Policy page has been updated. And the Contact Us page now has more information about submitting works for review, guests posts and story/event pitches. I’ve also switched to URLs that include keywords from the post title to make them more search engine (and people) friendly. However, all previous post URLs will automatically redirect to the proper post so if you’ve linked to us in the past — thank you, and you don’t need to update those links.

In addition, I have ditched the recent links section. I’m not happy with its functionality and am looking for other solutions to highlight interesting and valuable work elsewhere — especially a solution that will make it very easy for all of us co-bloggers to post links. Suggestions are welcome.

Finally, although this is mainly an internal thing, I’ve broken the bloggers up in to teams by art form. All of us will still be able to post on anything we want that falls under the heading of Mormon arts and culture, but I’m hoping that the teams approach will distribute the administrative tasks a bit, and more importantly will indicate where we need to grow further. Literature — fiction, poetry, personal essay — will probably always dominate here at AMV (and indeed is by far our largest team right now), but I think that we need to become better at covering Cinema, Theater and Visual Arts. In addition, to those four art forms, Kent and I will continue to cover the Publishing (and Marketing) of Mormon cultural products. If you are curious about who has been assigned to what team, see the Contributors page.

For those who have a specific interest in any of those categories, I’ve created special pages that list the latest blog posts on those topics. See the top section of the right nav bar.

I hope these additions and changes will give you all the more reason to drop by AMV. Or subscribe to our RSS feed. Or our Twitter feed. Or our posts by e-mail service.

And all of this is just phase one. Stay tuned.