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.
You can’t buy a lot with forty-six cents these days. Not a soda. Not a pack of gum. Not even Lifesavers from the vending machine. But you want to know what I got for forty-six cents (thank you amazon.com!)? The best book I’ve read in a long time, Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems.
This is one of those books in Mormon letters that everyone references and talks about and now that I own a copy I can see why. Harvest has become a companion of sorts for me. It travels around the house with me and when I have a second–waiting for my kids to finish eating or while I’m brushing my teeth or when I’m supposed to be doing the dishes–I open it up and find the literary equivalent of a gourmet truffle. Each poem has some familiar elements, with rhyme and meter and subject mattter, but at its center the poem, well, it’ll blow your mind.
Harvest includes work from more than sixty poets including legends like and Leslie Norris, contemporary masters like our own Patricia Karamesines, and Carol Lynn Pearson even makes an appearance. There are also plenty of authors the average reader has probably never heard of (especially if you didn’t attend BYU) but will certainly enjoy reading. One of my favorite discoveries is Mary Lythgoe Bradford. I think “Coming Together Apart” has got to be one of the best descriptions of love I’ve come across. And Elouise Bell’s “This Do In Rememberance of Me.” When I read, “How pallid the bread when pale the memory/ . . . Every symbol has two halves/ But to us falls the matching./ What match we, then, in sacramental token?” I wished I could take it to Church with me so I’d remember to ask myself that question.
Harvest was originally published twenty years ago and is probably the most important anthology of modern Mormon/LDS poetry to date. It’s broad enough that it contains something for everyone (and some things individual readers may not care for) and it’s a book you’ll find yourself picking up over and over again because, like a gourmet truffle, one poem is never enough.
So, in honor of National Poetry Month (and since used copies are a steal!) AMV is giving away one copy of Harvest. Just leave a comment about Mormon poetry to enter. Tell us, who’s your favorite? What poems have touched you and stayed with you? What kind of poetry do you want to see more of? We really want to know!
Also, keep your eyes (or your Google Readers) open for our other poetry posts this month. We’ve got some great interviews lined up and some original poems coming your way!