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.
When you first come across what is now called concrete poetry, shape poetry or visual poetry, you might think it is an attempt to be cutesy, or a fad of some kind. In fact this kind of poetry has been created since the 2nd or 3rd century B.C., and was the subject of a movement and manifesto from a group of highly-regarded Brazilian poets in the 1950s.
Among other things, concrete poetry uses the shape and layout of the poem (the typographic arrangement of letters and words) as an element of the poem. In concrete poetry the shape of the poem also conveys meaning.
Knowing all this, I was very pleased to come across an 1835 example of concrete poetry in the Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate.
In a sense, Mormon Literature began 178 years ago this month, with the publication of the Evening and Morning Star.
The murder of Joseph Smith and subsequent emigration of LDS Church members to Utah interrupted efforts to proselyte in most areas outside of the United States. Prior to the martyrdom, the Church had made some additional attempts to proselyte in other languages. Speakers of several other languages had joined the Church, many of whom were an important part of later missionary efforts, such as Dan Jones (Welsh), Peter O. Hansen (Danish), and Daniel Carn (German). Enough German language speakers joined the saints in Nauvoo that a German-speaking congregation was established there. Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Publishing in Foreign Missions”
The first of seven posts, following an introduction posted last week.
Effectively, Mormonism begins with the publication of a book.
The publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830 gave the nascent Church content and direction–content in the form of a tangible object that could be delivered to investigators, and direction in the form of a stated goal to preach the gospel to all the world. Since religious and political tracts were already in widespread use in the U.S. (Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, for example), early members and missionaries knew the power of the written word. Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: The Formative Period”
In January of 1845, Elder Parley P. Pratt published regulations for the official publications of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was worried about the multitude of books and tracts being published by members of the Church, for he wrote: Continue reading “A Short History of Mormon Publishing: Introduction”
Though this post is by it’s very nature heavily self-indulgent, I am going to try to spin it as more altruistic than it is. Continue reading “Looping through the Mormon Arts, from me to me”