Why Mormon Literature is Vital

Last night poet and author James Goldberg, current president of the Association for Mormon Letters (AML), gave a short but masterful Presidential address as part of the AML’s annual conference. His poetic style and urgent message is quite powerful, despite being just 12 minutes long.

Please watch this and let me know what you think! I hope to post some thoughts during the week.

6 comments for “Why Mormon Literature is Vital

  1. Has anyone ever released an anthology of Mormon Lit? I’ve read the backslider, need to read the giant Joshua. Besides that read a few things in a lit class at Ricks. Might be nice if there was a 1 volume introductory book for the gen pop.

  2. The AML focus this year is on identifying 100 volumes of worthwhile Mormon lit from the recent past back to the beginning — a preliminary canon, although they don’t mean it to be a locked canon. You’ll probably have your wish within the next week or so.

    I don’t know how there could ever be a one-volume introductory book, though, because so many works are full books themselves. Someone might excerpt a scene, or even a whole chapter, of Giant Joshua for such a volume, but it would hardly reflect the sweep of the whole novel. But a list of works, with some description of why they’re worth reading, might suit you, and that’s what will result from this week’s AML conference.

  3. RL, BYU published an anthology years ago titled “A Believing People”. I don’t think it meets what many of us would like, but it does exist.

    I disagree with Ardis, however — because I think there is a lot of interesting short fiction and poetry that might be included.

    In fact, Ardis has published a lot of Mormon short fiction and poetry on her blog, Keepapitchinin, which may be the single best source of such materials. IMO, it is simply incorrect that the best Mormon works are only in novel form and therefore too long for an anthology.

    So, I think a better anthology is possible, and I hope that this week’s list will help put together a list that could be used to construct such an anthology.

  4. An anthology is certainly possible, but it would leave out longer form lit in anything but excerpted form. I don’t think I said — certainly didn’t mean — that the *best* lit is *only* in novel form, only that an anthology of short fiction would not be a fair introduction to the breadth and wealth of Mormon lit.

  5. They are getting out of date, but Eugene England and his friends published a series of anthologies with Signature Books in 1989-1996, collecting poetry, short fiction, and literary criticism. The full text of two of them are available online.
    Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems, edited by Eugene England and Dennis Clark,1989

    Bright Angels and Familiars: Contemporary Mormon Stories
    Eugene England, Editor, 1992

    Tending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature, edited by Eugene England and Lavina Fielding Anderson,1996.

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