I’m indulging in some shameless self-promotion, but only because what I’m promoting is a fruit of my work on Fire in the Pasture and speaks to the publication of Mormon literature (especially via collaborative effort) and my continued promotion of Mormon poets, poetries, and poetics.
Yesterday morning via his Mormon Artists Group e-newsletter, Glimpses, Glen Nelson announced the publication of my single-author book. Here’s what he said:
Mormon Artists Group is pleased to announce the publication of Field Notes on Language and Kinshipby Tyler Chadwick artworks by Susan Krueger-Barber
A landmark publication appeared in 2011, an anthology of contemporary Mormon poetry. It was an ambitious undertaking that, it can be argued, is among the most important books on Mormonism to appear in the first years of the century. Unknown to many, even inside the Church, Mormon poets have recently become regular contributors to the leading poetry publications in the country. Their poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, The Iowa Review, The New Republic, Slate, The Southern Review, among many, many others. The award-winning anthology, Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets, presented 82 poets’ new works in its 522 pages.
The editor for Fire in the Pasture was Tyler Chadwick, a young scholar and poet from Idaho. After the publication of the anthology, Mormon Artists Group approached Chadwick to write a book to answer a simple question: Why does poetry matter to you? He responded with Field Notes on Language and Kinship. It is Mormon Artists Group’s 24th project.
The book is a direct response to the works in Fire in the Pasture. Chadwick reacts to them in several ways, as a scholar, memoirist, essayist, and poet. Field Notes on Language and Kinship is published as a two-volume edition. The anthology, Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets, is rebound in hardcover; and Chadwick’s original volume is bound as a companion work, covered with hand-pounded amate barkskin papers from Mexico’s Otomi Indians and brown Japanese Asahi silk. The two are presented in a slipcase. A commercial paperback is also available from Amazon.com.
One of Chadwick’s sources of inspiration is visual art, and Field Notes on Language and Kinship includes eight artworks created especially for this project by Susan Krueger-Barber. Just as Chadwick’s text brings multiple disciplines of literature to bear, Krueger-Barber’s works are multi-disciplinary, mixed media works. Each of them combines photography, painting, and collage (using fragments torn from a copy of Fire in the Pasture). The publication is limited to 25 copies, signed by the artists and numbered.
In her essay “The Ends of America, the Ends of Postmodernism,” critic Rachel Adams argues suggests that twenty-first-century American fiction has been moving in a transnational direction as “a constellation of authors” have resisted “the stylistic and conceptual premises of high postmodernism” by focusing instead on “the intensification of global processes” that have developed over the last half-century (250).[i] Using Karen Tei Yamashita’s excellent novel Tropic of Orange (1997) as a model, she describes this new focus as “American literary globalism,” a kind of post-postmodernism that builds upon certain conventions of postmodernism (like fabulation), yet has an entirely “new set of genealogical, geographic, and temporal referents,” including an interest in the global politics, multiethnic perspectives, geopolitical cleavages and tensions, border crossings, national and transnational relations, economic flows, and polyvocality that characterize contemporary globalized society (see Adams 261-265). For Adams, this literary globalism opens up a “shared perception of community whereby, for better or worse, populations in one part of the world are inevitably affected by events in another” (268). It is the new direction American fiction is headed.
It would be incorrect, of course, to suggest that Mormon novelists have embraced “American literary globalism” as Adams defines it, or even a kind of “Mormon literary globalism” subspecies. While transnational concerns have had a place in Mormon novels since the days of Nephi Anderson, these novels hardly constitute a majority within the still-developing genre. In fact, I think the relatively small number of writers producing Mormon literature today is enough to explain why more novels aren’t being written that address Mormonism from a global or transnational perspective—especially when you consider that most Mormon novelists who are able to find publishers for their work come from the United States and have strong ties to Utah and the Mormon Corridor. As Mormon fiction goes, Nephi Anderson remains the most important immigrant Mormon novelist. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but Mormon poetry, with poets like Alex Caldiero, has fared much better in this respect.)
I feel, as a new LDS fiction writer, like I am on shifting, volatile ground right now. I see LDS publishing companies that are smaller and more independent either shutting down business or struggling to stay afloat, while the bigger publishers slowly consume each other until they become one Frankenstien-like conglomeration; you submit to one, and get rejected by all. I read submission suggestions on the websites of LDS publishers and see that just about everyone is asking for literature that appeals to a wider audience than just LDS people. And this recent interview with Lyle Mortimer, who is in fact the CEO of CFI, my own publishing company, leaves me in a bit of a cold sweat. I guess comparatively, it’s not such a bad thing that my first book has only sold around 1400 copies so far. But it also points to a much more worrisome thing… something that maybe isn’t going to go away at all. more →
I was happy when Wm approached me become a blogger on A Motley Vision. I have lurked on the blog for several years and, for the last few, actually commented. My poetry has been featured on Wilderness Interface Zone and in several of the LDS periodicals. My first novel, Lightning Tree, was published last April (2011) by Cedar Fort. I just signed a contract with them for a second novel, which will likely be released before the end of this year.
A few weeks ago a book by the Brazilian language entrepreneur and LDS Church member Carlos “Wizard” Martins, who started the massive Wizard Language Schools chain (similar to Berlitz), reached the bestseller lists in Brazil. I’m fairly sure that the book Desperte o milionário que há em você (Awake the Millionaire Inside of You) is, I believe, the first by a Brazilian Mormon to reach the bestseller list.
I first heard of his book just before it was launched in April, and I didn’t give it much thought then—I’m not really in the book’s the target audience of those seeking a financial fortune and I suspect I could just as easily get a copy of the book that started this genre, Napoleon Hill’s 1937 self-help classic Think and Grow Rich, to say nothing of the various similar books penned by Mormons here in the U.S. But now that Martins has achieved a Mormon milestone in Brazil, I have to wonder if he is the first Mormon to reach the best seller list with a book not originally written in English?
I’m a baseball fan. I go to games, watch games on TV and even follow what’s happening in the minors a bit. I even follow Mormons in baseball and know how well Mormons are playing this year—ever heard of Mormon Baseball? Yeah, I’m that guy.
So when a friend told me about Ryan Woodward’s Bottom of the 9th, I bought the first episode. And today I finally got around to having a look. And while I generally liked what I saw, the app didn’t grab me and make me desperate for more. But, even though I’m not enthralled, I’d probably give a second episode a shot, if it were available.
In early June, Dayna Patterson launched a new poetry publication called Psaltery & Lyre. It’s housed under the auspices of Doves & Serpents, a group blog that, Dayna told me in an email interaction, “caters to [the] sort of open-minded/misfit Mormon crowd.” In fact, the blog’s byline is “With open minds and Mormon hearts,” a statement that wants to bridge the gap between mind and heart, faith and doubt, although I’m not completely convinced it does that; that, however, is beyond the purview of this post. What matters at the moment is how the relationship Doves & Serpents posits between mind and heart, faith and doubt translates into the cultural work Dayna hopes to accomplish with Psaltery & Lyre. As she comments on the column’s “About” page,
In the words of Canadian poet Anne Simpson, “Poetry dares us to locate the white heat in ourselves, but that isn’t enough: it dares us to translate that searing heat into language that can burn the page” (www.poetryfoundation.org [scroll down]).
In Psaltery & Lyre, we want to publish poetry that burns the page (or the screen). We want poems that push the borders of faith and doubt, sacred and secular. Above all, we seek excellence.
The monotheists of the Old Testament used the psaltery to accompany religious verses (think Psalms). The pagans of ancient Greece played the lyre while singing passionate love lyrics (think Sapphic odes). In Psaltery & Lyre, the sacred and profane share a bed.
So, while the larger blog project of which Psaltery & Lyre is a part is all about boundary pushing, Dayna wants the column to be, as she’s also told me, “just about good poetry. Period. No matter where/who [the poetry] comes from and no matter what [the poetry] is about.” Dayna herself is quite an accomplished poet and her sense of what makes for good poetry seems rooted in her own poetic practice and passion. I trust this means quality verse will take center stage at Psaltery & Lyre.
In my efforts to highlight the emerging faces and spaces of Mormon poetry and to provide a sense of Dayna’s editorial vision for Psaltery & Lyre, I asked her a few questions to which she graciously responded: more →
I came across this video from TED Talks today, and thought I’d pass it on to those who read this. I think Chip Kidd makes some great points about book and book cover design in a quirky way which, if you like it, might even make you laugh. If you concentrate on what he has to say about design (instead of what he says about technology), then there is a lot of good material here.