Tag Archives: AML Conference

The Makar, Making, and Mormonism: Tyler’s 2014 AML Conference Proposal

3.11.14 | | 3 comments
Muta Poesis

Muta Poesis, from Le vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti moderni by Giovanni Bellori (Rome, 1672)

Each year, my wife and I look forward to making a pilgrimage to Orem, Utah to attend the annual Association for Mormon Letters Conference. I’ve also made it an annual practice to share my conference proposal once I’ve submitted it. In 2012, I proposed and presented “Situating Sonosophy: De/constructing Alex Caldiero’s ‘Poetarium’” and in 2013 I proposed “Performative Poesis and the (Un)Making of the World,” although my presentation was eventually titled “The Tongue as Tree of Life: Meditations on Words and the Word and the Making of the World.”

This year the conference, which will be held April 11-12 at UVU, is titled “New Faces of Mormonism: Are We Changing the Way We See Ourselves?” (*) Yesterday I submitted the following proposal, which is relevant to the Church’s recently released statement on what it means to become like God:

Alex Caldiero’s Performative Poesis: The Makar, Making, and Mormonism

Alex Caldiero’s work emerges from a rich performance ecology that consists of many different influences. One of these is the figure of the pre-modern bard, whom Caldiero calls a makar (mah-ker). Makar is the Middle English antecedent of maker, although makar is still active in the Scots language where it’s used in reference to a poet or bard [see here, especially]. Caldiero may have assumed the title in an attempt to establish kinship with a primitive (prime-itive) culture, its language, and its poetics. He may have also taken the name to skirt around the social and cultural limitations related to calling oneself a poet, including the stigma attached to practicing an art that some say is dead and that others associate with greeting card sentimentalism or the horrors of high school English. By moving to avoid these limitations (albeit at the cost of having to endure others [like being what Scott Carrier calls a "categorical conundrum"]), Caldiero becomes better able to critique common conceptions of poetry while he at the same time foregrounds the term’s origins: the word poetry derives from the Greek concept of poesis, which signifies the process of making.

Caldiero’s self-affiliation with Mormonism brings an additional level of signification to his focus on making. In particular, his poetics seem to be in conversation with Mormon theology’s teachings about Deity; these include the following:

  • First, that the Gods are Makers: they create and they procreate.
  • Second, that God isn’t a singular Entity acting as lone Creator but is part of a coterie of creative Beings acting in concert, a Community of Gods.
  • Third, that the Makers have created and peopled not just this world, this universe, but many worlds and many universes.
  • Fourth, that Creation doesn’t occur ex nihilo: rather the Makers build things from materials extant in expansive cosmos.
  • Fifth, that Creation unfolds in an eternal round: the Makers’ creative acts occur in the present progressive tense, that these Beings haven’t just created, they are creating.
  • Sixth, that humans are the Makers’ offspring; as such we have the making gene in us and by virtue of heredity and training, we can emulate our Parents and become Makers ourselves.

My paper will explore the relationships among Caldiero’s performative poesis (which he calls sonosophy) and the figures/ideas I’ve described above: the makar (the pre-modern bard), poetry as the process of making, and Gods as Makers.

(Cross-posted here.)

Public Uses of Poetry: Two AML Proposals

2.22.13 | | 2 comments

AML LogoI submitted two proposals for this year’s AML Conference, both poetry-centered, of course. Here they are:

Proposal 1: Live Poetry Anthology: Mormon Poets Read (Two full sessions)

Based on the success of the two poetry reading panels I organized for last year’s AML Conference, I approached my poet friends to see if there was any interest in organizing more readings for this year’s conference. I have around twenty poets* who said, “Heck, yeah! We’d love to read at AML in 2013.” So this proposal is for two (2) sessions (preferably back-to-back sessions) filled with poetry read by a range of Mormon poets. Each session would include approximately ten poets reading for around five to six minutes each. Michael Hicks has called this event format “a live poetry anthology” because it allows space for many poets to voice their poems and shows how the community of poets so involved is a living community whose canon of texts is constantly expanding.

*As of right now, my list of definites includes the following: Alan Mitchell, Alex Caldiero, Amber Ellis, Brian Brown, Doug Talley, Elaine Craig, Elizabeth Pinborough, Jim Richards, Jonathon Penny, Laura Baxter, Laura Stott, Lisa Fillerup, Mark Bennion, Michael Hicks, N. Colwell Snell, Rachel Noorda, Sarah Duffy, Sarah Jenkins, Susan Howe, and Terresa Wellborn.

Proposal 2: Performative Poesis and the (Un)Making of the World

In the days following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, I came across or remembered several texts that were composed in response to this event and to other violent events in contemporary America, including 9/11 and the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The first text I encountered was an article published by The Onion, satirical online news rag, the day of the Sandy Hook shooting. The article, “F*** Everything, Nation Reports,” is short—it comes in at only 456 words. But as the title suggests, its language is potent: of the many profanities included, 16 are the f-word. The second text was a poem called “In the Loop” by Bob Hicok, who explores with the poem a response many people had to the Virginia Tech shooting: to say “how horrible it was, how little / there was to say about how horrible it was.” The third was Alex Caldiero’s “Poetry is Wanted Here!,” a poem dedicated to his friend “Bob Heman, in New York, Oct. 2001 re. 9/11.” And the fourth was a poem by Shane Koyczan: “People are Getting Better.” Unlike the other three texts, Koyczan’s poem isn’t a response to a specific event; but it does reference “kids who turned their school into a shooting range,” kids who “play Russian Roulette with guns . . . they found on their playground,” and “airlines [that] plummet from the skies.”

Beyond similarities in subject matter—all reference violent events that have received national, even global, attention—the one thing that connects these texts in my mind is the way each shows how four very different writers turned to words in response to violence as a way to mediate the ongoing effects of violence. These movements toward language in the face of destruction jibe with the understanding I’ve developed as a Latter-day Saint that words are an act of faith and have a profound, creative influence on the world. As noted in the Lectures on Faith, faith works by words; indeed, faith’s mightiest works have been and will be performed with words. These works, of course, include God’s eternal performance as World-Maker (his poesis), which proceeds through his Word, who is Christ. Through personal and scholarly reflections on the texts cited above, this paper explores my LDS-informed view of words and the Word, especially in terms of how we mirror the World-Makers’ creative performance in our own word-making.

(Also posted here.)

Situating Sonosophy: De/Constructing Alex Caldiero’s Poetarium

6.19.12 | | 13 comments

(Cross-posted here.)

Back in April, I presented some of my recent research on Alex Caldiero’s performance poetics at the annual conference for the Association for Mormon Letters. Since then I’ve been thick in the middle of preparing for, then taking (and passing!), my comprehensive exams for my doctoral degree. Now it’s time to dig into that dissertation, which is on Alex’s work. The presentation I gave at the AML Conference, of which this post is an extension, is a result of my dissertating. It seeks to represent the performance ecology out of which Alex’s poetics has grown and to which it responds.

In order to get the most out of what follows, it’s probably best to view my Prezi presentation in conjunction with my commentary (maybe you can split the screen, with my comments in one window and the Prezi in another? I leave the logistics to you…). I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible by correlating my comments to each stop you’ll make as you move through the Prezi. And after you’ve made your way through it, I hope you’ll leave your comments on my ideas, which are, as all poetics, in process.

With that in mind, here goes:

more

Interview with Joy Buhler on Mormon literature

6.7.12 | | 12 comments

When I heard that Joy Buhler was going to present on the great LDS novel at the AML annual meeting this year, I made a note to hit her up for an AMV interview. Mainly because I knew that I wouldn’t be there and so wouldn’t get to hear what she had to say. So I tracked down her email and requested an interview.

Originally from Vernal, Utah, Joy graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. in Political Science (and a minor in Spanish). She holds an MPA from George Mason University and has lived in Washington D.C. for ten years, where she currently works in HR Policy at the Department of the Interior. She blogs at Sherpa’s Wonderin’s.

What made you decide to tackle the topic of the “Great LDS Novel” for the AML Conference?

I wrote about Jerry Johnston’s column when it came out in 2009. When I read that AML was looking for papers for their annual conference, a paper on Mr. Johnston’s column seemed like a natural fit.  The paper is my introduction to LDS literature and the core concept of the paper, doubt, is fascinating to me from the LDS perspective. more

Situating Sonosophy: Tyler’s AML Conference Proposal

12.20.11 | | 5 comments

I just submitted this proposal for next year’s AML Conference. The theme: ”Going Forth Into All the World: Mormon Literature in an International Church.” I hope it tastes international enough for the organizers’ palate.

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“Situating Sonosophy: De/constructing Alex Caldiero’s ‘Poetarium.’”

Contemporary Utah poet Alex Caldiero‘s performative mode of poetry and poetics, which he calls sonosophy, critiques conventional notions of epistemology, ethnography, language, pedagogy, performance, and poetry. It does so by maintaining what Caldiero calls a twin presence between holiness and farce, the magical and the mundane, the performance of the jester and the acts of the priest. Through this dynamic presence Caldiero aims to pivot the poet and his audience between sideshow and temple, clearing space in which to enact and to catechize the rites of language. more