2016 Mormon Lit Blitz Discussion

We have twelve stellar pieces this year–short stories, essays, and poems. Some will inspire you. Some will challenge you and your notions of Mormon literature. Some will give you insights even as they make you laugh.

In the comments to this post, we want to hear your thoughts and your reactions on the pieces. What struck you? What was interesting or original about a piece? What is the dialogue between the pieces? We invite everyone to chime in, including the authors.

And here are the pieces:

57 thoughts on “2016 Mormon Lit Blitz Discussion”

  1. I like the line about slipping and spilling in the first entry. I can just see the oil the person is trying hard to take care of, spilling as they misstep. And the conclusion that perhaps “never making a mistake” is not the point so much as forward progress.

    1. I like that about “Foolish and Wise” as well. It’s interesting because we normally talk about how you are either foolish OR wise. You’re either bad or good, unprepared or prepared. And then when I fall short–when I spill–I wonder if there’s no hope for me. But you’re right that it’s about the forward progress.

  2. I like the lack of agenda in Fresh Courage Take. When I realized it was an apocalyptic flash fiction, I was waiting for there to be some kind of blame placed, but it was about the families we create in hardship.

  3. I just found this! Fresh Courage Take had such an impact on me. We know there will be destruction in the last days, but it’s hard to imagine it happening to you personally.

  4. I really enjoyed both of the poetry pieces featured so far. I love the line from Foolish and Wise: “both faithless and believing in alternating breaths.” That resonated with me. How often I have felt that way!

    From Leaving Egypt, the phrase “now from the backside of Sinai’s emptiness” gave me chills. Love that imagery.

  5. First, Leaving Egypt is just a beautifully constructed poem. I like how the theme addresses similar themes as Fresh Courage Take. Also, it reminds me of how the blessings for following God’s commands go a lot deeper than simple physical rewards, like the flesh pots of Egypt.

  6. Nice pieces so far. “Foolish and Wise” was simple and poignant, relatable. Enjoyed seeing apocalyptic fiction Mormon Style in “Fresh Courage Take.” Lots of room for me to interpret Leaving Egypt just how I’d like to—along the lines of the necessary bitter-sweetness of leaving life’s Edens when called out of them. I’d like to point out my favorite bits of that one, but there are too many.

    1. If you like apocalyptic Mormon fiction, I have a story called “Unto Every Natiom” about a missionary in the zombie apocalypse that you might like.

  7. If “Ghost” is about what I think it’s about, then Merrijane has given me quite the bittersweet view of the future (my daughter is currently 12). Actually: already starting to glimpse it.

    But then again: isn’t that exactly a type and shadow of our relationship to our Heavenly Parents?

  8. Merrijane’s piece, “Ghost,” touched me deeply. As an empty-nester, i know these feelings all too well. Couldn’t agree more with @Wm. Absolutely a type of our relationship to your Heavenly Parents. Maybe that’s why MJ titled it as she did, i.e. the Holy Ghost whispers, but do we hear?

  9. “The Gift of Tongues” was a very fun story. Thinking about the impact of her relationship with the dog at home may be my favorite part.

  10. Quite impressed with “Fresh Courage Take.” A lot packed in a short vignette — world building, atmosphere, and character attitude. Nicely done!

  11. I really liked that “The Gift of Tongues” set up an unexpected conceit in such a matter-of-fact way and then complicated it and then created an unexpected, understated, pragmatic but lovely resolution to it.

  12. The thing with personal essays like “Requiem for Those People Who Lived Briefly in Your Ward” and “Branch 9 ¾” is that they are good reminder that your experience (esp. w/the Church) are both like and unlike the experiences of other members. I’d like to see more flash essays like these where the prose has been honed more than an average blog post.

    1. I remember someone bearing their testimony at Youth Conference and saying that as a utahn, she never realized how hard we had it in Massachusetts. I doubt she had an idyllic life, but the church is so different for a unified front. I served my mission in California and it was completely foreign to me. (Plus I spoke Spanish.)

  13. “Branch 9 ¾” sounds totally like the kind of conversation that would happen at our house. And lol on the Golden Contact story. :)

    I’m struck that several of the pieces deal with moving (whether to Missouri in a post apocalyptic setting, or leaving Egypt, or whatever). My experience is that the LDS population moves perhaps slightly more often than the rest of the population, at least in the US. If you think back to the Israelites and the Nephites and the pioneers, we have quite the heritage of moving, even those members today who live just down the street from parents and grandparents. There’s something important about being able to find your people and your place in life, even if the view out the window tends to change.

  14. Golden Contact–now I’m glad I didn’t write my “aliens visit earth where this much-talked-about Jesus was born and want to just do a pilgrimage, not cause mayhem” story this year. XD

  15. I sat on back rows of YSA wards for years because my eternal companion gave me PTSD. Now I’m the chorister and have to grit my teeth through some meetings, but I understand this.

  16. I too am a back-row sitter. At first because I was often late to church, but now for the reasons Kelli Swofford Nielsen identifies (another essay that falls into what I was talking about above — thanks, Kelli) and also so that after sacrament meeting, I’m well positioned for people to see me and come talk to me if they need something related to my calling.

  17. This is a killer line, Lee: “There’s sort of a unnatural sharkskin texture to them that almost glows.”

    1. O/T, Jennifer, but I really had fun wandering through your webpage art portfolio. :)

      1. Great site you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics discussed here? I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Kudos!

  18. Rather sad this year’s event is coming to a close. I’ve enjoyed reading them all.

    “From the East” — very nice, very powerful.

    “Rumors of War” — powerful but painful (I served three rotations in Iraq).

  19. How many are coming to the Mormon literature group in Provo at Pioneer Book? I’d love to meet you all and hear you read your pieces.

  20. Wow! Such great work! This is the first I’ve had time to sit and read it all – grateful to be part of this! I’m not sure I have a favorite – though the sentimental side of me loved The Back Row. And I loved From the East – what an act of faith that had to have been, to leave everything you knew to follow a star. Stunning piece.
    We moved away from KC, MO about a year ago, I liked living there – figured that if something apocalyptic happened that would be a good place to be! Would have loved to be present for the 9 3/4 conversation…
    I’m not it UT, so hoping to participate in the Pioneer Book event via Skype. Thank you for sharing, everyone!

  21. Rumors of War, a free verse written from the heart and from experience. Zach’s use of today’s wartime reality as compared to the reality of war in the Book of Mormon gives us a window into the soul of a soldier. Subtle and understated, this is a masterpiece.

  22. Loved the clever juxtapose in “Foolish and Wise” and “Rumors of Wars.” And “imposing your thirst” from “Leaving Egypt.” Thanks for sharing—and good luck!

  23. I loved The back row, it really gave me a new perspective on why some of my dearest friends sit all the way in the back. I’m going to have to try it for sure! Thanks Kelli!

  24. “Fresh Courage Take”. Perhaps someday we all will have to reverse step and head “east” again. Without any certainty of what conditions might await us when we get there. And the trip promising many different threats and dangers along the way. The irony of it all! Loved the story.

  25. The “Back Row”, really makes sense. Once I was in tithing settlement and made a comment about a another family who seemed, “perfect” to me and themselves. The bishop stopped me and commented that they had issues too. It made me realize that everyone else had some baggage they are carrying and you don’t realize what’s inside. Thanks for sharing your “carry on”

  26. “The Gift of Tongues” made me smile twice: once when I realized what gift she had, the second time at the end. Nice.

  27. I really like “From the East,” partly for all that it suggests remains the same in human nature and even culture regardless of time and change. (I didn’t get the context until “swing from stirrup to saddle” line.)

  28. I like “Ghost” for its language and imagery, even though it’s less distinctly Mormon than most of the other pieces.

  29. Maybe I’m reading into it, but it seems to me that “Rumors of War” suggests some painful things between doing one’s duty as a soldier and doing one’s duty as a Latter-day Saint. How do you hold onto love of others when those others are shooting at you and it is your job to shoot at them? How can the enemy’s homeland also be holy?

    1. There’s a Mormon Lit group headed by Scott Hales that meets monthly in Provo. Anyone can attend–or skype in. This month it’s on the 21st, and they’ve invited any of the finalists/semi-finalists from the Mormon Lit Blitz to read their pieces. I’m going to mention the event in the blog post tomorrow that announces the results, but if you want more info/contact info for those leading it, send an email to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com and I’ll send you more information.

  30. I was late finishing the stories, and failed to vote, dang it. So many good pieces, I think I would have picked “The Gift of Tongues“ by Annalise Lemmon and “Last Tuesday” by William Morris at the top of my list. My speculative fiction bias, perhaps.

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