“Blood in the Garden” by Whitney Hemsath

Blood spills on the garden floor.
It isn’t mine
but should be.

My fig leaves, like ignorance, itch to be shed.
They will not be enough beyond the garden—I know that now.
I know we need these coats of skin.

But the beasts—their blood!
It drips like juice from fresh-bit fruit
and stains the soil red.

I cling to the discomfort of my apron because I did not know.
How could I have known?
I thought only those who ate would pay.

With sharpened stone and solemn face our brother calls more beasts.
We wait—for choice ever blooms in this garden—
and I weep as more gentle friends come.

Answering his call, they choose among the flowers
where they will lie,
where they will die,
where they will bleed to cover my cost.

One day when I bring through my blood our own fruit
and these precious skins cover my own,
I may forget the perfumes of Eden,
the heat of the sword all aflame,
but never the trampled flowers under willing hooves
or the far-future promise
of blood in a garden

that won’t be mine
but should be.

“Through a Glass” by Alixa Brobbey

The day before the world unlocked
into geometric shapes, trees were blobs.
Angles were rounded, glowing things,
every object blending into its neighbor.

The way the world unlocked, it rather
shattered into a million tiny grains.
Trees became petals dotted with veins,
but fog threatened to cloud the scene.

So, imagine the joy of godly bifocals,
seeing both star and seed, both
wrinkles and woolen whispers, both
balm and bile, salt and sweet, all
stretching and shrinking through eternity.

“2 Coats” by Jared Forsyth

Wanted: someone who deserves this coat

Someone asked me for my coat today
I didn’t give it to them

I couldn’t be sure they deserved it

I’m not sure I deserve it
and my cloak is plenty warm

if you deserve this coat
you can have it

please bring adequate proof

Homework #5-40

How do you respond when someone asks for your coat?

Do they deserve it? [y/n]

Do you deserve it? [y/n]

Does anyone deserve this coat? [y/n]

And if not, to whom is it to be given? _______________

And to whom do you give the cloak also?_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Chickens without End” by Julia Jeffrey

When I stand up on resurrection day, will I be able to walk, or will there be too many chickens? Will they crowd around me, their plush feathers brushing against my shins, their eyes blinking and their strawberry-red combs wobbling, as they scratch briskly at the ground?

What? You’ve never wondered that before?

I’m staggered by the number of chickens around the globe. Over 25 billion on Earth right now. Each one a creation of God with a spirit. Each (hopefully) thrilled to fulfill the measure of their creation and nourish the children of God. Won’t these obedient creatures be resurrected too? They’ll have to be put somewhere. Will we all wade through a sea of chickens eternally?

“If you want to talk numbers,” you may say, “why worry about chickens? Think of how many resurrected ants and spiders there will be.”

No, thank you. Pondering on the eternal destiny of chickens is less likely to give me nightmares.

People testify of occasions they sensed a deceased pet checking in on them or offering comfort. Personally, I have never been aware of any visits from chicken spirits. I do hope to be reunited with my departed birdies in the eternities. I will cherish the opportunity to carry them under my arm again, smooth their silky backs and necks, and exchange soft bawks and buh-gawks.

I suppose not all of them will be happy to see me, particularly the ones I loved and then ate. I’ll understand if those prefer to keep their celestial distance from me.

Perhaps the near-infinite chickens will have a perfect world all their own. (The ants and spiders would receive similar treatment I suppose, but let’s not dwell on that.) Can you imagine chicken heaven? Valleys, forests, and mountains all with chickens standing beak to tail, like a multi-hued, feathered carpet that jerks and starts and squawks. Birds without end!

When I stand up on resurrection day, I’m definitely going to visit chicken paradise.

“Tower of Babel” by Darlene Young

We didn’t really nowtice what was happening at first. It was so gradual. The dropping of a word’s inding, the slurring, a slanted accent. We crocked our heads, asked each other to ropeat things. You don’t believe me, but think of the wry a tree rots slowly form the inside, the way it pits out fewer and fywer leaves but still seems to preside over the yard. A body slawly curls in on idself over thirty years, bud so many good days and bad dais pile up you don’t see the prend until you find yourself avolding stairs. A marriage is busy, then a business, and than islands skrifting into patches on the holizon. Things dicay.

Soneone finarry asked the question, pointed out that we were sorking at crocc-purposes. There were neetings. There were tantruns. Peopre denanded nore wages, began circurating peditions, then resumes. One tay we noticet that the bik bosses were apsent, having retiret ant novet out to Nartha’s Vineyart. Nittle nanagepent nanaget varialtry to keep up abborances, cawwing in temps, but by Judae nost peopwe hat seed the writhing on the waw. After arr the union trateworkers hat novet on, the wast to heave was a ninor poritician with big dreans ant his pur secretary he hat proniset to norry as soon as his tivorce went thraw. No one locket the toor.

What wo woarnot was nothing I court oxprain to you, nothing you court ovor untorstant, unross first I court tako you to tho top ank thow you that fiow, hom lo tky skrotchot tro gworioutry uroink ut, hom chnuw our unniveng in-wuyt wookb. Ip hounkt ny dring gtiw.

Mormon Lit Blitz 2022 Finalists

From 30 May through 11 June, we’ll post the finalists in this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz here on lit.mormonartist.net. Join us for a daily poem, essay, or short story and vote for your favorites at the end.

Here are the twelve pieces you can look forward to:

30 May: Darlene Young, “Tower of Babel”
31 May: Julia Jeffrey, “Chickens without End”
1 June: Jared Forsyth, “2 Coats”
2 June: Alixa Brobbey, “Through a Glass”
3 June: Whitney Hemsath, “Blood in the Garden”
4 June: Gabriel González Núñez, “Cristo en el huerto de Getsemaní” 

6 June: Jeanine Bee, “Grafted Branches”
7 June: Kevin Klein, “The Fourth Ward Filibuster”
8 June: Selina Forsyth, “Every Member a Missionary”
9 June: Cesar Fortes, “O Caixão de Nhô Jon Anton
10 June: Siviano Stalon Fortes, “O Homem e a Terra”
11 June: Merrijane Rice, “Leah at the Edges”

Congratulations to the finalists! We are thankful for what you do each year to engage our imaginations and widen our sense of what is possible in Mormon Literature.

Following this Lit Blitz, our next contest will be a focused effort this fall to bring together writers working in many languages. If you are comfortable in more than one language and would like to help read submissions, translate finalists, or spread the word, please volunteer through this form.

Note: the initial published schedule listed Alixa Brobbey’s “Through a Glass” on 10 June and Siviano Stalon Fortes’ “O Homem e a Terra” on 2 June. The dates have been changed.


11th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz: Longlist

Thank you to everyone who submitted to this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz!

After our initial review of these pieces, we’re excited to share our long list of twenty-four semi-finalist pieces (listed alphabetically by author’s last name):

J.S. Absher “Until You Come”
Lee Allred “The Giant Chicken Heart That Ate Nauvoo”
Jeanine Bee “Grafted Branches”
Alixa Brobbey “Through a Glass”
Jared Forsyth “2 Coats”
Selina Forsyth “Role Play in Family Therapy Class”
Selina Forsyth “Every Member a Missionary”
César Augusto Medina Fortes “O Caixão de Nhô Jon Anton”
Elizabeth Garcia “Safety Coffin”
Gabriel González Núñez “Christ in Gethsemane”
Marianne Hales “Pandemic Epiphragm”
Whitney Hemsath “Blood in the Garden”
Julia Jeffrey “Chickens without End”
Kevin Klein “The Fourth Ward Filibuster”
Annaliese Lemmon “I Did Obey the Voice of the Spirit”
Timothy Merrill “Sign”
Rowena Palmer “Rhapsody on Hymn 193”
Steven Peck “My mother became chatty at St. Marks Hospital and it didn’t sound like the Alzheimer’s talking”
Steven Peck “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?”
Merrijane Rice “Leah at the Edges”
Merrijane Rice “Cain”
Siviano Stalon Fortes “O Homem e a Terra”
Darlene Young “A Plan of Salvation”
Darlene Young “Tower of Babel”

We will announce the twelve finalists next Monday (May 23).
The finalists will then be published, one per day, from May 30 to June 11, with voting taking place afterward.

Around the World in Mormon Literature: Call for Volunteers

Submissions are currently open for the 11th annual Mormon Lit Blitz.  We’re also preparing, though for another Around the World in Mormon Literature contest this fall, based on the multi-language contest we held in 2019. That contest was a pioneering effort in bringing together Latter-day Saint creative writers working in different languages: the twelve finalists included stories in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Estonian, Tagalog, and English. 

We love hearing from Latter-day Saints in their own languages. Sharing stories helps us feel closer to our brothers and sisters around the world. We need help, though, to work across languages! In 2019, a team of volunteers gave their time to help translate the call for submissions, spread the word about the contest, read submissions, and translate winning stories into English.

Are you excited about Mormon literature? Do you speak English and another language, or have social connections outside the United States? If so, we hope you’ll consider volunteering to help us with our 2022 contest.

Fill out this survey to let us know how you’d like to help. 

11th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Call for Submissions

Since 2012, the annual Mormon Lit Blitz contest has encouraged people to use Latter-day Saint ideas, values, beliefs, or imagery in very short stories, essays, poems, or other forms of writing. An anthology of contest finalists over the contest’s first five years is available here.

We are now accepting submissions for our eleventh annual contest!

Submission details:

Submissions for the Eleventh Annual Mormon Lit Blitz writing contest are due on
30 April 2022 to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com. Submitted works may be in any genre so long as they are under 1,000 words and designed to resonate in some way with a Latter-day Saint audience. Submissions may be written in any language. Previously published material and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Up to three submissions are allowed per author.

Finalists will be posted on the Mormon Artist magazine website (lit.mormonartist.net) in June. At the conclusion of the Lit Blitz, readers will vote for their favorite pieces, and two prizes will be given: a $125 prize will be given to the audience choice winner and a $125 prize for a judge’s choice award. All finalists will later be published in a print anthology, and their authors will become eligible for our new book development program.

To facilitate the judging process, we prefer to receive submissions as .doc, .docx, or .pdf attachments.  Please include the author’s name and contact information in the body of the email but not in the attached story text. Please email submissions and any questions you may have to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com.

As a writer, you retain the right to republish your piece in your own collections or other venues. By submitting, authors give us nonexclusive rights to publish their work electronically and in a future print anthology (with an anthology copy as payment). As stated above, previously published work is fine if you still have the rights to the piece and if it meets the above contest requirements.

Stay in touch: 

For updates about the 2022 contest and other Mormon Lit Lab news, follow the Mormon Lit Blitz Facebook page or sign up for our email list.

If you would like to support our efforts to create space for Mormon literary work, please consider making a monthly donation pledge on our Patreon account.

Thank you for your interest in Mormon Literature!

Saints, Spells, and Spaceships Finalists

A message from our guest editor, Jeanna Mason Stay

Hands have been wrung, dithering has been ongoing (and ongoing and ongoing), stories have been shuffled and reshuffled, and finally we’re down to the finalists. It was such a hard decision, but I’m really looking forward to sharing these stories with you. Congratulations to all the finalists–and thank you to everyone who shared your talents by submitting to the contest!

The publishing schedule for the Saints, Spells, and Spaceships finalists is:

Oct 25: “What Have You Against Being Baptized” by Whitney Hemsath
Oct 26: “The Gift of Undoing” by Katherine Cowley
Oct 27: “The Apocalypse of Kemet III” by Hillary Stirling
Oct 28: “Ministering Blood Brother” by Terrance V. McArthur
Oct 29: “Remote Control Mama” by Rebecca Birkin
Oct 30: “There Is No Release” by Jon Olfert

Nov 1: “Aboard the Nursery Barge” by Sarah Chow
Nov 2: “Gleaners” by James Goldberg
Nov 3: “The 37th Ward Relief Society Leftovers Exchange” by Liz Busby
Nov 4: “The Other Commander” by Whitney Hemsath
Nov 5: “Hie to Kolob” by Emily Adams
Nov 6: “The Gift to Be Healed” by Annaliese Lemmon

We will be featuring the stories at https://lit.mormonartist.net/ and talking about them on the Mormon Lit Lab Facebook page. We’d love to have you join the conversation. Once all the stories have been posted, we’ll put up voting instructions and all our readers will get a chance to weigh in on their favorite stories.

-Jeanna Mason Stay

Love the Mormon Lit Blitz? This year, we’re working to give you more. Past contest finalists were invited to propose a book-length Mormon literature project they’ve been dreaming about. We selected eight to go through a mentoring program, helping give them encouragement and funding to finish a book. If it matters to you to have stories in our religious language, consider donating to support one of the projects.