Community Voices: The AML Conference

2007 was the conference where I heard the paper on poetry about Eve by young LDS female writers. In ten or fifteen minutes, I was treated to a wide range of poems I’d never heard of, along with thought-provoking analysis of what the patterns in the poems suggested about the way a generation of women in the church were seeing this world and their incredible potential in it.

2008 I will think of as the year when Angela Hallstrom read from her novel “Bound on Earth” during the evening reading at Charlotte England’s. The passage she read was funny, engaging, and oddly resonant for me–though I have never been a teenage girl with strong feelings for her dashing young high school English teacher, I have felt something akin to her disappointment and alienation when she overhears him speaking in dismissive terms about his young Mormon students. To be able to sit in a home with stained glass windows carrying Restoration and Book of Mormon images while listening to Angela read like a great storyteller should and at the same time to feel as though I were in high school in Ohio navigating my own double-minority experience as a multiethnic Mormon again is something I will not soon forget.

It’s moments like these that keep me invested in conversations about Mormon letters.

Since my family and I will probably be leaving Utah this summer, the February 27 AML Conference will likely be the last I get to attend for some time. What might I experience this year?

Here’s what I’m most looking forward to:  

1) I’ve already seen “Coriantion: A Story of Unholy Love,” but I’m hoping to have a good conversation or two about it between sessions. I’m as interested in the story behind the film as in the film itself: what projects woud we put ourselves on the line for the way Lester Park did, and what would we be trying to acheive in the process?

2) I’m looking forward to Carol Bradley’s presentation on “Books of Remembrance: Historical Fiction in LDS Literature.” I’m intrigued by the way that title ties the LDS emphasis on memory and keeping books of remembrance with a fiction form many LDS people seem to particularly enjoy. I’m deeply invsted in memory: will she give me some hint as to why, and what I, as a reader and writer, might do with that?

3) I’m encouraged by the presence of at least four presentations (by Katherine Morris, Gideon Burton, Katherine Cowley, and Kjerstin Evans) on online LDS writing. One of the primary struggles in Mormon Art is how to reach a national and international LDS audience that’s widely dispersed. I’m hoping online forms will provide a way to do so meaningfully, and am hoping to hear something about how that is taking place, or might take place.

4) Since I’m presenting in the same session, I’m guaranteed not to miss Jared Tamez’s presentation on “La Voz del Desierto,” a late-nineteenth century Mormon publication in Mexico. I’m interested in this because of my family’s own history as Mormons in Mexico, and because it’s nice to see attention paid to the Mormon cultures outside of the church’s geographic center.

5) I’ll be sure not to miss the evening readings by award winners. Who knows what experiences and ideas these great Mormon writers will tap into this year?

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join us at the conference, because it might just be a conversation with you that makes this year’s conference particularly memorable. If you’re not in the area, I hope you’ll still be able to hear about or see fruit from the conference. Will writers be changed in some way by the new ideas they hear? Will scholars find new and useful ways to talk about what’s happening in Mormon letters?

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6 Responses to Community Voices: The AML Conference

  1. Th. says:


    This begs the obvious question:

    For those not in attendance, will there be a way to experience the conference after the fact?

  2. Th., I think they’re planning to record it (but I can’t speak officially on that).

    James, listening to you read from Prodigal Son was one of the highlights of the 2008 conference for me. The reading at Charlotte’s house that year was so great and I wished that more people would have been able to attend. Hopefully this year we’ll have a packed house.

    And just in case people aren’t aware, the schedule containing all the sessions for this year’s Annual Meeting is up. You can check it out here: It looks like it’ll be great. Also–for those who are not yet AML members but want to attend, you will receive a free copy of the Spring/Fall 2009 double issue of Irreantum with your membership/admission, as well as a subscription for the two 2010 issues of Irreantum. Your $25 membership fee will also go a long way toward supporting the mission of the AML, too. Come if you can!

  3. Sorry, the link I posted above is wrong. Visit here:

  4. Theric,

    I’m with Angela in hoping the content gets recorded and made accessible–but even if it doesn’t (or does, but with "all deliberate speed" as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court), I hope those of us who go take some time to blog about our experiences, so we can share in that way.

  5. Moriah Jovan says:

    You could live tweet it with hashtag #amlconf.

  6. Margaret says:

    And of course, you can find out who the award winners are and buy their books :)
    I’m looking forward to the association with lots of friends.

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