You have two days left to cast your vote in the 2014 Mormon Lit Blitz. Will this be the year when fiction finally breaks the iron grip of poetry on the Lit Blitz crown? Will a male writer break into the top three for the first time ever? Will Merrijane Rice sneak up on rejection and bayonet it back?
Only you–and one or two hundred other voters–can decide! Cast your vote now and then go back to the Mormon Artist blog on 7/7/14 to see the results. Campaigning on behalf of your favorite pieces via social media or door-to-door canvassing is welcome and encouraged.
But it’s not all fun and games in this year’s Mormon Lit Blitz. Charges of censorship, conflict between genres, and an unusual case of “spiritual plagiarism” have all called into question the long-established honor of the Lit Blitz brand.
In today’s post, we bring you up to date on the rumors.
The McCumber Censorship Case
The biggest controversy in this year’s Lit Blitz has to do with an allegation by Andrew McCumber and his songwriting brother Baby “Yellow Bunny” McCumber that their work was censored between the time they dictated their experiences to Laura Hilton Craner and the story’s publication as a finalist.
The McCumbers say that a prior version of the work included the complete song text, and that a threatening email pressuring Craner to “revise the #*$% out of your story” was the cause of a change. “My brother just wants to sing his song,” says Andrew. “I don’t see why they had to take that away from us.”
A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
This year’s Lit Blitz features an all-time high of fiction among the finalists, and has been praised for bringing together popular contemporary realistic fiction, popular speculative fiction, and slipstream literary fiction. A few observers, though, have noticed the total lockout on contemporary realistic literary fiction–a mainstay of AML production through most of its turbulent 38-year history.
Why the lack of love for literary realism? A persistent rumor links the choice to a presentation by Scott Hales at the last AML Conference, in which Hales argued that a turn to the supernatural and bizarre was dominant among a new generation of Mormon literary writers.
“It just seems kind of convenient of him to predict the very trend he wrote his story into,” said a very old man with enormous wings. “What do they call that? A self-serving prophecy?”
A recently retired BYU professor is currently on a hunger strike, punctuated by the occasional meal break, in protest.
A third controversy is centered on a finalist poem by Jonathon Penny. Though lauded for his engaging and original use of language, Penny stands accused of plagiarizing the spirit of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ works–possibly via occult contact with the long-deceased poet.
Investigations are ongoing. A new system of computer analysis designed to compare the emotional fingerprint of works is currently being run on brain scans of Hopkins and Penny readers. Volunteers for participation in the study can contact their local Jesuit order for further information.
A separate investigation into possible steroid use by Penny has also been initiated, on the grounds that less than .5% of poets are naturally that muscular.