Thursday, March 25, 2010


Please note, the location of the Friday, 12 p.m. reading at Utah Valley University is Student Center room 206a and b. See you there!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Visions, Our Voices: A Mormon Women's Literary Tour--Schedule of Readings

Please join us on this historic tour of established and emerging Mormon women writers as we consider what it means to be a Mormon woman in the 21st century.

All events free and open to the public.

Monday, March 22, 7 p.m.: Claremont Graduate University
Albrecht Auditorium, Stauffer Hall
Claremont Graduate University
925 N Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
Campus map:
Parking: Parking is located at Dartmouth Avenue and 9th Street, next to Stauffer Hall.

Featuring Susan Scott, Lisa Van Orman Hadley, Joanna Brooks, Holly Welker, Elisa Pulido

Tuesday, March 23, 7 p.m.: Arizona State University
Coor Building 170
975 S. Myrtle
Tempe, Arizona 85281
Campus map:
Parking: Metered parking on streets is free after 6 p.m. City parking lots are also available near the Coor Building at Myrtle and University and Forest and University
Featuring Judith Curtis, Whitney Mower, Whitney Nelson, Danielle Dubrasky, Joanna Brooks, Susan Scott, Lisa Van Orman Hadley, Holly Welker

Thursday, March 25, 5 p.m.: Southern Utah University
Sharwan Smith Student Center Theater
351 West University Boulevard
Cedar City, Utah 84720
Campus map:
Parking: Parking lot is located immediately south of the Student Center at 200 South, 600 West.

Featuring Zoe Murdock, Judith Curtis, Whitney Mower, Whitney Nelson, Danielle Dubrasky, Joanna Brooks, Susan Scott, Lisa Van Orman Hadley, Laura Nielsen Baxter, Holly Welker

Friday, March 26, 12 noon: Utah Valley University
LI 120 (Library Auditorium)
800 West University Parkway
Orem, UT 84058
Campus map:
Parking: Visit the Parking Services office just east of the UVU campus at 900 for a visitor permit and parking location.

Featuring Julie Nichols, Lee Mortenson, Terisa Humiston, Whitney Nelson, Whitney Mower, Judith Curtis, Elizabeth Pinborough, Kathryn Lynard Soper, Cassandra Eddington, Joanna Brooks, Zoe Murdock, Lisa Van Orman Hadley, Susan Scott, Danielle Dubrasky, Laura Nielson Baxter, Holly Welker, Angela Sweat Hallstrom

Saturday, March 27, 7 p.m.: University of Utah
Fort Douglas Honors Center
1975 De Trobriand St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Parking: Lot 69, east of Chapel Glenn.

Featuring Holly Welker, Elizabeth Pinborough, Lisa Van Hadley, Victoria Burgess, Kathryn Lynard Soper, Joanna Brooks, Zoe Murdock, Cassie Eddington, Susan Scott, Judith Curtis, Whitney Nelson, Whitney Mower, Terisa Humiston, Danielle Dubrasky, Laura Nielson Baxter

We thank our sponsors: the Utah Valley University Departments of English, Religious Studies Program, and Center for the Study of Ethics and the Claremont University Mormon Studies Program.

All women are invited to bring their own writings to contribute to the Our Visions, Our Voices collection at the University of Utah Marriott Special Collections Library.

Get tour updates on Twitter: follow askmormongirl.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

About the "Our Voices, Our Visions" Tour

What place do "Mormon" women writers have in the 21st century? Join poets, novelists, memoirists and non-fiction authors from California to Canada to explore the question in Our Visions, Our Voices: The Mormon Women's Literary Tour to university campuses throughout the Southwest, the week of March 22 - 27, 2010.

Project founders Dr. Joanna Brooks of San Diego State University and Dr. Holly Welker of Salt Lake City have tapped into a range of denominations that share historic roots with the greater Mormon and Latter Day Saint traditions.

“This is about creating common ground,” says Brooks, a professor of English. “We want to create a space for women to share their writing and reflect on what it might mean to be a Mormon woman in the 21st century.”

The ground-breaking project brings women writers face-to-face with audiences that recognize the need for a vibrant writing culture beyond the bounds of orthodoxy. The Utah Valley University Department of English is sponsoring the tour, with additional support from the Claremont University Mormon Studies program. Audio will be podcast at Women writers who want to contribute to the tour’s archive at the University of Utah Marriot Special Collections Library can bring their own writings to the readings.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bios of Participants in the 2010 Tour

Laura Nielson Baxter writes, "I was born the oldest of seven children and raised in Utah County by loving and supportive parents. We spent our growing up years climbing trees, camping and imagining up myriads of other family adventures. Despite my parents’ best efforts to keep our family wholesome and happy, my childhood years were marred by sexual abuse, which opened my eyes early to the unspoken troubles surprisingly rampant in Mormon culture, which has become a poetic focus in my writing. Although my poems can be seen as humorous, the satire is used to downplay the seriousness of the poetic themes. After my first semester of college, I lived in China for 6 months, where I contracted an illness that seriously impaired every aspect of my life, and consequently forced me to abandon my studies. Last year, I graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English from UVU with emphases in Literary Studies and Creative Writing as well as an AA in Visual Arts with High Honors. I have a passion for all things art; I am interested in anything from music and visual arts to drama, literature, and writing. In our free time, my husband and I enjoy anything outdoors, analyzing films, and checking things off our own ever-growing adventures list."

Joanna Brooks states, "I was raised in a conservative Mormon home among the last great orange groves of Orange County, California, and I published my first poem in the LDS children's magazine The Friend when I was 8 years old. Now, I'm an award-winning scholar and writer, a mother, a feminist, and a community organizer. I'm also a professor of English and chair of the department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. My writing about contemporary Mormonism has been featured in the New York Times and on National Public Radio. Although my Mormon path has led me to and through some unorthodox places, I have a deep love for my pioneer roots and my faith. I organized this tour because I was hungry to reach across the boundaries of orthodoxy and unorthodoxy that have sometimes carved up our culture and connect with other Mormon women as we write our way into a vibrant twenty-first century." Visit her at

Judith Curtis states, "I have ridden the wave of LDS feminism since I arrived in Boston during the mid-60s as a newlywed grad student fresh from Brigham Young University. My friends and mentors were the women who later established Exponent II. Armed with an AM degree from Boston University, some teaching experience and a toddler, we returned to the West where I launched into a career rearing five children, doing church and community work and teaching piano. Sporadic journalling and occasional poems gave way to more serious writing when I turned fifty and enrolled in a creative writing certificate program at Phoenix Community College. Some of my work is a reflection of my Mormon culture, my long-term interest in women from church history and my fascination with the ways Joseph Smith's cosmos anticipates scientific discoveries concerning time and space."

Danielle Beazer Dubrasky received the 2006 Utah Arts Council First Place Award for Poetry for a book-length collection of poems entitled To Live Elsewhere. She is also the author of Persephone Awakened (2002), a chapbook of poems designed by book artist Sue Cotter of Woodhenge Press. Her poetry has been published in ECOllective, Tar River Poetry, Weber Studies, City Arts, Petroglyph, Irreantum, Dialogue and other places. She has collaborated with choreographers, composers, and visual artists in performances and exhibitions of her poetry. She has given readings at the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Great Salt Lake Book Festival, the Open Ears Festival in Kitchner, Ontario; the Arts Club of Washington, DC; the American Literature Association Contemporary Poetry Symposium; and the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society Asilomar Retreat in California. Danielle grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in English from Stanford University, where her thesis director was Denise Levertov, and a PhD from the University of Utah’s Creative Writing program where she worked with Donald Revell and Mark Doty. She is currently an associate professor at Southern Utah University.

Cassie Eddington writes, "Raised by a single mother in the homogeneous Mormon community of Utah Valley, I felt the injustice and exclusion that strict definitions of family and femininity can create. We were “free lunch” kids growing up in various housing projects of Utah County. While this did put us on the economic and social periphery, my family had belonged for generations to Mormonism. Therefore, we were still 'special.' But I learned to be nervously special, as I comprehended, gradually, that certain narratives mattered more than others. Existing in this middle ground made me question what I have now come to understand as cultural orders and hierarchies, which I track compulsively in my critical work and poetry. More on middleness: my poems often incorporate natural Utah landscape and fleeting suburbia and are concerned with narratives that rupture the normalcy so often portrayed in Utah Mormonism. This middleness currently means an obsession with physical space. (After leaving Utah I am stuck in all its places.) Most of all I try to keep a problematic eye on characters who are dear to me, while still trying to inhabit the the images and places that throb with the magic and beauty that Mormonism created for me. My culture taught me to 'stay away from the mysteries.' Maybe in direct rebellion, I want to reside in them. I want to answer to what Allen Ginsberg describes: 'making the private world public, that's what the poet does.' I graduated with a BA in English from Utah Valley University. Sometimes theorist, sometimes poet, sometimes pushing students to think critically, I am currently pursuing an MA in literature at Colorado State University where I also teach freshman composition."

Lisa Van Orman Hadley grew up the youngest of six kids in Panama City, Florida and Salt Lake City, Utah. After stopping over in Hawaii (for school) and Brazil (for an LDS mission), she moved to Boston four years ago. She earned her BA in English from the University of Utah in 2004 and her MFA in Creative Writing from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers in 2009. She won first place in Salt Lake City Weekly’s Short Fiction Contest in 2003. Her work has also appeared in Conclave: A Journal of Character and Soon Quarterly. When she moved to Boston, she became involved in Exponent II and Mormons for Equality and Social Justice. She is currently working on a novel in stories. She procrastinates by cooking, secretly watching really bad reality television, and thinking up ways to make the studio apartment she shares with her husband and one-eyed cat seem just a little bit bigger.

Angela Hallstrom is an author, editor, and creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University’s Salt Lake Center. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Hamline University and is the editor of the recently-published anthology Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction (Zarahemla Books, 2010), a collection of critically-acclaimed short stories by Mormon authors. Her novel, Bound on Earth (Parables, 2008) received the Whitney Award for Best Novel by a New Author and the Association for Mormon Letters Award for the Novel in 2008. Her short fiction has won awards from the Utah Arts Council has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Angela also serves as co-editor of the AML’s literary magazine, Irreantum, and on the editorial board of Segullah. She lives in South Jordan, Utah, with her husband and four children.

Terisa Humiston writes, "I was born and raised in Oregon before trekking out to Utah with my family when I was ten years old. Eventually, I fell in love with the multi-faceted geography and vast natural beauty of Utah and have tried to be outdoors as much as possible ever since. I'm finishing my Bachelor's degree in English from Utah Valley University soon and, after I graduate, can't wait to spend my time assigning myself to write papers, before going on for an MFA in fiction. Being a member of the Mormon faith has created in me a desire for understanding within the realms of human belief. More than what is disagreed on, I'm interested in exploring the similarities found among the differences between us, while still celebrating those differences as they are found through sojourning our own difficulties, loves, joys, griefs, excruciating intricacies, hilarities, and evolving perceptions of Truth. I lean toward writing about fusions between the natural world, the supernatural, and humans as participants. I'm twenty-seven years old and can't wait for my thirties, I’m working on an indoor garden of herbs and vegetables with my husband, which hopefully won’t be mistaken for anything but a garden of herbs and vegetables by our landlord, and find myself deeply fascinated in observing even the most boring (seemingly) of persons."

Lee Ann Mortensen The author of “We Forget Our Origins” writes about the urban west and especially the conflicts within and between queer, lesbian, conservative, and religious consciousnesses. She is currently working on a collection of prose called What My Lover Wants. She has published stories in journals like Exquisite Corpse, River Styx, and Ploughshares, and she has been anthologized in Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction (Avon, 1995), and in Our Lovely Deseret: Mormon Fictions (Signature, 1998). She has also won Utah Art’s councils awards, a Poet’s & Writers Exchange Fellowship, and a fellowship to the Summer Literary Seminar in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received her MFA from the University of Utah in 1992, and is now a full professor of creative writing at Utah Valley University where she tries to shake up the “red state” status quo with her readings and with annual performances in UVU’s production of The Vagina Monologues.

Whitney Mower writes, "I grew up a Mormon in Provo, Utah. In my creative prose I explore the American West sometimes using realism, sometimes using surreality, scriptural language, or elements of horror. I've discussed LDS dogma such as eternal marriage and Christian phenomena like visions. I’m interested in characters who struggle to sanely combine the grit of reality with the fantasy of religion. To language I pay strict attention; I am interested in poetic density but cleanliness and simplicity as well. I've tried to channel the hypnotic bite of Jeanette Winterson's prose in The Passion, as well as her magical approach to history. I've obsessed over Cormac McCarthy's novels, so raw at times and bleak, yet biblical, supernatural. I hope to one day command language like Winterson or McCarthy, write characters as genuine as Sherwood Anderson's in Winesburg, Ohio or allegories as bizarre and relevant as Borges's. As Lord Albert Dunsany re-tells myths in his collection of prose poems 51 Tales, I want to re-tell myths I've been told and create new myths, too. I will be brave in my depictions of Mormonism, but sympathetic to my people and fair---I will always try to remember Tobias Wolff's critical but delicate handling of his own history in This Boy's Life. I will receive my Bachelor's degree in English this April and have applied to 14 MFA fiction programs around the country. My goals are to write an honest novel and teach English with compassion."

Zoe Murdock. Novelist, teacher, author of Torn by God: A Family’s Struggle with Polygamy. Murdock explains the inspiration for her novel, “I was raised in a small Mormon town in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. When I was a child, my father got interested in polygamy. I was very young at the time and I never knew all of the details, but I do remember finding my mother in the bathroom crying, with a towel over her head. And I remember her telling my father, “If there’s polygamy in heaven, I don’t want to go there.” My family grew up with the idea of polygamy. I mean, we were Mormons, and even though polygamy was against the law and grounds for excommunication, we knew it was still going to be practiced in the next life. We knew the prophets, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, were polygamists, along with a lot of other men in the early Church, including my great great grandfather. As a result, it caused a kind of split in my brain when as kids we made fun of the polygamists from the Rulon Jeff’s clan who lived just up the road, because in a way we were making fun of ourselves: ourselves in the past and ourselves in the future.” My father’s exploration of polygamy was devastating to my mother and I came to believe that it was a large part of why she died so young. Then, after my father died several years ago, I decided to go back in my mind to try and reconstruct what happened during that period and why. Torn by God is the product of that journey. I’ve written more about the background of the novel and about myself and the writing process on my website at:"

Whitney Nelson writes, "When I was fifteen, and faithful to my family’s Mormonism, Sister Larson took me and several other girls to try on wedding dresses at the local David’s Bridal. My friends were giddy about dressing up, but Sister Larson soon reminded us that the activity bore profound purpose: to prepare us for our calling as wives and mothers. Once at the shop and presented with a lace gown, my initial protest turned to refusal. My first real act of panic-driven religious rebellion landed me in the bishop’s office where he informed me that I’d fallen into the 'cracks of androgyny.'

"Ten years later, I am awaiting graduate school responses, (finally) graduating from Utah Valley University, and am looking forward to baseball season. My writing explores the cultural and religious expectations of men and women, specifically the sometimes unbridgeable gaps that can so easily annihilate relationships between spouses, friends, even brothers and sisters. Despite my bishop's negative summation, I feel I’ve found my niche in the 'cracks of androgyny,' a place where binaries are ruptured, a place that never offers easy answers to complex questions."

Julie Nichols has been through several incarnations in this life (as have most of us by the time we're in our mid-fifties): conflicted Berkeleyite daughter of faithful Mormon parents in the Bay Area of the 60s; rebellious BYU Honors student (BA and MA in English); furious newlywed IN UTAH (did I really sign up for this? He told me he'd take me home to California!); young depressed mom (3 babies in a fast row, with a fourth later on); successful Ph.D. candidate in fiction writing at the University of Utah (marched in 1994); student of energy work and consciousness healing (a result of the question, how did Jesus do what he did? how can I do it too, so I might heal?--presented to me in answer to an outcry of prayer) for going on 30 years now, with two books on the subject and many years of private practice incorporating writing-as-healing and hands-on bodywork. As of this moment, take a look: awaiting announcement of tenure at last as a faculty member in the Department of English & Lit at Utah Valley University, grandmother of 7 1/2 of the really most beautiful children on the planet, still married to the same guy, and humble Relief Society president in the Provo ward she's lived in through most of the above. She hasn't written fiction since her first novel bit the dust three years ago, but there are some fine feminist prize-winning stories in her past (both Sunstone & Dialogue). Creative nonfiction has also won her some recognition. She is working now in two streams, both having to do with evolution: one, the co-evolution of technology and human consciousness; the other, the work of Owen Barfield, the "trustworthy opponent" of C.S. Lewis mentioned in Surprised by Joy, who presents evidence in his study of language and imagination that human consciousness is an ever-evolving process. His writing feels blessedly like home.

Elizabeth Pinborough spent five years of her childhood in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the rest of her growing up years in Salt Lake City, Utah. As an undergraduate at Brigham Young University, she revisited her Kentucky roots by researching (insert, “having a love affair with”) Shakers. The fruits of that project included her sole poetry publication, “A Shaker Sister’s Hymnal,” which appeared in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. After graduating from BYU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, she interned at the Joseph Smith Papers Project and applied to graduate programs. She landed at Yale Divinity School, where she is completing a master’s degree in religion and literature. She participates in a weekly poetry workshop called Inkwings with other divinity students. Oil painting, Sacred Harp singing, and photography are among her favorite pastimes and stress relievers.

Elisa Pulido has published poems in River Styx, The Ledge, Another Chicago Magazine, Margie, The North American Review and RHINO in the US and in Interchange and The New Welsh Review in the UK. In 2007 she was made an honorary member of Academi Cardiff, the national literary society of Wales. She has an MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently doing coursework for a PhD in Religious Studies at Claremont Graduate University. In 2004 she founded the Casa Romantica Reading Series in San Clemente California.

Susan Scott states, "The Saints’ collective history is brimming with refreshing storylines. Independence, Missouri, for instance, is home to another branch of the Restoration movement, the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or RLDS), otherwise regarded as 'moderate Mormons.' Yet the title “Mormon” is still deeply problematic for a people who’ve been safeguarding their distinctiveness from the Utah church since 1860. What the sister denominations do share is a rich family history of pioneering, inventive storytelling and fertile religious imaginations—natural building blocks for writers who recognize the need for dialogue and collaboration. What I bring to this tour, then, is the perspective of someone with long-standing roots among the social progressives. My people joined the RLDS as settlers in the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Canada--a stream of family service in the ministry that deepened and expanded once women gained entrance to the priesthood in the 1980s. I, on the other hand, chose to serve the word: by writing, editing and university teaching. From time to time I also collaborate with other artists to create grassroots ventures such as Free Range Arts or the award-winning Water Stories Project, models for community restoration and exploring love of place. Readings are from the latter project and from the memoir Sainted Dirt: Adventures in Domestic Mysticism.

Kathryn Lynard Soper writes, "Although writing has been an interest of mine since I was a child, I did not pursue personal writing until 2003, when I was trying to digest a series of life-changing experiences. The writing process itself was so transformative that I decided part of my life work would be crafting personal writings and helping others do the same. This decision sparked the establishment of The Segullah Group, a non-profit organization producing literary works that include, inform, and inspire. My projects within this organization include four anthologies: two which focus on Down syndrome (Gifts and Gifts 2), and two which focus on motherhood from a Mormon perspective (The Mother In Me and the sequel in progress). I’m also editor-in-chief of Segullah, a twice-yearly literary journal by and for Mormon women.

"In 2009 I published my first solo work, The Year My Son and I Were Born, a memoir which details the personal transformation I experienced after the birth of my seventh child, Thomas, who has Down syndrome. While the story explores in detail the dynamics of mothering a disabled child, it also addresses the challenges of motherhood on a much broader spectrum. Subtopics include my struggle with clinical depression as well as related aspects of my spiritual journey. But more than anything else, it’s a story about coming to terms with being human.

"Those same themes–mothering and Mormonism, depression and disability, spirituality and simple humanity–continue to form the basis for my writing."

Holly Welker was born and raised in southeastern Arizona, the descendant of dour Mormon pioneers who moved south from Salt Lake City shortly after arriving in it. Having recently relocated to Salt Lake City, she is surprised at how much she loves the city. She has an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona and a PhD in contemporary American literature from the University of Iowa. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such publications as Best American Essays, Bitch, Black Warrior Review, The Cream City Review, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Image, The Iowa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Laurel Review, Literature and Belief, Other Voices, New York Times, PMS, Poetry International, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Sunstone, and TriQuarterly. She recently completed a memoir about her relationships with gay Mormon men–-think Angels in America meets Will and Grace. She is currently working on a collection of essays about female embodiment. She enjoys chocolate, textiles and 80s pop music.