Category Archives: Announcements

Dialogue Summer 2011 issue has some WIZards

Coming soon to a mailbox (or computer) near you: Dialogue’s environmental issue.  Several Wilderness Interface Zone contributors are included therein–congratulations, friends! Frequent WIZ contributor Steven Peck guest edited this issue.

Table of contents:

Page     Author     Title
Mary Toscano     Front Cover
Inside Cover, Title Page
v     Edwin Firmage, Jr.     Letters
1     Steven L. Peck     Why Nature Matters: A Special Issue of Dialogue on Mormonism and the Environment
6     George B. Handley     Faith and the Ethics of Climate Change
36     Craig D. Galli     Enoch’s Vision and Gaia: An LDS Perspective on Environmental Stewardship
57     Bryan V. Wallis     Flexibility in the Ecology of Ideas: Revelatory Religion and the Environment
67     Jason M. Brown     Whither Environmental Theology
87     Bart H. Welling     “The Blood of Every Beast”: Mormonism and the Question of the Animal
118     Mary Toscano     A Perch, A Foothold, A Float
119     Patricia Gunter Karamesines     Why Joseph Went to the Woods: Rootstock for LDS Literary Nature Writers
134     Adam S. Miller     Recompense
143     Ron Madson     Grandpa’s Hat
148     Sarah Dunster     Gaius
150     Harlow Soderborg Clark     Easter Sermons
152     Jon Ogden     Seasonal Ritual
153     Jonathon Penny     Winterscape: Prairie
154     Karen Kelsay     Mother Willow
155     Sandra Skouson     Girl Without a Mother to Her Big Brother
156     Mary Toscano     The Tightrope Walker
157     Hugo Olaiz     The Birth of Tragedy
161     David G. Pace     American Trinity
177     Benjamin E. Park     Image and Reality in the Utah Zion
180     Polly Aird     Not Just Buchanan’s Blunder
190     Rob Fergus     Scry Me a River
196     Mary Toscano     Wherever He May Go
197     Peter L. McMurray     This Little Light of Ours: Ecologies of Revelation

Can’t wait to get my copy.   I’m very happy to see so many WIZards’ work appearing in the issue, including poems from WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff.

Only complaint: The cover girl or boy polar bear is cute, but I would have put hummingbirds up front.

Just sayin’.

Winners of WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Announced

Snow_river by Ranveig Thattai

It’s been a privilege and delight for Wilderness Interface Zone to host a spectacular flourish of spring poetry during this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff.  In the kick-off post, I called for a show of green language, of creative élan and prospect-opening words.  I asked for poetry that contained the recombinant stuff of fertile, world-making expression that gets into others’ consciousness and gives rise to new thoughts or that perhaps resurrects a memory.  This year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest entries did all that and more.  Among the poets’ overall accomplishments is the intertwining of song and dance that erupted on WIZ in response to the call for spring verse—a sight that not only was worth seeing but also that was my deep pleasure to join.  It was a good crowd to work with and reminds me of a recent experience watching violet-green swallows mixing it up over beaver ponds. Not only do the birds snatch up insects, each bird for itself, but obviously, they’re flying together and enjoying it, tumbling above and below each other, every bird forming its flight off its comrades’, wheeling, barrel rolling, one bird drawing up short of collision to let another flyer pass under then swooping out of its hover into a long, twinkling glide that weaves right back into a living fabric of free-flight. Continue reading Winners of WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest Announced

WIZ announcements

While we’re teetering on the very edges of our seats gripping our arm rests watching the heated race for the Most Popular Poem Award, I have a few announcements I’d like to make. Continue reading WIZ announcements

A couple of announcements

First, Torrey House Press, which recently sponsored a contest for nature-themed fiction focused on the Colorado Plateau, is sponsoring also a creative literary nonfiction contest.  Torrey House calls for nonfiction that shows their judges “the power of the Colorado Plateau.”  The deadline is May 21.  Essays can be long, up to 10,000 words.  Entry fee is $25.  You can find out more here.

Also, Wm Morris, who helped me start Wilderness Interface Zone, has interviewed frequent contributor to WIZ Ángel Chaparro Sainz over at WIZ’s sister site the Mormon Arts and Culture blog A Motley Vision.  Ángel recently completed a dissertation titled, “Contemporary Mormon Literature: Phyllis Barber’s Writing,” for which he received summa cum laude marks from University of the Basque Country (Universidad del País Vasco – Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea) in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.  Congratulations, Ángel, for finishing the dissertation, for its garnering high marks, and for the intriguing interview.   Seeing WIZ friends pop up in other places in print, on paper for in an electronic medium, is always delightful and cheering.  Well done, Ángel!

To read the interview, go here.

WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration begins!


Light’s rise sparks bright blooms:
birdsong, fields of it, vining–
spring’s first green flourish.

These mornings, I step outside my back door to hear the hush of winter thrown off by a clamor of birdsong–the crackle of starlings, jazzy riffs of purple house finches, a lonely two-syllable call from a flycatcher,  screeches and churrings of magpies, ravens’ gravelly croaks, a woodpecker drumming a juniper tree, jangling songs of meadowlarks outshouting everyone.  Quite stunning, this send-off of the season of low, cold light.  And I can’t help but detect in the intertwining of different avian dialects the bloom of flowery beauty and signature fragrances of meaning.

The language of the birds, or the green language, is the mythical, magical language of wisdom and divine insight thought to pass between birds and those humans with ears to hear the music of the cosmos with which birdsong is thought to be impregnated.  Some traditions equate la langue verte with the adamic or perfect language.  Many folks might consider any relation between birdsong and human utterances and comprehension illusory.  But if you listen closely, you will hear chirps in the language of many species ranging from rodents (prairie dogs’ alarm calls sound bird-ish, and the noisy grasshopper mouse chirrups constantly) to cats (chirps and trills) to amphibians (our Woodhouse toads pip at us) to insects to puppies to people–especially babies.  My nearly 19-year-old disabled daughter, who can understand more words than she can say, chirps, hoots, and trills in response to questions and other words of address.  After nearly two decades of studying her bird-like, tonal language, I think I can rightly claim that I’ve gained from it deep, magical insight–including into the quiddity of human expression.  Because of my experience with her and what I think I hear in the language of birds and other animals and insects, I’ve begun to wonder if, rather than acting as the basic phoneme of  a foreign language spoken by creatures with which we think ourselves to have little in common, the chirp might just lie at the root of human expression.

Whatever else it’s said to be, the mythical language of the birds is highly poetic, layered with multiple strata of meaning, playful, punful, sliding, gliding, beguiling to the ear when performed aloud, and, when conveyed in written interchange, deeply engaging of the mind’s inner ear.

For WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff and Celebration, let’s see if we can outshine the birds in their spring ceremonies.  Human language can be just as green and gorgeous, just as textured and as alluring as the language of the birds.  And when it comes to the opening of new prospects and possibilities, human language can have no rival.  Even the language of the birds lags behind the best effects of the best human language: opening-the-possibilities acts of authentic creation.  Poetry, with its multifaceted, many-leveled effects and metaphoric prowess–its strength for getting across–can create, so to speak, more world.  As John D. Niles says in Homo Narrans: The Poetics and Anthropology of Oral Narrative, “It is through such symbolic mental activities [as storytelling and poetry] that people have gained the ability to create themselves as human beings and thereby transform the world of nature into shapes not known before.”

So this Spring Poetry Runoff, let’s go green in our language.  I don’t mean Green, as in supportive of social or political movements touting environmental protection.  In some cases, that language is the least green of all.  I mean let’s go green, as in producing living, doing, being language that acts to open possibilities by virtue of its creative élan.  I mean let’s give out words that don’t just describe experience, they create experience, providing raw materials that others can recombine for their own narrative needs, thus altering, here and there, world and worlds.   Referencing John Miles Foley, Niles  calls this cosmoplastic, or “world-building” energy of human language, “wordpower.”

During this year’s Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration, we’ll not only be running the poetry contest with prizes in the Most Popular Vote Award and Admin Award categories but also an open-invitation haiku chain (a developing tradition on WIZ), a non-competing category for those poets wishing to participate in the Spring Poetry Runoff just for fun, the Runoff Rerun (re-publishing of one of last year’s poems), and other activities.

Hope you join in.  It’s spring.  Let’s sing it up.

To review submission deadlines, rules, voting procedures, and prizes, go here.


Photo of singing western meadowlark by Alan Vernon.

WIZ’s 2011 Spring Poetry Runoff begins March 20

RodneyLoughJr. Spring Runoff

The Vernal Equinox arrives Sunday, March 20.  To celebrate spring’s arrival last year, WIZ ran a Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration that had fantastic participation–a veritable cascade of sparkling poesy–and was lots of fun.  So beginning March 20, we’re running WIZ’s Second Annual Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration!

In keeping with WIZ’s mission to help develop, inspire, and promote literary nature and science writing in the Mormon writing community, we encourage poets to help call an end to winter and sing up the season of flower and vegetable patches, returning flocks, and light that takes the tarnish off the blood.

Contest rules

  • Submit poems to between March 14 and April 4.
  • All poems submitted must be original, published or unpublished work.  If the work has been previously published, please provide publication information and be sure you can grant us rights to re-publish the work.
  • Please submit poems no longer than 50 lines.
  • All poems submitted must be spring-themed or at least mention spring.
  • Poets may submit up to 3 poems each.
  • Winners of the previous year’s Most Popular Vote Award and Admin Award are not eligible for competition this year but may participate in the non-competition category of the celebration.

The contest will run from March 20 through April 8 or longer, if enough poems come in to warrant extending the contest. All submissions will be published on the blog, where they’ll become automatically eligible for competition as well as open to readers’ informal feedback in post comments. Authors retain all rights to their work.  Authors: Please include a short bio, 50-100 words long, with your submissions.  To help speed up scheduling and posting duties, no photos please.

Entries will be posted one per day until all entries have been posted.  Following the contest’s closing, readers will vote on WIZ to choose the winning poem in the Most Popular Vote Award category.  We will also offer an Admin Award to a second poet, to be determined by blog administrators.

Winners will be announced within a week after the last poem has been posted and all votes have been cast.  The winner will be awarded his or her choice of   Mark Bennion’s Psalm and Selah: A Poetic Journey Through The Book Of Mormon (Bentley Enterprises 2009), A Metaphorical God: Poems ( Persea 2008) by Kimberly Johnson, or The Clearing (Texas Tech University Press 2007) by Philip White.

If you would like to participate in the Spring Poetry Runoff but don’t wish to compete, let me know and I’ll mark the poem, “Not for competition.”

So, if you have written a poem which mentions spring or one in which spring figures prominently and that fits WIZ’s themes and content, e-mail it to us at or  Please review our submissions guide before submitting.

Excerpt from my novel at The Provo Orem Word

Provo Orem Word March 2011 Issue

The Provo Orem Word, an online venue for artists in the Provo-Orem area of Utah, has published an excerpt from my novel The Pictograph Murders (Signature Books 2004) in this year’s nature-themed issue.  You can read the excerpt and rest of the issue here, or click on the picture.  Also, check out the ad for The Pictograph Murders and Wilderness Interface Zone on the inside of the first page.  My son Saul designed that.  I think it’s cool. The links weren’t working today but POW is trying to remedy that.

This issue also contains an interview with Terry Tempest Williams, who will perform a reading from her book Finding Beauty in a Broken World at Brigham Young University on March 17.  This occasion interests me for a couple of reasons, one of them being that Williams has not read at BYU in over 20 years, although faculty members like Eugene England were interested in inviting her.  I think this event long overdue and am glad for it.  If I were up in that area, I’d attend.

Beside Williams’ interview, there’s also a nice piece by George Handley titled “Secret Memory.”  George published an excerpt of his book Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River here on Wilderness Interface Zone.

The issue contains many other gems, including the eighth chapter of an epic poem titled “Rough Stone, Rolling Water” by Dennis Marden Clark.

The Provo Orem Word is an online literary magazine that publishes a nature-themed issue every March, but Rebecca Packard, the publisher/editor, is happy to take submissions all year long at The ‘zine publishes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.  For submission guidelines and a list of The Provo Orem Word’s other themes for this year, email Rebecca at the above address.   Rebecca says, “Not being affiliated with the area will not hurt an author’s chances of being published.”

I’m not a resident of Utah Valley anymore; it didn’t hurt mine!

Time for Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month on WIZ


For the second year, we’re making February “Love of Nature, Nature of Love” month on Wilderness Interface Zone.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day, all month long we’ll publish poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), video or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature.  Or it could go the other way around: We’ll publish work about nature that also happens to give a nod to love.  That presents a wide field of possibilities.  We’re seeking submissions of original work or you can also send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.  So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone dear to your heart–even and perhaps especially your dog–please consider sending it to WIZ.  See the submissions page in the navigation bar above.

Also, February 24th is WIZ’s birthday.  We’ll be two years old—a toddler now.  To celebrate, a couple of posts will offer presents to our readers.  Because without you, dear readers, where would we be?

There’s more than a slight hint of thaw in earth and air.  The light is growing longer.  The first waves  of the Canadian geese migration are rolling through the southern Utah county where I live.  Hen-and-chicks and stork’s bill are beginning to preen.  The coyotes are pairing off.  February is a good month to warm things up.  Got love?  Celebrate it here on WIZ.

Torrey House Press extends contest deadline

Torrey House Press has extended its writing context deadline from January 15, 2011 to February 21, 2011. This press sponsors four writing contests a year. This one is for fiction and short fiction (2,000-20,000 words) exploring “the issues, people, history, cultures, and landscape of the Colorado Plateau and the American West.”  Prizes: 1st Place–$1000; 2nd Place–$250; 3rd Place–$100.  If you’ve got something that might fit the competition’s guidelines, give it a go.

There’s a $25 entry fee.

Torry House is running a creative literary nonfiction contest this year, too, deadline May 31, 2011. For more information about Torrey House Press contests, please click here.