Tag Archives: LDS nature writers

Come in Under the Shadow of this Red Rock by Chanel Earl

Calf Creek 2-1

As we walk—side by side—down the long sloping trail, we pass gray trees and black igneous boulders peppering the otherwise white, sedimentary landscape. The earth is a mirror reflecting the hot yellow sun that has so recently removed winter’s snow. I point out traces of vanished streams; you find lizard footprints delicately decorating their sandy banks. We continue on.

I thirst and walk and imagine living forty days in this forsaken place. The nights are cold, the days are sweltering. My mouth dries and I see only sand, sun. The blue skies taunt and laugh with derision.

If there were water and no rock.

I imagine this land as sea, sediment settling onto the ocean floor as the waves rise and fall. I swim and fall to the bottom of the deep.

If there were rock and also water, and water—a spring—a pool among the rock.

I imagine Elijah, sliding into his cave among the rocks to find a saving pool. He drinks and prays.  And sleeps.

If there were the sound of water only—the sound of water over the rock.

As I continue to dream I hear the water. It falls through the canyon. It seeps through the rocks and splashes onto the sand.

I take your hand.  We hear snowmelt careening down the canyon. The rocks echo the sounds of thunderous falls as we arrive at our destination. Too cold to swim, I sit and drink and feel the cool mist on my hot face. You lie, relaxed, in the warm sun.

If I were living in this rock’s shadow, I would live with you. The ravens would bring us grapes and melon. Every morning we would wake to the life of the desert.

On our return you find green buds sprouting from the tips of each gray tree, trees that grow out of living rock. A black bird soars above us.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chanel Earl grew up in Utah and currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to reading and writing, her hobbies include teaching, gardening, knitting, quilting, watching way too much television, parenting and housework. Her work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, The Wasatch Journal and Revolution House Magazine. Her short story collection, What to Say to Someone Who’s Dying, is available online. Chanel is a Mormon. You can find out more about Chanel and her writing at www.chanelstory.blogspot.com.

Meadow Talk by Sarah Dunster

Wade BrightPurpleFlower via Wikimedia Commons

There is no better talk

than

thoughts shared in violet hollows

where not so much praise as scent

not so much words as velvet—

soft petals on our faces—

speak our language.

So, love, make plain

what

you might wish in digging out

green hills for four-leaved omens

we might taste in stems of waiting clover

and I might see in hollows of your

throat, your lips, your eyes.

______________________________________

Sarah Dunster contributes regularly to WIZ as a writer and a reader. Her wide-eyed wonder at the world and at words embodies the spirit of LONNOL month. She has published in Dialogue and Fire in the Pasture. For more, go here.

By the Wayside by Ashley Suzanne Musick

de/ex macchina British Columbia 2007--Jonathon Penny

A baby blue bowl, overturned,

Sums it up somehow:

Trees march up the hills,

Casting a green cape across the soil.

A gray ribbon winds between the mounds of earth

As cars—bright, boldsome gems—speed along the path,

Glinting brilliantly in the sunbeams,

Rushing from one place to another,

Thoughtless of the beauty surrounding them.

______________________________________________________

Ashley Suzanne Musick was born in Fountain Valley, California, on February 26th, 1989, and raised and homeschooled in Anaheim. In 2010, she moved to southwest Kern County, where she lives and works on a farm and writes in her spare time.

Definition of Now by Sandra Skouson

I
The breeze has caught
the cherry tree ready to shed
her petals and the air
is filled with flakes.
They settle in grass
and the lee of the garden steps.
The rosebush that clasps
the creaking trellis
is speckled with white.

II
What is the time?
It is now.  And the place?
The place is here.
How does now look?
It looks like here.

III
Time will take away the thrill
of dazzled air, but hope
continues along my spine
to meet the weight of earth
rising from my feet.

IV
There is no language for now;
silence will have to do.
There is no movement for now;
stillness will have to do.

V
All now is enclosed in this:
at the edge of one breath,
a petal trembles
against my wrist
and the thrush call holds
the center of one note.

__________________________________________________________________

To see Sandra’s bio and read more of her work published on WIZ go here, here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

Excerpt from Home Waters by George Handley

Home Waters by George Handley

The twentieth century has gone down in history for a number of ignominious as well as heroic events, but certainly one of its more troubling legacies is its treatment of rivers. As agriculture gave way to industry and massive development of cities, water was victim to an increasingly private and individualistic conceptualization of property. Consequently, rivers suffered greater transformation than in the previous ten thousand years. They were straightened, diked, and dammed, and where I live water was transported from less populous areas and fed into the Provo, all to provide more space for homes, more safety from floods to homeowners, and reservoirs to ensure the perpetuity of modernization. And as Donald Worster reminds us, the Mormons played no small role in this harnessing of water’s wild and unpredictable ways, seeing dams and dikes as the way of the Lord. Several small hydroelectric dams were built on the Provo early in the century, and then two major dams were built, one in the 1940s and the other in the 1990s.

Within a century of the arrival of the white man, 95 percent of the native species in the river and of Utah Lake went extinct, this despite the fact that it had been the meat of the native fish of the river and lake that provided for humans for thousands of years and saved the lives of the pioneers in those early, hunger-ridden years of settlement. But this is only the most overt and measurable of consequences. Aquatic species worldwide are going extinct at much faster rates than terrestrials. When the fish go, that means the invertebrates, zooplankton, plants, and whole swaths of life go, too. Continue reading Excerpt from Home Waters by George Handley

The Slaying of Trickster Gods by Steven L. Peck

Click for larger image.  Photo by marya (mdot)
Click for larger image. Photo by marya (emdot)

Prologue

When two universes collide
one is destroyed, or
is it
masked?
hidden
in the wind,
preserved,
like a seed to come
forth later?
The other however
folds in on itself,
slowly,
a topological twisting,
until it engulfs itself and
is gone.

Coyote-Man, it seems, never
learned how to deal
with motorized vehicles.
They escaped his desert
logic.
Hasje-altye—Talking God—
never prepared him for
the intrusion.
The invasion.
But who’s to blame?
Who would have believed that
metal
and carbon
seduced from the earth
could be
combined to bring
forth such a monster—
such an engulfer? Continue reading The Slaying of Trickster Gods by Steven L. Peck

WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff Contest

A compass needle, a lizard, spins half a turn
To keep me in sight, tweaking my sense of direction:
Spring is coming — that way.

According to my 2010 turtle calendar, the Vernal Equinox arrives Saturday, March 20.  To celebrate spring’s arrival last year, WIZ ran a Spring Poetry Run-off that turned out to be lots of fun.  So beginning March 19, we’re running WIZ’s Second Annual Spring Poetry Run-off, this time as a poetry contest!

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 midwife the birth of a milder season, a season of gardens, returning flocks, and light that takes the tarnish off the blood.

Contest rules

  • Submit poems to wilderness@motleyvision.org between March 7 and March 31.
  • 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 50 lines long or less.
  • All poems submitted must be spring-themed or at least mention spring.
  • Poets may submit up to 3 poems.

The contest will run from March 19 through March 31 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 the post’s comments. Authors retain all rights to their work.

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.

A winner 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 either a copy of Lance Larsen’s Backyard Alchemy (University of Tampa Press 2009) or Warren Hatch’s Mapping the Bones of the World (Signature Books 2007).

If you don’t want to compete but would like to participate in the Spring Poetry Runoff, 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 wilderness@motleyvision.org.  Please review our submissions guide before submitting.

Thank You, LONNOL Month participants!

Thank you very muches to all those who participated during Love of Nature Nature of Love Month on WIZ.  The list includes:

D. H. Lawrence
Rainer Maria Rilke
Th. (Eric Jepson)
Adam K. K. Figueira
Laura Craner
Andrew Marvell

An esteemed company!

Guest Post: Waters of Mormon, by Mark Bennion

Listen to Mark Bennion read “Waters of Mormon”

Amid the tingle of forest and shadows,
you ford through the water
to the sway of its purl and girth,
a surge of billow where air arrives
in speckles of light. The only
distance is the reach of your hand
and the life after petition and promise.
Trees rustle in incandescence
as the crowd’s whisper fades.
You have come to the place
where heat and cold start to matter.
This point you approach in dusk,
trust, flashes of maroon and stream.
What you’ve known you may come
to remember when the night returns
its grip. Ease into the ripple
now, feel the numbing of flesh,
let the wave bury you
until the sound of dawn.

_________________________________________________________

For more by Mark Bennion, go here and here.

Poems of Biblical Proportions Week

The intertwining of spirituality with images, metaphors, analogies, parables and other language containing  strong veins of agrarian- and wilderness-oriented content is part of what gives scripture its power.   Along with a large proportion of the rest of this Bible-reading country, as Mormons increasingly move inside and explore via the electronic frontier, scripture becomes one of the few places where folks might encounter nature with some constancy.

Of course, one problem that arises from the general nature-human disconnect is that of faltering literacy.  Lacking their own spirituality-nature approach, some readers of scripture find the outdoorsy contexts and nature-hued saturation levels of many scriptural stories and passages mysterious and obscure, or maybe quaint and thick, rather like how the King James version of the Bible loses some students of scripture with its Shakespearean-era rhetorical density.

Wilderness Interface Zone is nothing if not interested in promoting literacy, especially nature-literacy.  So to honor and enjoy scripture’s endearing and enduring traditional affinities with nature and to  encourage folks to throw themselves into experience with nature–even just parks, with trees, grass, ducks, and space to fly kites–to improve their scriptural literacy, we’re running Poems of Biblical Proportions Week.  WIZ is soliciting poetry (or even poetic creative nonfiction) based in both scripture and nature.  Mp3s of music combining  nature and scriptural themes are also of interest.  Your work need not be based in the Bible only.  It may reference any scriptural source, such as the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, etc.

To submit a poem, creative non-fiction essay, mp3, or other poetry-like venture containing both scriptural and natural wavelengths, see our guidelines here.