By Emiley Morgan
More than 25 years ago, a group of scholars created an organization to create a higher level of literature for the Mormon community. It was created for literature, for film and for poetry. Its primary objective, however, was to make Mormon literature stronger by creating a community that would approach Mormon literature from the scholarly level.
This organization, known as the Association for Mormon Letters, will host its annual conference this Saturday at Utah Valley State College”s Computer Science Building. The conference is free and open to the public. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m., and the conference will last through 5 p.m.
Linda Hunter Adams, the president of the Association of Mormon Letters, said the organization is focused on creativity, not history and that the conference is about more than literature; it”s about using literature to help people understand their culture and themselves.
“I think that literature helps us understand aspects of our culture and our religion that are most readily understood through that media,” Adams said. “It”s a good way to expose people to what Mormons think and believe and show that we go through things that everyone else does. If it”s good literature, it should be helping to build people”s insight and understanding, their ethics and character.”
Adams said one of the more interesting parts of Saturday will be the mentoring panel for new writers.
“One of the things as president I”ve tried to do is get more young people in AML,” Adams said. “Some people have been members for 25 years, I want the younger college age to learn about it, get excited and participate. That”s the group we”re trying to mentor, and we”ve got a lot to offer them.”
Katherine Morris, president and founder of the BYU chapter of the association, also listed increased student participation as a highlight and objective of Saturday”s event.
“I”m really looking forward to the presentations by BYU students because the reason I started the chapter is, even though it”s well established, there are so few students and so few undergraduates. Really I was shocked to see a great organization with so few students involved,” Morris said. “That”s not going to be the case at this conference.”
Valerie Holladay, editor of Irreantum, the association”s literary journal, said the conference is about both the literature and the people.
“I like people who like ideas and words and care about language,” Holladay said. “I am interested in Mormon literature and how it”s evolving and growing, and we have a lot to learn, especially when there are such big things to write.”