We’re Seeking Poems about Heavenly Mother
Peculiar Pages is seeking submissions for a poetry anthology titled Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. This anthology will consist of historical and contemporary poems that address, reference, or otherwise reflect upon Heavenly Mother. We will accept both previously published and unpublished poems and welcome a variety of approaches that incorporate Heavenly Mother in terms of form and content. General portrayals of motherhood, childrearing, or womanhood do not qualify and will not be considered.
Poets may submit up to five (5) poems to the editors via poetryproject@peculiar pages.com. The submissions deadline is August 15, 2015. Poems can be of any form or length and can be in a language other than English as long as an English translation is included. All submissions should be sent in DOC/DOCX, ODT, PDF, or RTF formats. The subject line of your email should follow this pattern: “YourLastName Heavenly Mother Poetry Submission.” Emails should include your full name, your phone number, a brief biographical note (100 words max), titles for your entries, and a statement assuring your poems are original. We will acknowledge receipt of your submissions within 48 hours and will send acceptance notices by November 15, 2015. Please do not contact us regarding your submission(s) before that date.
About the Editors
Tyler Chadwick edited the award-winning poetry anthology, Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets (Peculiar Pages, 2011), and is the author of Field Notes on Language and Kinship (Mormon Artists Group, 2013), a collection of poetry and meditations on poetry. He lives in Ogden, Utah with his wife, Jessica, and their four daughters.
Dayna Patterson is the editor of Psaltery & Lyre. She received the Dialogue Award for Poetic Excellence for her poem “Eloher,” which won first place in the A Mother Here Art & Poetry Contest. Her chapbooks, Loose Threads and Mothering, are available from Flutter Press. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, Charles, and their two daughters.
Martin Pulido has researched Mormon belief in Heavenly Mother extensively. He co-authored the 2011 BYU Studies article, “‘A Mother There’: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” and he has presented at academic conferences on the doctrinal development for belief in Heavenly Mother in Mormonism. He also organized the A Mother Here Art & Poetry Contest. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife Lindsay, son Liam, and daughter Evelynn.
About the Project
One of the basic teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that all human beings—male and female—are spirit sons or daughters of Heavenly Parents and that if we seek to live and love as Christ did and accept His transforming grace, we can become like Them. Mormons often explore what this means in terms of becoming like our Heavenly Father, but we keep needlessly silent about our Heavenly Mother, whose power and influence also shape human history and progression.
Mormons encounter Heavenly Mother in liturgical music, prominently in the well-beloved hymn, “O, My Father,” but also by default as one of our Heavenly Parents in “Oh, What Songs of the Heart” and “We Meet Again as Sisters.” Such performative, congregational art draws singers toward a recognition of Heavenly Mother’s presence. For many this is likely where such contemplation ends, in part because, upon closing the hymnal, the little space Mormons have to explore and discuss the Divine Feminine seems to vanish.
A handful of scholarly works on the topic have been written and read by Latter-day Saints, but the fiction and poetry addressing Heavenly Mother have historically attracted little notice. Many in the LDS community might not even know that such works exist, let alone where to find them. There is no literary anthology about Heavenly Mother that interested readers could reference, and historical LDS periodicals—where many Heavenly Mother poems or stories appeared—were largely out of reach until the archive began to be digitized over the last decade.
While limited access has kept many Mormons from encountering literary work about Heavenly Mother, a pervasive cultural silence that developed during the mid-to-late twentieth century has cocooned Her. From this perspective, Heavenly Mother is too sacred to talk about; speaking of Her would put Her at risk of being blasphemed, which would either break Her heart or summon Her and the Father’s wrath. This applies to heaven William Congreve’s adage: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” In this way Latter-day Saints have counterintuitively honored the Mother by ignoring (and thus “protecting”) Her, an attitude that has more often than not led to not even thinking of Her. This inclination has never been endorsed or encouraged by Church leaders, yet it remains pervasive.
As a result of this cultural mindset, Latter-day Saints have limited public acknowledgment of and discussion about Heavenly Mother’s reality, an approach that has diminished our ability to imagine Her character and being and to develop a more robust sense of godliness and social justice. Imagine what the Church—and our families—would look like, for instance, if we openly acknowledged the Mother’s authority as God, recognized that Her roles are radically equal with the Father’s, and raised Her up as another divine standard for children, youth, and adults to emulate.
The A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest (2014) aimed to counter Mormonism’s cultural silence about the Mother, to inspire thinking about the Divine Feminine, and to show that Heavenly Mother is a valued part of the Mormon religious tradition by encouraging artistic and literary portrayals of Her. We intend to continue that effort in Dove Song by providing access to historical and contemporary poems that address the Mother.