editing Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets
Fire in the Pasture is the first anthology of Mormon poets since the groundbreaking Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems was published in 1989 — over 20 years ago. Its title carries on an agricultural metaphor begun with the short-story anthology Greening Wheat published in 1983 — and in fact fulfills the old prophecy about that anthology, that it was the first of three planned by Levi Peterson, with the next two having the titles Nodding Heads and Burning Stubble.
Chadwick, however, drew his title from the poem “Finding Place,” one of several by Doug Talley in the collection, which begins:
A fire in the pasture undulates
of blue and white and yellow flower,
a fire like a snake, iridescent by sunlight
and undulant in the wind.
Further on, Talley expands on the metaphor in these words:
The kingdom of heaven found on earth
is like a pasture, a strange, little kingdom
full of spicery, the undulant and speluncular,
and all the other words by which we frame it.
Fire in the Pasture records the changes, movements, and new and old themes that Mormon poets are and have been struggling with. The collection is highly representative of the various types of Mormon poets, with many up-and-coming poets included. That generosity alone merits the award. But the themes, styles and forms show great variety, and manifold interests. Although the poems in Fire in the Pasture do not uniquely deal with Mormon themes, anyone wanting to become more familiar with contemporary Mormon poets would benefit by reading this diverse collection of poems generated from Mormon cultural and religious expressions of both the sacred and the mundane.