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Utah State University Press

Utah State University Press

Website: http://www.usupress.org

Utah State University Press is an established refereed publisher in the fields of composition studies, creative writing, folklore, Native American studies, nature & environment, Western history, including Mormon history and Western women's history. USU Press also sponsors the annual May Swenson Poetry Award.


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Utah State University Press

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Arc and the Sediment Cover

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Arc and the Sediment

a Novel

Christine Allen-Yazzie

Gretta Bitsilly, a gin-steeped mother of two and self-proclaimed expert at standing just outside the margins of ethnicity and peering in, has been all but eclipsed by the world that eludes her—as a wife, as a writer, as a skeptic in "the other land of Zion," Utah. Gretta has set off to Fort Defiance, Arizona, where she hopes to convince her Navajo husband, who has escaped not from his family but from alcoholism, to come home. Over a sputtering two-steps-forward, one-step-back desert journey, Gretta is diverted by chance, by seizures, an inconstant memory, and the disjointed character of her irresolute quest. She is fueled by a volatile mix of rage and curiosity and is rendered careless by ambivalence toward her marriage—she knows a welcome mat will not be waiting for her, "that white girl" who can't seem to get anything right. On route Gretta fi nds herself lost in the landscape, in strange company, or in her own convolution of language and inner space. With a dictionary and a laptop she attempts to write herself into a better existence—a hopeful existence—and to connect points of intellectual, physical, even spiritual reference.

This tale, though dark and difficult, is infused with tart, twisted humor. Confused, disheveled, self-deprecating, and self-destructive, Gretta is also sharp and funny. Here, first-time novelist Christine Allen-Yazzie breaks apart her own narrative arc but with gritty reality seals it near-shut again, if in rearrangement, drawing us into Gretta's wrestling match with herself, her husband, her addiction, and the road.

The Arc and the Sediment received an honorable mention from the James Jones First Novel Competition, and it won the Utah Arts Council Annual Writing Competiton Publishing Prize.

Authoring Cover

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Authoring

An Essay for the English Profession on Potentiality and Singularity

Janis Haswell and Richard Haswell

The postmodern conviction that meaning is indeterminate and self is an illusion, though fascinating and defensible in theory, leaves a number of scholarly and pedagogical questions unsatisfied. Authoring—the  phenomenological act or felt sense of creating a text—is “a remarkably black box,” say Haswell and Haswell, yet it should be one of the central preoccupations of scholars in English studies. Not only can the study of authoring accommodate the “social turn” since postmodernism, they argue, but it accommodates as well conceptions of, and the lived experience of, personal potentiality and singularity.

      Without abandoning the value of postmodern perspectives, Haswell and Haswell use their own perspective of authorial potentiality and singularity to reconsider staple English-studies concerns such as gender, evaluation, voice, character, literacy, feminism, self, interpretation, assessment, signature, and taste. The essay is unique as well in the way that its authors embrace often competing realms of English studies, drawing examples and arguments equally from literary and compositionist research.

                In the process, the Haswells have created a Big Idea book, and a critique of the field. Their point is clear: the singular person/mysterious black box/author merits deeper consideration than we have given it, and the book’s crafted and woven explorations provide the intellectual tools to move beyond both political divisions and theoretical impasses.

Bear River Cover

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Bear River

Last Chance to Change Course

Craig Denton

Craig Denton notes, “Water will be the primary political, social, and economic issue in the Intermountain West in the twenty-first century.” Urban Utah thirsts for the Great Salt Lake  principal source, the Bear River. Plans abound to divert it for a rapidly growing Wasatch Front, as the last good option for future water. But is it? Who now uses the river and how? Who are its stakeholders? What does the Bear mean to them? What is left for further use? How do we measure the Bear's own interest, give it a voice in decisions?

Craig Denton's documentary takes on these questions. He tells the story of the river and the people, of many sorts, with diverse purposes, who live and depend on it. Bear River begins in alpine snowfields, lakes, and creeks in the Uinta Mountains, flows north through Wyoming, loops south in Idaho, and enters the inland sea by way of the an environmentally critical bird refuge. Along the way it has many uses: habitat, farms, electricity, recreation, lawns and homes. Denton researches the natural and human history of the river, photographed it, interviewed many stakeholders, and tried to capture the river  perspective. His photographs, printed as crisp duotones, carry us downstream, ultimately to big questions, begging to be answered soon, about what we should and can make of the Bear River. Denton writes,

Gravity my engine,
Water my soul.
I am the teller of life and deep time.

You would measure me.
Sever me.
Own me.
In your name.

Let me flow
In your imagination
That I may speak.

Beautiful Lesson of the I Cover

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Beautiful Lesson of the I

poems

Frances Brent

The Beautiful Lesson of the I is a collection of finely made poems by an accomplished poet. It will reward the scholar and the student of poetry, as well as the reader looking for the simple pleasures of poetic insight authentically felt. Winner of the Swenson Poetry Award 2005. Now in paperback.

Before the Manifesto Cover

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Before the Manifesto

The Life Writings of Mary Lois Walker Morris

Melissa Lambert Milewski

Mary Lois Walker Morris was a Mormon woman who challenged both American ideas about marriage and the U.S. legal system. Before the Manifesto provides a glimpse into her world as the polygamous wife of a prominent Salt Lake City businessman, during a time of great transition in Utah. This account of her life as a convert, milliner, active community member, mother, and wife begins in England, where her family joined the Mormon church, details her journey across the plains, and describes life in Utah in the 1880s. Her experiences were unusual as, following her first husband's deathbed request, she married his brother, as a plural wife, in the Old Testament tradition of levirate marriage.

Mary Morris's memoir frames her 1879 to 1887 diary with both reflections on earlier years and passages that parallel entries in the day book, giving readers a better understanding of how she retrospectively saw her life. The thoroughly annotated diary offers the daily experience of a woman who kept a largely self-sufficient household, had a wide social network, ran her own business, wrote poetry, and was intellectually curious. The years of "the Raid" (federal prosecution of polygamists) led Mary and Elias Morris to hide their marriage on "the underground," and her to perjury in court during Elias's trial for unlawful cohabitation. The book ends with Mary Lois's arrival at the Salt Lake Depot after three years in exile in Mexico with a polygamist colony.

Beneath These Red Cliffs Cover

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Beneath These Red Cliffs

An Ethnohistory of the Utah Paiutes

Ronald L. Holt

Ronald Holt recounts the survival of a people against all odds. A compound of rapid white settlement of the most productive Southern Paiute homelands, especially their farmlands near tributaries of the Colorado River; conversion by and labor for the Mormon settlers; and government neglect placed the Utah Paiutes in a state of dependency that ironically culminated in the 1957 termination of their status as federally recognized Indians. That recognition and attendant services were not restored until 1980, in an act that revived the Paiutes’ identity, self-government, land ownership, and sense of possibility. 

With a foreword by Lora Tom, chair of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah.

Between Pulpit and Pew Cover

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Between Pulpit and Pew

The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore

edited by W. Paul Reeve and Michael Scott Van Wagenen

Mormons gave distinctive meanings to supernatural legends and events, but their narratives incorporated motifs found in many cultures. Many such historical legends and beliefs found adherents down to the present. This collection employs folklore to illuminate the cultural and religious history of a people.

Between Talk And Teaching Cover

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Between Talk And Teaching

Reconsidering the Writing Conference

Laurel Johnson Black

The teacher-student conference is standard in the repertoire of teachers at all levels. Because it's a one-to-one encounter, teachers work hard to make it comfortable; but because it's a pedagogical moment, they hope that learning occurs in the encounter, too. The literature in this area often suggests that a conference is a conversation, but this doesn't account for a teacher's need to use it pedagogically. Laurel Johnson Black's new book explores the conflicting meanings and relations embedded in conferencing and offers a new theoretical understanding of the conference along with practical approaches to conferencing more effectively with students.

Analyzing taped conferences of several different teachers and students, Black considers the influence that power, gender, and culture can have on a conference. She draws on sociolinguistic theory, as well as critical theory in composition and rhetoric, to build an understanding of the writing conference as an encounter somewhere between conversation and the classroom. She finds neither the conversation model nor versions of the master-apprentice model satisfactory. Her approach is humane, student-centered, and progressive, but it does not ignore the valid pedagogical purposes a teacher might have in conferencing. Between Talk and Teaching will be a valuable addition to the professional library of writing teachers and writing program administrators.

Beyond Postprocess Cover

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Beyond Postprocess

edited by Sidney I. Dobrin, J.A. Rice, and Michael Vastola

Contributors to Beyond Postprocess reconsider writing and writing studies through posthumanism, ecology, new media, materiality, multimodal and digital writing, institutional critique, and postpedagogy. Through the lively and provocative character of these essays, Beyond Postprocess aims to provide a critical site for nothing less than the broad reevaluation of what it means to study writing today. Its polyvocal considerations and conclusions invest the volume with a unique potential to describe not what that field of study should be, but what it has the capacity to create. The central purpose of Beyond Postprocess is to unleash this creative potential.

Body My House Cover

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Body My House

May Swenson's Work and Life

edited by Paul Crumbley and Patricia M. Gantt

The first collection of critical essays on May Swenson and her literary universe, Body My House initiates an academic conversation about an unquestionably major poet of the middle and late twentienth century. Between the 1950s and the 1980s, May Swenson produced eleven volumes of poetry, received many major awards, was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and was acclaimed by writers in virtually every school of American poetry.

Essays here address the breadth of Swenson's literary corpus and offer varied scholarly approaches to it. They reference Swenson manuscripts---poems, letters, diaries, and other prose---some of which have not been widely available before. Chapters focus on Swenson's work as a nature writer; the literary and social contexts of her writing; her national and international acclaim; her work as a translator; associations with other poets and writers (Bishop, Moore, and others); her creative process; and her profound explorations of gender and sexuality. The first full volume of scholarship on May Swenson, Body My House suggest an ambitious agenda for further work.

Contributors include Mark Doty, Gudrun Grabher, Cynthia Hogue, Suzann Juhasz, R.R. Knudson, Alicia Ostriker, Martha Nell Smith, Michael Spooner, Paul Swenson, and Kirstin Hotelling Zona.

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