The Utah Monthly Turns One

A note of thanks to our readers and contributors.

Last July we published our first newsletter (so yes, technically this is a belated anniversary note), introducing our publication and sharing what we hoped to accomplish as a magazine.

I wrote these marginally over-wrought words at that time:

“The Utah Monthly will struggle and grapple with the meaning of our society and culture, as well as with the change and flux in both. We will attempt to peel back the layers of place (defined as broadly as possible), and sort through the ideas, cultures, habits, customs, quirks, houses, skate parks, landfills, roads, governments, and religions with tenacity, wonder, compassion, and honest analysis. The neatness and tidiness of many lawns and house-fronts belies the complexity of our life here. In reality all life is messy and complex, just perhaps even more strikingly so here as it lies in jagged juxtaposition, like our neighboring mountains to our neatly manicured narratives. We intend to ask ourselves over and over “What are we doing here?” and, “What does this place mean?””

With these words let’s look back and see how we started—and where we’re going.

More than a year and a half ago, my co-worker Tucker Morris and I decided it would be fun to start a magazine focused exclusively on the ideas, politics, and cultures of Utah. I was just coming off an overdose on national magazines and periodicals that, though brilliant and thought-provoking, left me feeling bereft of community—because I knew more about Washington than I did about Orem. We scaled our idea back to an online newsletter, and fortuitously discovered Substack (our current platform), which has made publishing our weekly newsletter incredibly easy.

We had no idea where this idea would take us—and we’re still not entirely sure—but we’ve been lucky enough in the past year to publish thought-provoking, timely, and enjoyable articles about Mormon subreddits, the intertwining of faith and politics, cinema during COVID, and the Utah Valley Parade of Homes—among many other topics. We’ve also been fortunate to hear from a wide range of Utahans, both current and former, and we’re excited to hear from even more as we continue on.

Over the past year, we’ve been privileged to work closely with Erika Barrett, Shawn Hall, Josh Stevenson, and many others who have contributed incredibly poignant and well-researched pieces which have honed and improved this newsletter. And most of all we’re deeply grateful for you, our readers (both those voluntarily and involuntarily subscribed). Your attention and thoughtfulness have inspired us to continue on—thank you.

Our mission is to strengthen local Utah communities and culture by fostering deeper understanding of local issues and situations, elevating important ideas and debates, and developing and showcasing local literary, artistic, and creative talent. In essence, borrowing from George Will’s idea of “statecraft as soulcraft,” we have imagined our content as placecraft and our mission as fostering placefulness.

Following are some of my favorite Utah Monthly articles from the last year—each a memorable piece of “placecraft.” The variety and depth of the individual perspectives expressed in these articles and poems is life-affirming, and assures us that we can only fully come to know the place we call home through another’s eyes. We watch others watching the landscape and begin to understand. Paralleling Mary Oliver’s beautifully intuitive line—“I know several lives worth living”—perhaps, we could add, we know several places worth living in.

Thanks again for reading and here’s to another year.

The Utah Monthly
Pandemic Poetry
April/May 2020 Pandemic-time is here a world is ending hopefully it’s not ours The second’s coming perhaps it’s yeats’ a sky falls societies distanced the curve we’ve flattened the fauci has been sciencing birx is balling the epidemiology is front and centered…
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The Utah Monthly
A Brief Theology of Fly Fishing
The other day on the Utah Fly Fishing Facebook page I came across this article from Hatch magazine. The author recounts a story in which he’s asked whether you should tie a fly on at the car, or wait till you get to the water. His answer is that you should tie your fly on at the car. Then the author presses a more fundamental issue: Why ask questions li……
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The Utah Monthly
Poetry: Worlds Without End
Yesterday I cried as I did my homework Not because it was difficult and not because I was stressed But rather because it was all more beautiful than I imagined My sandals were in the corner and I sat bare-foot in the center of the room Surrounded by carpet, initially, but extending the circumference there was a textured face of tan rock…
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The Utah Monthly
The Utah Valley Parade of Homes is Tragicomic
The Utah Valley Parade of Homes is something that happens only once a year for a few weeks, though it is an echo of something that happens all the time here. It is something so primal it doesn’t need to be explained—even on its official website. But, for the sake of clarity, I will elaborate. Essentially, certain “upscale” homes are selected, and you ge……
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The Utah Monthly
Highland Hollow Park
If you live in northern Utah County and own a dog or small child, chances are you’ve walked at least part of the Murdock Canal Trail. The 18-ish-mile trail runs from Clubhouse Dr. at Thanksgiving Point all the way down to 800 N. in Orem. It’s paved, multi-use, and has water and bathroom facilities every few miles; really the Cadillac of point-to-point t……
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The Utah Monthly
For My Mother
I want to share my spiritual journey of coming to find Heavenly Mother. Theology surrounding Heavenly Mother wasn’t always considered “fringe,” and it certainly isn’t destined to remain that way. I have had personal and profound experiences that have made Her a necessary component of my worship and a lens through which I view the world…
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The Utah Monthly
125 Years of Utah and the Movies — Part One: The Mormon Exploitation Film
A still from the 1911 Danish feature film A Victim of the Mormons. Within the past month, both the state of Utah and the medium of film turned 125 years old. On December 28, 1895, the inventors and photographers Louis and Auguste Lumiere ushered in the now ubiquitous art of projected film to a small, paying audience in the basement of the Grand Café in L……
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