Poetry Happens Utah – March 2020 events and calls

Welcome to the Utah monthly edition of Poetry Happens, brought to you by Rock Canyon Poets. Each edition includes poetry happenings, calls, and other announcements coming up in Utah, with highlights specifically for Utah county. And tune in on KRCL RadioActive the first Monday of every month for announcements and feature poet reading!


UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah County

Rock Canyon Poets poetry reading & open mic every 2nd Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Pioneer Book in Provo, this month on March 10 featuring Natasha Sajé!

Every Thursday – Speak for Yourself spoken word open mic at Enliten Cafe in Provo, at 7:30 pm

Saturday Night Slam Series, check their Facebook page for monthly dates, from 7 – 9 PM at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center in Provo

UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah 

Poetry Reading with Utah Poet Laureate – Paisley Rekdal – Wed Mar 11 2020 at 05:30 pm at The Rio Theatre, 210 S Main St, Helper, UT

Alen Hamza and Ceridwen Hall – The University of Utah Guest Writers Series presents an evening of poetry with authors Alen Hamza and Ceridwen Hall at Finch Lane Gallery at the Art Barn, Salt Lake City, Thursday, March 19, 2020 at 07:00 pm – 08:00 pm.

City Art Reading Series, typically the first three Wednesdays of every month at the Salt Lake City Downtown Library. Check their Facebook Events page for updates.

Bountiful Open Mic is a music/poetry open mic held the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month at 8 pm; 55 North Main in Bountiful.

Sugar Slam at Wasatch Theater Co. in Salt Lake City at 8 PM.  Check Facebook page for current dates.

Poetry in the Park Registration Deadline: Feb. 20, 2020. The 11th annual Poetry In the Park (PIP) workshop will be held Friday March 6th in Zion Park. Rob Carney, Utah Valley University English Department, will conduct the workshop. See PIP for workshop details. For PIP registration, go to the Zion Park Workshop Registration site.

Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous – 3 Stages Western Music & Cowboy Poetry – Open Mic Stage March 6 – 8, 2020 at Mountain Crest High School in Hyrum, Utah.

Haikus, Modernism and Stanton MacDonald-Wright – “Haiga Portfolio” (1965-1966) blends Eastern and Western influences, pairing vibrant modernist paintings with haikus written by some of Japan’s most influential poets. Presented by Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan UT, exhibit runs from August 24 – June 30, 2020. 

CALLS FOR POEMS (Utah-based)

2020 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry – Manuscripts must be in English and should be between 48 and 100 typed pages. Fee: $25. Deadline: April 15.

Provo Poetry POEMBALL Machine – Send in up to 10 short poems to be included in the POEMBALL Machines in Provo and Salt Lake City.

Utah Life call for poems: May/June 2020 issue will be poems on the theme of “Butterflies and Flowers.” Deadline March 1.

Western Humanities Review – open to submissions year round.

For more national submission calls, visit https://trishhopkinson.com.


If you have an event or announcement related to poetry in Utah, please contact us here and we will include it in our next edition.

Call for poems, prose, & art – Southern Quill, DEADLINE: March 9, 2020

The Southern Quill is an undergraduate literary journal edited by students at Dixie State University. Published annually since 1951, the journal has been in circulation for more than half a century. They welcome exceptional and polished submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual arts from writers and artists residing in Utah and Clark County, Nevada.

Submission Guidelines

  • We do not accept previously published work, regardless of format or circulation.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions so long as you withdraw your submission if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • Submitters between the ages of 12-17 must submit all categories of work to the Young Adult section.
  • Please include a short biography of 50 to 100 words with your submission. We will include it in our publication should we accept your work.
  • Upon publication, all rights will revert back to the author.
  • ​SQ contributors will receive two copies of the issue in which their work appears as compensation.

Click here to submit

SUBMISSION FEE: None

PAYMENT: SQ contributors will receive two copies of the issue in which their work appears as compensation.

FORMS: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual arts

Poetry reading + open mic featuring Kimberly Johnson – Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 @ 6:30pm

Rock Canyon Poets and Pioneer Book are please to present Utah poet Kimberly Johnson. The event begins with an open mic at 6:30pm and runs until 8:00pm at Pioneer Book (450 W. Center) in historic downtown Provo on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Johnson will read her work and present a poetry writing prompt.

Kimberly Johnson is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Uncommon Prayer, and of book-length translations of Virgil and Hesiod. Recipient of grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, she has recent work in New England Review, Harvard Review, and The Cincinnati Review. She teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at BYU.

Johnson visits Pioneer Book as a guest of the Rock Canyon Poets and Pioneer Book. The reading and open mic are open to the general public.

For more information, contact the Rock Canyon Poets, rockcanyonpoets@gmail.com.

Where: Pioneer Book – 450 West Center Street, Provo

When: Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Poetry Happens Utah – February 2020 events and calls

Welcome to the Utah monthly edition of Poetry Happens, brought to you by Rock Canyon Poets. Each edition includes poetry happenings, calls, and other announcements coming up in Utah, with highlights specifically for Utah county. And tune in on KRCL RadioActive the first Monday of every month for announcements and feature poet reading!


UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah County

Rock Canyon Poets poetry reading & open mic every 2nd Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Pioneer Book in Provo, this month on February 11 featuring Kimberly Johnson!

Every Thursday – Speak for Yourself spoken word open mic at Enliten Cafe in Provo, at 7:30 pm

Saturday Night Slam Series, check their Facebook page for monthly dates, from 7 – 9 PM at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center in Provo

UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah 

Poetry Series: Don Bogen and Paisley Rekdal – Presented by Westminster College at Kim Adamson Alumni House – Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Monday, Feb. 3 at 7:00 pm. 

A Night of Poetry, featuring David Whyte – Presented by Jung Society of Utah at Libby Gardner Hall – University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Friday, Feb. 7 at 7:00 pm. Single tickets and meet and greet from $29 – $125.

Better Days 2020 – Official Gold Room Commemoration with Governor and Mrs. Herbert, Featuring Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal at the Utah State Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 12 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Free tickets available to the public.

Robert Lopez & Patricia Smith – The University of Utah Guest Writers Series presents an evening of poetry with authors Robert Lopez and Patricia Smith at Finch Lane Gallery at the Art Barn, Salt Lake City, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 at 07:00 pm – 08:00 pm. Q&A on Friday, Feb. 14 at 12:00 pm. 

City Art Reading Series, typically the first three Wednesdays of every month at the Salt Lake City Downtown Library. Check their Facebook Events page for updates.

Bountiful Open Mic is a music/poetry open mic held the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month at 8 pm; 55 North Main in Bountiful.

Sugar Slam at Wasatch Theater Co. in Salt Lake Cityat 8 PM.  Check Facebook page for current dates.

Poetry in the Park Registration Deadline: Feb. 20, 2020. The 11th annual Poetry In the Park (PIP) workshop will be held Friday March 6th in Zion Park. Rob Carney, Utah Valley University English Department, will conduct the workshop. See PIP for workshop details. For PIP registration, go to the Zion Park Workshop Registration site.

Poetry Workshop – Lifelong Learning with instructor Danielle Susi, Saturdays from Feb. 22 through March 7, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. Tuition: $89 + Special Fee: $5 = $94.

Poetry Out Loud Competitions – Feb. 27 at 7:00 pm, at Marmalade and Feb. 29 at 10:00 am at Herriman High School. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have partnered with the Utah Arts & Museums Arts Education Program to support Poetry Out Loud, which encourages Utah’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance.

Hibernian Poetry Night, featuring Irish poets – Presented by The Hibernian Society of Utah at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Saturday, February 29 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Haikus, Modernism and Stanton MacDonald-Wright – “Haiga Portfolio” (1965-1966) blends Eastern and Western influences, pairing vibrant modernist paintings with haikus written by some of Japan’s most influential poets. Presented by Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan UT, exhibit runs from August 24 – June 30, 2020. 

CALLS FOR POEMS (Utah-based)

Red Butte Garden Call for Poetry – 6th Annual Spring Poetry Contest. Poets of all ages are invited to enter original, spring-inspired poems from January 6 through February 15.

2020 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry – Manuscripts must be in English and should be between 48 and 100 typed pages. Fee: $25. Deadline: April 15.

Provo Poetry POEMBALL Machine – Send in up to 10 short poems to be included in the POEMBALL Machines in Provo and Salt Lake City.

Utah Life call for poems: May/June 2020 issue will be poems on the theme of “Butterflies and Flowers.” Deadline March 1.

Western Humanities Review – open to submissions year round.

For more national submission calls, visit https://trishhopkinson.com.


If you have an event or announcement related to poetry in Utah, please contact us here and we will include it in our next edition.

Poetry Happens Utah – January 2020 events and calls

Welcome to the Utah monthly edition of Poetry Happens, brought to you by Rock Canyon Poets. Each edition will include poetry happenings and other announcements coming up in Utah, with highlights specifically for Utah county. And tune in on KRCL Radioactive the first Wednesday of every month for announcements and feature poet reading!


UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah County

SPECIAL EVENT: Rock Canyon Poets poetry reading & open mic every 2nd Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Pioneer Book in Provo, this month on January 14, Poetry Open Mic + Book Launch Party for the 5th volume of Orogeny, an annual collection of poems by Rock Canyon Poets.

Every Thursday – Speak for Yourself spoken word open mic at Enliten Cafe in Provo, at 7:30 pm

Saturday Night Slam Series, check their Facebook page for monthly dates, from 7 – 9 PM at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center in Provo

UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah 

Kimiko Hahn and Lindsay Lusby Reading – The University of Utah Guest Writers Series presents an evening of poetry with authors Kimiko Hahn and Lindsay Lusby at Finch Lane Gallery at the Art Barn, Salt Lake City UT. Jan 16, 2020 at 07:00 pm – 08:00 pm (Thu).

Jacqueline Balderrama | Nectar and Small – Jacqueline Balderrama will read from and sign her new poetry chapbook, Nectar and Small. Presented by The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City UT. Jan 30, 2020 at 07:00 pm (Thu).

City Art Reading Series, typically the first three Wednesdays of every month at the Salt Lake City Downtown Library. Check their Facebook Events page for updates.

Bountiful Open Mic is a music/poetry open mic held the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month at 8 pm; 55 North Main in Bountiful

Sugar Slam every 2nd Thursday at Watchtower Cafe in SLC at 8 PM.  Open mic beforehand. Dec. 12.

Haikus, Modernism and Stanton MacDonald-Wright – “Haiga Portfolio” (1965-1966) blends Eastern and Western influences, pairing vibrant modernist paintings with haikus written by some of Japan’s most influential poets. Presented by Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan UT, exhibit runs from August 24 – June 30, 2020. 

CALLS FOR POEMS (Utah-based)

Provo Poetry Contest – free to enter, cash prizes! Deadline: Feb. 1, 2020. Judge is Star Coulbrooke, 1st place – $100, 2nd place – $50, plus finalists will be displayed in historic downtown Provo during National Poetry Month and the Provo Art Stroll in April 2020.

Utah Life call for poems: May/June 2020 issue will be poems on the theme of “Butterflies and Flowers.”

Western Humanities Review – open to submissions year round.

For more national submission calls, visit https://trishhopkinson.com.


If you have an event or announcement related to poetry in Utah, please contact us here and we will include it in our next edition.

Poetry Open Mic + Book Launch Party, Tuesday, Jan. 14 @ 6:30 – Pioneer Book, Provo

The Rock Canyon Poets and Pioneer Book announce the release party of Orogeny, the fifth anniversary collection of poems by local Utah County poets along with an open mic on Tuesday, January 14, 2019 at 6:30 pm.

Orogeny is the fifth annual printed anthology by Rock Canyon Poets members. Contributing poets receive a free copy and additional copies will be available to the public for $10 at the event. The event begins with an open mic, after which, Rock Canyon Poets will read their work from the anthology. Light refreshments will be served. Open to the public. No ticket necessary.

“For an excellent overview of today’s literary Utah, Orogeny is the best source I’ve seen. The Red Rock Canyon Poets have assembled a splendid, first rate collection and even a single read through will convince the reader that all is indeed hale and hearty in Utah’s literary scene. This is a quite delightful and delightfully readable anthology, one of the very best literary magazines I’ve seen this year: it does Utah proud. Bravo y ole’.”

—David Lee, Utah’s first poet laureate and author of So Quietly the Earth

“Orogeny, the fifth anthology of the Rock Canyon poets, breaks through the trite tropes and stereotypes about Utah to explore the undiscovered nooks and crags in our mountain ranges. Friends of form will delight in the prowess and precision of Tacey Atsitty’s opening round of sonnets, whereas slam poetry enthusiasts will find a brother in Chris Atkin’s soul-wrenching poems about self-love and resilience. What I appreciate most about this anthology is the way it creates space for even the most tattered parts of us. In ‘Permu-gay-tions,’ Aaron Gates flips a canonical biblical verse to ask “Shall not man lie with man?” In ‘Birthmark,’ Laura West reclaims a piece of herself shamed by a bully, and in ‘I Remain Affectionately Yours,’ Marianne Hale Harding ugly cries in a Wal-Mart after a divorce. In Oregeny, may we all find a home, another healing and birth.”

—Willy Palomo, Chief Editor of La Piscucha Magazine

For more information, contact the Rock Canyon Poets, rockcanyonpoets@gmail.com.

Where: Pioneer Book – 450 West Center Street, Provo

When: Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Rock Canyon Poets boasts diverse membership, ranging from 18 to 70+ years in age with many backgrounds–including literary journal founders, editors, ex-military, business professionals, a playwright, and a periodontist.  Individually, they have received several awards and been published in magazines, anthologies, journals, chapbooks, and full-length books of poetry. Rock Canyon Poets offer poetry with the tactile clarity of tin-can messages through fuzzy strings to the ears of an audience. These poems are tumbleweeds in semi-truck grills. They get stuck in your teeth, build bridges of spun sugar, and make it possible to mount a camel without a sturdy ladder.

Co-founded by Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen and Trish Hopkinson in January, 2015, Rock Canyon Poets was established to develop camaraderie among Utah Valley poets, provide consistent workshopping and reading opportunities, and promote the disciplined study of writing poetry as a serious art form. Members meet twice a month at Pioneer Book in historic downtown Provo. The group sponsors poetry readings and an open mic on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Membership is by invitation or portfolio submission only.

For more information, contact the Rock Canyon Poets, rockcanyonpoets@gmail.com.

Poetry Happens Utah – December 2019 events and calls

Welcome to the new Utah monthly edition of Poetry Happens, brought to you by Rock Canyon Poets. Each edition will include poetry happenings and other announcements coming up in Utah, with highlights specifically for Utah county. And tune in on KRCL Radioactive the first Wednesday of every month for announcements and feature poet reading!


UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah County

Rock Canyon Poets poetry reading & open mic every 2nd Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Pioneer Book in Provo, this month on December 10.

Every Thursday – Speak for Yourself spoken word open mic at Enliten Cafe in Provo, at 7:30 pm

Saturday Night Slam Series, check their Facebook page for monthly dates, from 7 – 9 PM at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center in Provo

UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah 

City Art Reading Series, typically the first three Wednesdays of every month at the Salt Lake City Downtown Library. Check their Facebook Events page for updates.

Bountiful Open Mic is a music/poetry open mic held the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month at 8 pm; 55 North Main in Bountiful

Writers Rebel SLC poetry reading in partnership with The Wanting to Die Poetry Club: Tue. Dec. 10, 2019 at 06:00 pm to 08:00 pm; Urban Arts Gallery – Utah Arts Alliance, 116 S Rio Grande St, SLC. Suggested donation.

Mount Olympus Center Poetry: Thurs., Dec. 5 & 19 from 1:00-2:30
Come read, discuss and share poetry. 1635 East Murray-Holladay Rd
Millcreek, UT 84117.

Buddy Wakefield spoken word artist at Rye Diner & Drinks 249 S. 500 E., SLC; Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Doors at 6 pm, show at 6:30 pm. Ticketed event.

Sugar Slam every 2nd Thursday at Watchtower Cafe in SLC at 8 PM.  Open mic beforehand. Dec. 12.

This Bird of Dawning: The Christmas Story told through Music, Poetry, and Mask. Now in its eleventh year, This Bird of Dawning has become a Salt Lake City Favorite. A stunningly beautiful telling of the Nativity Story. December 20 – 21, 2019, Eccles Theater in SLC. Ticketed event. Check site for times.

Sam DeLeeuw and David Anderson (Cowboy Poetry/Music): Camp Floyd Christmas on December 13 at 7pm. Fairfield, 22 miles southwest of Lehi on State Route 73. 18035 W. 1540 N. Fairfield, UT.

Haikus, Modernism and Stanton MacDonald-Wright – “Haiga Portfolio” (1965-1966) blends Eastern and Western influences, pairing vibrant modernist paintings with haikus written by some of Japan’s most influential poets. Presented by Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan UT, exhibit runs from August 24 – June 30, 2020. 

CALLS FOR POEMS (Utah-based)

Provo Poetry Contest – free to enter, cash prizes! Deadline: Feb. 1, 2020. Judge is Star Coulbrooke, 1st place – $100, 2nd place – $50, plus finalists will be displayed in historic downtown Provo during National Poetry Month and the Provo Art Stroll in April 2020.

Red Rock Writers Chaparall Poetry Contest – several themes and prizes. Check site for details. Entry fee $3/poem. Prizes $25 – $200 per category. Deadline: Dec. 2, 2019.

Peculiar Journal – Utah-based literary journal for LGBTQ+ writers and artists. Deadline: Dec. 8, 2019.

Utah Life call for poems: extended the deadline for poems on the theme of “Love and Romance” to Nov. 18. That collection of poetry will publish in our January/February 2020 issue. Following in our March/April 2020 issue will be poems on the theme of “The Winter/Spring Face-Off.” That deadline is Jan. 1.

Western Humanities Review – open to submissions year round.

For more national submission calls, visit https://trishhopkinson.com.


If you have an event or announcement related to poetry in Utah, please contact us here and we will include it in our next edition.

Poetry Happens Utah – November 2019 events and calls

Welcome to the new Utah monthly edition of Poetry Happens, brought to you by Rock Canyon Poets. Each edition will include poetry happenings and other announcements coming up in Utah, with highlights specifically for Utah county. And tune in on KRCL Radioactive the first Wednesday of every month for announcements and feature poet reading!


UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah County

Rock Canyon Poets poetry reading & open mic every 2nd Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at Pioneer Book in Provo, this month on November 12 Inspired Book Release Party & Open Mic Night.

Every Thursday – Speak for Yourself spoken word open mic at Enliten Cafe in Provo, at 7:30 pm

Saturday Night Slam Series, check their Facebook page for monthly dates, from 7 – 9 PM at the BYU Wilkinson Student Center in Provo

UPCOMING EVENTS for Utah 

City Art Reading Series, typically the first three Wednesdays of every month at the Salt Lake City Downtown Library. Check their Facebook Events page for updates.

Poetry Series: Kara Van De Graaf and Mahtem Shiferraw – Free readings begin at 7 p.m. in the Kim T. Adamson Alumni House on the Westminster College campus, 1840 South 1300 East, and are followed by book signings and receptions.

Mount Olympus Center Poetry: Thurs., Nov. 7 & 21 1:00-2:30
Come read, discuss and share poetry. 1635 East Murray-Holladay Rd
Millcreek, UT 84117.

Kanab Writers Conference Nov. 7 – 9. Registration is open now.

Katherine Coles and Matty Layne Glasgow at Weller Book Works at Trolley Square in SLC, Nov 11, 2019 at 06:30 pm (Mon).

Markay Brown will give an additional reading of Planted in a Storm at the St. George Library on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at 2:00 pm. Library is located at 88 West 100 South in St. George.

Susan Briante and Aimee Parkison Reading – Presented by University of Utah Guest Writers Series and Hivemind Bookclub of Salt Lake City at Finch Lane Gallery at the Art Barn, Salt Lake City UT. Nov 14, 2019 at 07:00 pm – 08:00 pm (Thu)

Sugar Slam every 2nd Thursday at Watchtower Cafe in SLC at 8 PM. Sugar Slam fting Enan Whitby! Open mic beforehand. Nov. 14.

CALLS FOR POEMS (Utah-based)

Provo Poetry POEMBALL Machine – Send in up to 10 short poems to be included in the POEMBALL Machines in Provo and SLC.

Peculiar Journal – Utah-based literary journal for LGBTQ+ writers and artists. Deadline: Dec. 8 2019.

Utah Life call for poems: extended the deadline for poems on the theme of “Love and Romance” to Nov. 18. That collection of poetry will publish in our January/February 2020 issue. Following in our March/April 2020 issue will be poems on the theme of “The Winter/Spring Face-Off.” That deadline is Jan. 1.

Western Humanities Review – open to submissions year round.

For more national submission calls, visit https://trishhopkinson.com.


If you have an event or announcement related to poetry in Utah, please contact us here and we will include it in our next edition.

Inspired Book Release Party & Open Mic Night, Tues. Nov. 12 @ 6:30pm

The Rock Canyon Poets and Pioneer Book, in participation with the Utah Humanities Book Festival, announces the release party of “Inspired,” a community poetry writing experience and open mic on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 6:30 pm. The event is open to the public and no ticket is required.

“Inspired” is a printed anthology of local Utah poets who recently participated in a free community poetry workshop on persona poems (poems using the imagined voice of another person, place, or thing). Each contributing poet receives a free copy and additional copies will be available to the public for $5 at the event. Poets will read their work from the anthology, after which, the open mic will begin and audience members are invited to read a poem they have written or a favorite by another poet. Light refreshments will be served.

Where: Pioneer Book – 450 West Center Street, Provo

When: Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Rock Canyon Poets and Pioneer Book host poetry open mics the second Tuesday of each month.

For more information, contact the Rock Canyon Poets, rockcanyonpoets@gmail.com.

Provo Great Books Club: Interview with founder Carl Eric Scott

The literary community in Utah County is diverse and vibrant–from open mics and reading series to poetry groups like Rock Canyon Poets as well as local chapters of the League of Utah Writers and the Utah State Poetry Society. I was excited to hear about the Provo Great Books Club from founder and UVU professor Carl Eric Scott, so I interviewed him to learn more.

The Provo Great Books Club is free to join. You can contact them on their Facebook page or by emailing carl.eric.scott@gmail.com.

HOPKINSON: How/why was the book club originally started? 

SCOTT: My own graduate training had a foundation in the Great Books-only approach of St. John’s College.  I went to the St. John’s Santa Fe campus for their Graduate Institute master’s degree, and then went on to get a PhD. in political science.  While teaching a constitutional law class at UVU as an adjunct, I had a student, Samuel Corry, who had heard me talk about the Great Books approach.  He wanted to try it out; I also met several BYU students at the time, through the political theorist Ralph Hancock, who had a similar interest.  We took it from there, with a lot of leadership from Samuel.

HOPKINSON: Who can participate? 

SCOTT: Anyone who can make it to our meetings, which take place in members’ homes.  Typically, our membership has consisted of 1/3 UVU students, 1/3 BYU, 1/3 community members.  Right now, we’re mostly community members connected to BYU, or students there.  We’ve never had anyone younger than college-age participate, but we’re open in theory to high-school age folks.  Our group has had success so far in conducting conversations in which non-religious persons, and persons from different religious backgrounds, dialogue well with one another when religion-related topics come up.

HOPKINSON: How do you select the books? 

SCOTT: There are official lists of the Great Books, and we try to remain within these, usually trying to balance between literature, philosophy, political philosophy, and more rarely, history or theology.  We try to pick books that complement one another, such as Virgil’s Aeneid, and the first books of Livy’s history.  We’ve read lesser-known books by authors who belong to these lists, such as the latest Solzhenitsyn book to come into English translation, or a Ralph Ellison essay, or Dante’s little book of love poetry, La Vita Nuova.  And we’ve read one contemporary philosopher, Chantal Delsol, who unfortunately will probably never meet the standard “canonical requirements” for Great Books status, due to her not being widely known.  Those requirements are really hard to set for works from the last 150 years, but generally, the idea is that a Great Book is one that tends to win the contest of popularity over time, and that future ones keep talking about.  It is a book that lends itself to being read multiple times in one’s life—it has a depth that makes returning to it worthwhile.  It is a book that deals with a number of perennially-discussed ideas, and all of these ideas factor into the “meaning of life” question.  You can learn more about the idea from the St. John’s College website, which also features a list of Great Books for the Eastern Classics program at Santa Fe.

I usually provide the group with two or three suggested thematic courses that will run for a third of a year, and then we vote.  We try to balance the interests of different members–for example, knowing that a majority of members wanted to concentrate on philosophic works this fall, we made sure to read a couple of Jane Austen books in August, to keep our more literary members happy.

HOPKINSON: What’s the best part of being in a book club?

SCOTT: The best thing I’d say is living, at least in part, the literary and philosophic life, and all the benefits that come with that. Wisdom “is a thing,” and you get closer to it by reading and discussing these kinds of books.  And you’re so much more likely to get through them if you know you will be discussing them with your fellow book-club members.  But one big added benefit is that you get to know the folks in your group, and often in a deeper way than you would through other activities.


Carl Eric Scott has a PhD. in political science from Fordham University, and has taught political theory, American politics, and Great Books liberal arts, at a number of institutions, including Washington and Lee University, the University of Virginia, and St. John’s College, Santa Fe, before coming to teach at UVU. He has written on politics, constitutionalism, film, and rock music for the National Review Online blog “Postmodern Conservative.” He is the co-editor of Totalitarianism on Screen: The Art and Politics of ‘The Lives of Others’, published by The University of Kentucky Press, and the author of The Five Conceptions of American Liberty, an essay published by the journal National Affairs. His dissertation, The Inconstant Democratic Character, compared Plato’s and Tocqueville’s discussions of democratic society.

Trish Hopkinson is a poet, blogger, and advocate for the literary arts. You can find her online at SelfishPoet.com and provisionally in Utah, where she runs the regional poetry group Rock Canyon Poets and folds poems to fill Poemball machines for Provo Poetry. Her poetry has been published in several lit mags and journals, including Tinderbox, Glass Poetry Press, and The Penn Review; her third chapbook Footnote was published by Lithic Press in 2017.