In 1888, Orson F. Whitney declared that Mormons "will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own." This quotation has since become a watchword for serious Mormon writers and poets over the intervening century. Mormons everywhere have a special connection to the arts because of the faith's encouragement of worship through song. Today, many LDS general conference talks draw from analogies based on some form of artistic expression, reinforcing the impact art and poetics have had on Mormon thought over the past two centuries.
Hal Robert Boyd and Susan Easton Black have gathered just one small piece of this rich LDS literary culture in their Psalms of Nauvoo. Boyd is a Brigham Young University graduate and is currently a JD candidate at Yale Law School. Black is an emeritus professor of Church History at Brigham Young University, where she taught for decades. Over the years, Black has spoken and published on a number of topics related to the Nauvoo period of Mormon history. In this collection, Boyd and Black set out to present poetry written "by Latter-day Saints from 1839 to 1846. Preference was given to poetry that focused on the history and citizenry of the city of Nauvoo, especially the events surrounding the life, ministry, and death of the Prophet Joseph Smith" (xvii).