Paul Swenson–Deceased

Photo by Michael Schoenfeld

Sunstone is sad to announce the passing of Paul Swenson.

A memorial service for Paul Swenson is scheduled Saturday February 18 at 11:00 am at the Twin Peaks ward house located at 5290 So. Wesley Rd. (approximately 1130 East) Murray, UT 84117

A great Sunstone supporter, Paul invariably sponsored at least two sessions in every Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium, covering topics from poetry to tattoos to Mormon erotica.

Paul frequently published both poetry and prose in Sunstone, Dialogue, Wilderness Interface Zone, and other venues. He was a news reporter for the Deseret News, a writer for The Salt Lake Observer, and editor of Utah Holiday Magazine. A book of his poetry, Iced at the Ward, Burned at the Stake: And Other Poems, was published by Signature Books.

His gregarious heart and wry intelligence will be missed.

It occurs to us that Paul may know the answer to the question he posed in the following poem, published in the current issue of Sunstone.



By Paul Swenson


Hey, Brother Golden,

what’s it like over there?

You ever share your coffee

with the other cowboys

’round that celestial fire?

Does it burn as fine

and new as you hoped

it would when you said

you couldn’t wait

‘til you were dead

to get the final clue—

as to whether

what you’d been

preachin’ all those

years was true?


They laugh in heaven?

Must do, since you

arrived. Accident

or irony connived

to kill you

in a car crash—

long after hot-

rodders splashed

mud on you,

drenched you good

at Temple Square.

Shook your cane,


“No respect

for Priesthood.”


You go blind

trying to find

the father

of that guy

who asked you

if you’d mind

keeping an eye

out for his dad

once you reached

the other side?

Well, was it a crime

or just your wit

you said it might

take time to look

all over hell?


Your genealogy

through Heber C.,

does it help

in heaven?

Odd you wear

the Kimball name,

yet nimbly merge

the sacred

and profane.

Miss the old days

when you were young?

Ways were rough

and rowdy—

and your tongue was


One comment

  1. David Briscoe says:

    Thanks, Sunstone, for publishing another one of Paul’s wonderful poems.
    Here’s something I posted today with the Salt Lake Tribune article:
    Paul Swenson, since my college days in Utah, has represented for me the very best of Utah Journalism.
    He was an inspiring advocate of the very best in Mormonism, Utah culture, Utah literature, good movies and good Blue Grass. A liberal Mormon study group he helped start in the 1960s kept many doubters tied to the faith.
    In addition to his poetry, he had completed a fact-based novel when he died and was looking for an agent and a publisher.
    As an editor, he was one of the best I have known and quite annoying really, because he could show lesser writers they weren’t as good as they thought.
    When Salt Lake City’s two newspapers failed to publish in 1975 a series Bill Beecham and I did for The Associated Press on Mormon church finances (even after the stories ironically won the top Utah print journalism award that year) Swenson had us write a follow-up piece for Utah Holiday.
    I loved Paul as a friend, a fellow struggler in Mormon culture, and for his craft, his honesty and his keen insights. Read his poems. Read the words he’s left us.
    Our dear friend is not really gone, just moving on to find more truth.

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