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Christian Wiman


Born on August 31, 1966, in West Texas, poet, editor, and essayist Christian Wiman earned his BA from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, in 1988.

Wiman has authored four books of poetry: Once in the West (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), Hard Night (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), and The Long Home (Story Line Press, 1998). He has also published a memoir, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013); a collection of Osip Mandelstam translations, Stolen Air (Ecco, 2012); and a collection of essays, Ambition and Survival: On Becoming a Poet (Copper Canyon Press, 2007).

In 2005, on his thirty-ninth birthday, Wiman was diagnosed with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, an incurable form of blood cancer. Wiman’s poetry and prose frequently address the disease and his response to it, as well as questions of theology and faith, life and death.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson writes, “[Wiman’s] poetry and his scholarship have a purifying urgency that is rare in this world. This puts him at the very source of theology, and enables him to say new things in timeless language, so that the reader’s surprise and assent are one and the same.”

A noted essayist and editor, Wiman is also widely known for his tenure as editor of Poetry magazine, from 2003 to 2013.

Wiman’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Wallace Stegner Fellowship and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from North Central College. He has taught at Stanford University, where he served as Jones Lecturer of poetry; Northwestern University; and the Prague School of Economics. He is currently a senior lecturer in religion and literature at Yale University and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.



Once in the West (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)
Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)
Hard Night (Copper Canyon Press, 2005)
The Long Home (Story Line Press, 1998)


My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)
Stolen Air (Ecco, 2012)
Ambition and Survival: On Becoming a Poet (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)

Christian Wiman

By This Poet


Hard Night

What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark
this difficult tree?

What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?

The sky whitens, goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.

What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.

from One Time

2. 2047 Grace Street

But the world is more often refuge
than evidence, comfort and covert
for the flinching will, rather than the sharp
particulate instants through which God's being burns
into ours. I say God and mean more 
than the bright abyss that opens in that word.
I say world and mean less
than the abstract oblivion of atoms
out of which every intact thing emerges,
into which every intact thing finally goes.
I do not know how to come closer to God
except by standing where a world is ending
for one man. It is still dark,
and for an hour I have listened
to the breathing of the woman I love beyond
my ability to love. Praise to the pain
scalding us toward each other, the grief
beyond which, please God, she will live
and thrive. And praise to the light that is not
yet, the dawn in which one bird believes,
crying not as if there had been no night
but as if there were no night in which it had not been.

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