Every Riven Thing

By Rothman, David J. | First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, February 2011 | Go to article overview

Every Riven Thing


Rothman, David J., First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life


BRIEFLY NOTED Every Riven Thing BY CHRISTIAN WIMAN FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 93 PAGES, $24

Christian Wiman is a poet of spiritual suffering in search of transfiguration. He makes no allegory of this impulse but tells it mostly straight, making him one of the preeminent devotional poets of any faith now writing in English. He has been famous for some time as a poet, critic, and editor (of Poetry, America's preeminent journal of poetry), but it is Every Riven Thing, his third volume of poems, that contains his strongest work to date.

Wiman has written eloquently in prose about falling passionately in love in his late thirties, his subsequent diagnosis with a rare cancer, and his rediscovery of faith. In the new poems we find a corresponding tempering of suffering with the work of love and the consciousness of joy. The best poems in Every Riven Thing - and the best ones are very good - now flash bright wings. Even in poems about ordinary experience, there is a shining sense of purpose that appeared less frequently in the past. …

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