Poet Christian Wiman has played many roles in the literary world. As editor of Poetry Magazine, he shepherded the work of other poets. At Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, he helps students develop their own ideas on creation in the context of faith and doubt. He’s served as a translator of Osip Mandelstam’s poems, and as a curator of many others in collections on joy and a retrospective from Poetry Magazine. He’s husband to fellow poet Danielle Chapman.
On February 4th, he’ll be speaking on the Upper West Side, hosted by Redeemer West Side Church for a reading and talk on topics of mortality and the divine, faith and doubt, which are explored in Wiman’s first book of poetry in five years, Survival Is A Style (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux).
In recent years, he’s become known for prose, including My Bright Abyss, a meditation on his awakening to faith as he fell in love with his wife, and what was revealed when a cancer diagnosis intruded on that season. His most recent release, He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, The Faith of Art, was largely prose, full of first-hand stories of poets he’s known, as well as his own, all illuminating the relationship between faith and art.
But Wiman’s original role is poet: the root and through-line of his career. The force of his poetry is inescapable even in his prose, and he’s one of the country’s most read, and most celebrated, poets: his last collection of poems, Once In The West, was one of the New York Times’ top ten poetry books of 2014, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
These themes, Wiman believes, strike at the core of who we are as humans. “Let us remember that in the end we go to poetry for one reason,” he says, “so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.”
Guests can register for the talk, and pre-order copies of Survival Is A Style, at https://survivalisastyle.