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A vibrant new collection from one of America's most talented young poets Every Riven Thing is Christian Wiman’s first collection in seven years, and rarely has a book of poetry so borne the stamp of necessity. Whether in stark, haiku-like descriptions of a cancer ward, surrealistic depictions of a social order coming apart, or fluent, defiant outpourings of praise, Wiman pu A vibrant new collection from one of America's most talented young poets Every Riven Thing is Christian Wiman’s first collection in seven years, and rarely has a book of poetry so borne the stamp of necessity. Whether in stark, haiku-like descriptions of a cancer ward, surrealistic depictions of a social order coming apart, or fluent, defiant outpourings of praise, Wiman pushes his language and forms until they break open, revealing startling new truths within. The poems are joyful and sorrowful at the same time, abrasive and beautiful, densely physical and credibly mystical. They attest to the human hunger to feel existence, even at its most harrowing, and the power of art to make our most intense experiences not only apprehensible but transfiguring.


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A vibrant new collection from one of America's most talented young poets Every Riven Thing is Christian Wiman’s first collection in seven years, and rarely has a book of poetry so borne the stamp of necessity. Whether in stark, haiku-like descriptions of a cancer ward, surrealistic depictions of a social order coming apart, or fluent, defiant outpourings of praise, Wiman pu A vibrant new collection from one of America's most talented young poets Every Riven Thing is Christian Wiman’s first collection in seven years, and rarely has a book of poetry so borne the stamp of necessity. Whether in stark, haiku-like descriptions of a cancer ward, surrealistic depictions of a social order coming apart, or fluent, defiant outpourings of praise, Wiman pushes his language and forms until they break open, revealing startling new truths within. The poems are joyful and sorrowful at the same time, abrasive and beautiful, densely physical and credibly mystical. They attest to the human hunger to feel existence, even at its most harrowing, and the power of art to make our most intense experiences not only apprehensible but transfiguring.

30 review for Every Riven Thing: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Broussard

    Wow. Cautions first: some language. Basically, here's a litmus test: if you can spend ten minutes in a store decorated by Thomas Kinkade without wanting to put a chair or small person through a wall, you may not like this book. If you can have a sober, intelligent conversation with a man about his imminent death and remain unaffected by it, you will be unimpressed. If you use the English language to convey points the way the federal government uses money to fix the public school system (just use Wow. Cautions first: some language. Basically, here's a litmus test: if you can spend ten minutes in a store decorated by Thomas Kinkade without wanting to put a chair or small person through a wall, you may not like this book. If you can have a sober, intelligent conversation with a man about his imminent death and remain unaffected by it, you will be unimpressed. If you use the English language to convey points the way the federal government uses money to fix the public school system (just use more until something gets better) then this book will downright annoy you. But if you don't fit these categories then this book may well level you like Hiroshima. It's hard to maintain cotton-candy illusions about the world in the face of a reality so stark as terminal cancer. It's hard to see any real beauty if you keep your eyes shut for fear of catching a glimpse of something that isn't beautiful. This book, to steal from N. D. Wilson and Jeffers, is beautiful as a forest in flame, the sky merciless blue and the earth merciless black. And there's nowhere to hide. But Christian Wiman's main topic is not death. It's rarely even mentioned. No, his topic is life, and its wonder, life, and its absurdities, life, and its approaching end. The book is full of lines such as the following: I loved his ten demented chickens and the hell-eyed dog, the mailbox shaped like a huge green gun. I loved the eyesore opulence of his five partial cars... (which is in my opinion one of the best opening lines ever written for a poem) And the engine-eyed atheists screaming reason It should, while evoking eternity, cry time, like a priest at meat. his antic frantic penny-ante-Ahab stabs of madness two cloudminded miles over Iowa and made of the air an unguent made of them A shadow on the water soft as thought rock's archaic ache an inchoate incarnate thought Welcome to the hell of having everything. and so, so many others. And these are biopsies, snippets extracted to be studied, not the overarching bodies (how unmodern a poet, to write poems about things). This is a man who writes, not like Dumas, not like Chesterton, birthing brilliance and trusting it to raise itself, nor like Lewis, ever forgetful of the words he had written. This is a man that writes with the desperation born out of a dying desire to leave one lasting impression on this earth beyond his tomb, a man that writes as if far more than merely his life were resting on his words, a man who bestows upon every ink-splash on the page more tumultuous meaning than most poets could wrestingly extract from their own lives. Facing death. To illustrate, I'll leave you with two final quotes, one of them a complete poem. 2047 Grace Street (excerpt) 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. The Mind of Dying (entire) God, let me give you now this mind of dying fevering me back into consciousness of all I lack and of that consciousness becoming proud. There are keener griefs than God. They come quietly, and in plain daylight, leaving us with nothing, and the means to feel it. My God my grief forgive my grief tamed in language to a fear that I can bear. Make of my anguish more than I can make. Lord, hear my prayer.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annalise Nakoneczny

    I read the majority of these out loud to myself, and every word sounded good coming out of my mouth. 10/10 would recommend.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I got Every Riven Thing: Poems along with three other slim poetry volumes from Farrar, Strauss from a newspaper colleague of mine who had no intention of reviewing them. I read two others first, and didn’t like them much at all, so I put this aside and it’s only an accident I ever picked it up again, especially with such a foreboding cover. But it is great poetry. I loved it. Beautiful words, beautiful syntax, and also solemn and serious, even though the rhyme and rhythm make it playful at times I got Every Riven Thing: Poems along with three other slim poetry volumes from Farrar, Strauss from a newspaper colleague of mine who had no intention of reviewing them. I read two others first, and didn’t like them much at all, so I put this aside and it’s only an accident I ever picked it up again, especially with such a foreboding cover. But it is great poetry. I loved it. Beautiful words, beautiful syntax, and also solemn and serious, even though the rhyme and rhythm make it playful at times. He chosen theme is often death but there’s plenty of other stuff – characters, phenomenon, nature, love. It seems Wiman wrote these poems in response to being diagnosed with some illness. I don't actually know what illness nor do I care, but just for background that does seem important to understanding where the poems come from. He often employs end and internal rhyme, which I mostly liked. Here the first lines of “From a Window.” It’s not one of my favorites, but still, here goes. Incurable and unbelieving in any truth but the truth of grieving, I saw a tree inside a tree rise kaleidoscopically as if the leaves had livelier ghosts. I pressed my face as close … Many of the poems have to do with God and belief and I don’t believe in God but that didn’t keep me from enjoying them and wishing that were a real consolation, even though in “Hammer is the Prayer,” Wiman claims that God is no consolation. Along with not believing in God, I don’t believe that God is no consolation, but hey! enough about me! In additon to enjoying these poems I felt I could learn from them as a poet, how the lines broke, the rhymes, the small liberties. My favorite poems include “Dipped Into Frenzy” and “Like a Dog Existence,” which are part of a sequence called “Not Altogether Gone,” which you can read here: http://chronicle.com/blogs/arts/monda... I also liked “Dust Devil” and “To Grasp at the Mercury Minnows Are.” I couldn’t find those, though, so here are - “Five Houses Down” from the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/poet... and “It Takes Particular Clicks” from Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2210851/

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Earlier on, I was prepared to rate this higher. Some of the earlier poems just blew me away. But then I hit a patch of WTF poems that left me clueless ("Do You Remember the Rude Nudists"?). In particular, I had issues with "The Reservoir," which I read several times. It seems like it's meant to be a significant poem in the collection, but I just couldn't crack it. Part of this frustrated reading is on me, since I've just finished a stretch where I've had to read a lot of poetry for a poetry jour Earlier on, I was prepared to rate this higher. Some of the earlier poems just blew me away. But then I hit a patch of WTF poems that left me clueless ("Do You Remember the Rude Nudists"?). In particular, I had issues with "The Reservoir," which I read several times. It seems like it's meant to be a significant poem in the collection, but I just couldn't crack it. Part of this frustrated reading is on me, since I've just finished a stretch where I've had to read a lot of poetry for a poetry journal, which can reduce me to denseness when it comes poetry. In other words, this may not be a good time for me to read poetry since I'm kind of burned out and crave trashy stuff. Let me add that I love what Christian Wiman is doing with Poetry Magazine. So much so that I think Every Riven Thing requires me to revisit this book for another reading. Another star (or two) may be coming.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Simmons

    "Lord, suffer me to sing / these wounds by which I am made / and marred, savor this creature / whose aloneness you ease and are." I cannot recommend this book highly enough. "Lord, suffer me to sing / these wounds by which I am made / and marred, savor this creature / whose aloneness you ease and are." I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    Christian Wiman is one of my favorite poets. Every riven thing he does is magic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pragyan Pradhan

    "When there is nothing left to curse you can curse nothing but when there is nothing left to love the heart eats inward and inward its own need for release..." "O my life my war in a jar I shake you and shake you and may the best ant win" "When there is nothing left to curse you can curse nothing but when there is nothing left to love the heart eats inward and inward its own need for release..." "O my life my war in a jar I shake you and shake you and may the best ant win"

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Some questions for Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and author of the poetry book, Every Riven Thing (among others!) (From Gapers Block: http://gapersblock.com/bookclub/2010/...) GB: The definition of “riven” is “to wrench open,” “tear apart or to pieces,” or “to split with force.” Obviously, the book’s title, Every Riven Thing, could describe your diagnosis of an incurable cancer tearing apart your life, but after reading the poems, I also feel that the diagnosis might have split open y Some questions for Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and author of the poetry book, Every Riven Thing (among others!) (From Gapers Block: http://gapersblock.com/bookclub/2010/...) GB: The definition of “riven” is “to wrench open,” “tear apart or to pieces,” or “to split with force.” Obviously, the book’s title, Every Riven Thing, could describe your diagnosis of an incurable cancer tearing apart your life, but after reading the poems, I also feel that the diagnosis might have split open your relationship with God or put a crack in some of the beliefs you previously held about God and religion. Is there any truth to this? CW: It’s hard for me to remember which poems were written when. There are poems in this book that are fifteen years old, and others that were written right before the book came out. I think you’re right, though, to notice the radical mix of tones in the “religious” poems. Some, like the title poem, are clearly devotional; others are fraught with doubt and a sense of my own inadequacy; a couple are openly antagonistic to the whole notion of religion and belief. I needed them all. Need them all. “God’s truth is life,” writes Patrick Kavanagh, “even the grotesque shapes of its foulest fires.” GB: An idea/image that spoke to me in this book is the burning of sermons (in “Voice of One Head” and “Hermitage”). I know what I took from that image, and I’m sure other readers find their own meanings in it. What does that particular image/description mean for you? CW: I don’t really believe we can ever speak clearly and truly of god, much less speak his (his! –even the pronoun is problematic) name. In both of those poems you mention (two of my personal favorites), language and existence have been pushed as far as they can be pushed—by the subjects of the poems, I mean; I’m not claiming this as an accomplishment of the poems—and the silence that ensues is a mixture of mortal defeat and mysterious grace. Plus, and perhaps more to the point, I just like the sound of “burn” and “sermon” together! GB: Now, less about topic and more about process… I’m the kind of writer who spits out lines randomly and eventually tries to put them together into a poem. Your work is very well-crafted, very musical, with an emphasis on sound and rhyme. Do you find it difficult to create poems like these? What is your process like? CW: I don’t know if it’s difficult. I mean, I don’t really have anything else to compare it to. I never chose to write the way I do. I hear this music in my head, these rhythms wanting to be words, and I can’t get any relief until I get the lines and the rhymes and the rhythms right. Sometimes a poem comes quite easily—the title poem was written in a couple of hours one morning. Sometimes it will take years. GB: I love “So Much a Poet He Despises Poetry”; it reminds me of being completely burned out on poetry after I finished my poetry MFA program, but yet continuing to immerse myself in it – even being the managing editor of a poetry journal! Do you find being a poet difficult at times? Not just the difficulty in getting published, but do you feel you’re driven to write and/or be involved in poetry, even if perhaps you don’t particularly want to be at any given moment? CW: Yes, definitely. I get sick of poetry, especially contemporary poetry, and sometimes think I want nothing at all to do with it. And I get tired of the psychic pressures of writing poetry, the mental derangement it can not simply cause but seem to require. But that poem, I should admit, is actually making fun of someone (me!) who gets so sick and tired of poetry, who feels exhausted by the existential exposure of it (“his soul’s dainties”), who has become so jaded that there’s NOTHING to which he doesn’t respond with a slight sneer. To hell with that. I wrote the poem as a purgative, because I don’t want to be that person. And because it was actually fun to write.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    “To believe is to believe you have been torn/from the abyss, yet stand waveringly on its rim..." I had the pleasure of hearing Christian Wiman speak last year. In my notes from his lecture, I scribbled, parenthetically, "He has the cadences of a Texas preacher." Wiman is Texan, and his first name is a clear reference to his personal belief system, but he breaks the stereotypes that may accompany him. He is wise and sophisticated and funny and deep. And these are raw, heartbreaking poems: about pe “To believe is to believe you have been torn/from the abyss, yet stand waveringly on its rim..." I had the pleasure of hearing Christian Wiman speak last year. In my notes from his lecture, I scribbled, parenthetically, "He has the cadences of a Texas preacher." Wiman is Texan, and his first name is a clear reference to his personal belief system, but he breaks the stereotypes that may accompany him. He is wise and sophisticated and funny and deep. And these are raw, heartbreaking poems: about people, illness, God, belief, doubt, and yes, there are even some dogs in there. How could I not help but adore this collection? I've been waiting a while to read it, and I wish I had read it sooner (motivated by my strong love of his memoir "My Bright Abyss," which was my favorite nonfiction book of 2013). It's a collection to own and read again and again. Favorite poems: “After the Diagnosis” “The Mole” “It Takes Particular Clicks” “Every Riven Thing” “From a Window” “Not altogether Gone” “Hammer Is the Prayer”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Soren Johnson

    It is easy to sense - aside from roughly contemporaneous publishing dates - that this work is a concurrent meditation with Wiman's memoir "My Bright Abyss," albeit from the purely poetic. There are numerous poems explicitly dealing with Wiman's bout with cancer and his feelings toward death in general. A poignant tension arises between terrestrial suffering and the hope - or terror - transcendent involvement accords to life. For Wiman, eternity is at times a "dirty word," and at others, the only It is easy to sense - aside from roughly contemporaneous publishing dates - that this work is a concurrent meditation with Wiman's memoir "My Bright Abyss," albeit from the purely poetic. There are numerous poems explicitly dealing with Wiman's bout with cancer and his feelings toward death in general. A poignant tension arises between terrestrial suffering and the hope - or terror - transcendent involvement accords to life. For Wiman, eternity is at times a "dirty word," and at others, the only chance of meaning in the face of nothingness; God is at once an imposition, a perpetrator, and the only word to express the ineffable qualities of existence that make it worth the trouble of poems. And, - as in "My Bright Abyss" - Wiman struggles with the paradoxes of being a poet; the detachment from life the artist pangs to suffer; the hyper-analyzation of the moment, making the moment just out of reach. In short, "Every Riven Thing" is a devotional piece. It's about life, it's about Christian Wiman, and it's about God, and what the %$*# it all means.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    A stunner. Wiman's poetry reads almost like a masculine version of Emily Dickinson's, studded with rage and devastation and fierce will. His faith and his depth of seeing are complicated and bracing. And the world and Christianity both, it seems to me, are in dire need of so mature and apprehending a voice. A stunner. Wiman's poetry reads almost like a masculine version of Emily Dickinson's, studded with rage and devastation and fierce will. His faith and his depth of seeing are complicated and bracing. And the world and Christianity both, it seems to me, are in dire need of so mature and apprehending a voice.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Guidry

    Moving, beautiful, intellectual, tearful, lovely, powerful.

  13. 5 out of 5

    C

    The three words I would pick to describe this collection: elegant, devastating, revelatory.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is definitely one of those collections I would have never appreciated had I read it on my own. Studying this for class, though, helped me understand the poems more and gave me a greater appreciation for Wiman's work. This is one of the better modern poetry collections I've read this year. This is definitely one of those collections I would have never appreciated had I read it on my own. Studying this for class, though, helped me understand the poems more and gave me a greater appreciation for Wiman's work. This is one of the better modern poetry collections I've read this year.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mattea Gernentz

    "How is it now, / like ruins unearthed by ruin, / my childhood should rise? / Lord, suffer me to sing / these wounds by which I am made / and marred, savor this creature / whose aloneness you ease and are" (82). "How is it now, / like ruins unearthed by ruin, / my childhood should rise? / Lord, suffer me to sing / these wounds by which I am made / and marred, savor this creature / whose aloneness you ease and are" (82).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Great poems about cancer, nature, God. Tough subjects to explore, tackle, slay, adore.

  17. 4 out of 5

    tonia peckover

    I wish these poems were easier. I wish it wasn't so obvious that Wiman is wrestling with God for his life (literally). I wish he didn't have to be so stripped down and his bones and his blood weren't showing. But I'm so grateful he wrote them. I wish these poems were easier. I wish it wasn't so obvious that Wiman is wrestling with God for his life (literally). I wish he didn't have to be so stripped down and his bones and his blood weren't showing. But I'm so grateful he wrote them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Damn. He good. The title poem is a syntactic marvel, and he's a madman with sonic effects ("He wrung/ from time a time to vanish/ back into the sheer/ shells and the strict mesquites, the heat-cracked/ creekbed and the needless weeds"). But technical virtuosity (as a long string of 80s metal guitarists will tell you) only gets you so far, and this collection has the emotional heft to balance his exercises in form. Wiman's collection is riddled with images of people on the edge, people hanging on Damn. He good. The title poem is a syntactic marvel, and he's a madman with sonic effects ("He wrung/ from time a time to vanish/ back into the sheer/ shells and the strict mesquites, the heat-cracked/ creekbed and the needless weeds"). But technical virtuosity (as a long string of 80s metal guitarists will tell you) only gets you so far, and this collection has the emotional heft to balance his exercises in form. Wiman's collection is riddled with images of people on the edge, people hanging on but just barely, people exposed to the excoriating winds that almost but don't destroy. His occasional character portraits ("Five Houses Down" and "The Hermitage" especially) spark and flash, but the best pieces here find Wiman struggling with purpose and place, knowing that, "To believe is to believe you have been torn/ from the abyss, yet stand waveringly on its rim," praying "shatter me God into my thousand sounds..." #2 Chris Wiman doesn't always wrestle with God, but I wish he did for few grapple so well. It says good things for this collection that a whole different clutch of poems grabbed me this time, especially "From a Window" which staggers me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joel Zartman

    There are several things to say about this book: One is that there is a value in reading modern poetry when it is good: it helps us with living in modern times. In what way? In finding meaning in modern waiting rooms, clinical procedures, traffic and such. You can go through all these activities without any reflection, you can go through them with your own reflections, and you can go through them enriched not only by your own reflections but those of people who have searched for meaning in things There are several things to say about this book: One is that there is a value in reading modern poetry when it is good: it helps us with living in modern times. In what way? In finding meaning in modern waiting rooms, clinical procedures, traffic and such. You can go through all these activities without any reflection, you can go through them with your own reflections, and you can go through them enriched not only by your own reflections but those of people who have searched for meaning in things = poets. I couldn’t help thinking that this book would be very valuable to readers in the future in wondering how life was like in our days and how it affected us. But more than that, there is an aspect of being conscious of how it affects us now, and responding well to that. I can’t say that I’d personally ever be inclined to describe the continual roar of the highway as an Om, but I understand why Wiman does, and now I hear that as well when I’m within range. Another thing one might say about this book is that Wiman is a Christian, not only in name. I think reading his poetry is worth it for the sensibility he brings to devotional poetry.

  20. 4 out of 5

    LeeAnn Derdeyn

    I have recently read the galley of Christian Wiman's Every Riven Thing that comes out from FSG in November and it is beautiful. Lyrical, with many of the same topoi that Wiman has done so well previously in both his poetry & prose -- austere glimpses of his West Texas upbringing; sophisticated commentary on his cosmopolitan & urbane lifestyle: a new love and late first marriage, a high profile job; the inevitable intrusions of the painful realities of an ailing parent, an incurable disease, a fu I have recently read the galley of Christian Wiman's Every Riven Thing that comes out from FSG in November and it is beautiful. Lyrical, with many of the same topoi that Wiman has done so well previously in both his poetry & prose -- austere glimpses of his West Texas upbringing; sophisticated commentary on his cosmopolitan & urbane lifestyle: a new love and late first marriage, a high profile job; the inevitable intrusions of the painful realities of an ailing parent, an incurable disease, a future that may occur without him; realizations of an often joyful acquiescence to, & new appreciation of, belief and life. His ars poetica "Late Fragment" seems to capture the atopia (the placed displacement, neither utopian nor dystopian) of contemporary poetry: "a halting, haunted art/ wherein to master was to miss--/ how to say this, how to say this... The poem may circumnavigate the process, but the entire collection indicates that Wiman certainly knows the answer to that query! I'm a devoted fan.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett

    This is a really interesting collection because I loved it at times, thought it was average at others, and then totally amazing for the last four or five poems. Many of these poems contain lines which are extraordinarily beautiful but add up to wholes which are abstract and frequently difficult to get a handle on. But when Wiman is on, he pens some exquisite lines, like these, at the book's end: To love is to feel your death given to you like a sentence, to meet the judge's eyes as if there were a j This is a really interesting collection because I loved it at times, thought it was average at others, and then totally amazing for the last four or five poems. Many of these poems contain lines which are extraordinarily beautiful but add up to wholes which are abstract and frequently difficult to get a handle on. But when Wiman is on, he pens some exquisite lines, like these, at the book's end: To love is to feel your death given to you like a sentence, to meet the judge's eyes as if there were a judge, as if he had eyes, and love. That's just too heartbreaking! Or the line in "Small Prayer in a Hard Wind," "Shatter me God into my thousand sounds." Or this one from "All Good Conductors": "There is a dreamer all good conductors know to look for when the last stop is made." As I said though, many times, these lines are within a much more abstract and heady context. It also struck me as a deeply religious book in a sad way. One that is searching and searching so hard while knowing that the sought is unknowable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I can already see and feel these poems sifting their way into daily life. Wiman's voice does a TARDIS on me no matter what page I open to — in the span of a few words, I am elsewhere, smelling smells and hearing sounds and feeling something I was not feeling three seconds before. It's not that I want to be in a forever relationship with every one of these poems. Every now and again his kickers, to use a blunt-instrument term, irritate the crap out of me. I think it's because I find myself so tra I can already see and feel these poems sifting their way into daily life. Wiman's voice does a TARDIS on me no matter what page I open to — in the span of a few words, I am elsewhere, smelling smells and hearing sounds and feeling something I was not feeling three seconds before. It's not that I want to be in a forever relationship with every one of these poems. Every now and again his kickers, to use a blunt-instrument term, irritate the crap out of me. I think it's because I find myself so transported, in such a personal way, by his pieces, and the way in which his poems end can place the reader squarely where Wiman wants him or her to be. So that's jarring. It's also a small complaint that will not keep me from wishing I had a copy of this book at home as well as at work, where I've been reading it with lunch. Also: Gorgeous hardback, with a nice heft and fragrant paper. Good poems deserve that.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    This one is a hard one, because it's so far outside the range of my preferred poetry interests: it is, fairly explicitly, a contemporary collection of Christian poetry, and it also rhymes a lot, or at least uses a lot of formal constraints. I personally don't care much for spiritual crises or rhyme, so I feel like I'm maybe the worst possible audience for this. Which is not to minimize Wiman's obvious accomplishments: the rhythms here are tight and keep the poems lively. One of the books sections This one is a hard one, because it's so far outside the range of my preferred poetry interests: it is, fairly explicitly, a contemporary collection of Christian poetry, and it also rhymes a lot, or at least uses a lot of formal constraints. I personally don't care much for spiritual crises or rhyme, so I feel like I'm maybe the worst possible audience for this. Which is not to minimize Wiman's obvious accomplishments: the rhythms here are tight and keep the poems lively. One of the books sections, I think it's the third, owes an explicit debt to Donne's _Holy Sonnets_, and there's a muscularity to the angry religious feelings in those poems that makes them hard to ignore. But too many of the other poems feel too mannered, too wishy-washy in their questing for me. And I'm sure I'm wrong about this, but the descriptions of poor rural life in the Deep South that populate this collection seemed to me more conventional than authentically observed. Ah, what do I know.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    I don't normally tumble into poetry books like I do novels. A book of poetry is something I read haltingly, picking up and then putting down, jotting down my favorites for safe keeping along the way. Sometimes I find something I love and I stop reading for a while, so I can savor that one perfect image or line, and let that discovery color my day. This one was different. It sucked me in as if it had a plot and had me a little breathless, turning the pages and letting the whole thing crash over me I don't normally tumble into poetry books like I do novels. A book of poetry is something I read haltingly, picking up and then putting down, jotting down my favorites for safe keeping along the way. Sometimes I find something I love and I stop reading for a while, so I can savor that one perfect image or line, and let that discovery color my day. This one was different. It sucked me in as if it had a plot and had me a little breathless, turning the pages and letting the whole thing crash over me. And finally, when I set it aside for a week, it was because reading it was such an emotionally tense experience that I needed to peel myself away for a break and to wait until I could give myself back to it. I had never heard of Christian Wiman and borrowed this from the library on a whim, to tide me over until my other book requests made it in from the other library branches.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    There are some amazing poems in here, a few snorers where I was thinking I had seen the same sentiment expressed better in prose, and a few where I had no clue what he was talking about. The poem about WalMart was worth the read and hit the consumer culture right where it hurts, in the pharmaceutical section that is.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    Five stars given For an education in inspiration Calling forth latent desires Turning them into notes on a phone Or an app purchased just for writing Shitty first drafts Antonymous expression Of fatal frustration Like a book I read recently On Mortality Not less fatalistic Just less clenching of eyes and heart And more open to doubt

  27. 5 out of 5

    sch

    The first section was so good that I ploughed through the second and third. This was a mistake, for the remainder of the book is different in subject, form, and tone. I'll try it again sometime, more slowly. But I'll reread the first section again tomorrow, which is more than worth the price of the book. Update: Just reread the first section, better than the first time. The first section was so good that I ploughed through the second and third. This was a mistake, for the remainder of the book is different in subject, form, and tone. I'll try it again sometime, more slowly. But I'll reread the first section again tomorrow, which is more than worth the price of the book. Update: Just reread the first section, better than the first time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nita

    the Title poem is my favorite. I love everything and ponder Wiman.. always rich

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I don't like to "review" poetry books. I don't like to "review" poetry books.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Some of the poems were unbelievable. Several I couldn't get into. Reading the book out loud helps to get the full experience. Really liked "Small prayer in a hard wind." Some of the poems were unbelievable. Several I couldn't get into. Reading the book out loud helps to get the full experience. Really liked "Small prayer in a hard wind."

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