Christian Wiman

Award Winning Poet & Essayist
Editor of Poetry Magazine


“The best thing to say about Wiman is not that he reminds you of previous poets: it's that he makes you forget them.” —Clive James


"One of the preeminent devotional poets of any faith now writing in English." —David Rothman


“Christian Wiman is fiercely dedicated to describing experiences for which there are no words. Few contemporary poets invite us to consider new ways of looking at those experiences as openly, intensely, and originally as he does.” —TriQuarterly

Christian Wiman is Senior Lecturer in Religion and Literature at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and was editor of Poetry Magazine from 2003 to 2013. He is a recipient of both the Ruth Lilly and Wallace Stegner fellowships and has produced four published books of poetry, two collections of essays, and his most recent work, a memoir, My Bright Abyss. In The New Yorker, poet and critic Dan Chiasson chose Wiman’s Every Riven Thing as one of the 11 best poetry collections of 2010. Wiman’s other works include The Long Home (Nicholas Roerich Prize), Hard Night, and Stolen Air, translations of Osip Mendelstam (Ecco, 2012). His fifth book of poems, Once in the West, will be published this Fall by FSG. 

Christian Science Monitor review of Every Riven Thing

Read an excerpt from My Bright Abyss

A native of West Texas, Wiman graduated from Washington and Lee University and later taught at Stanford, Yale, Northwestern, and the Prague School of Economics. During his editorship of Poetry, the magazine's circulation has tripled and its influence widened around the world. A strong believer in the magazine's famous, 100-year-old "Open Door" policy, Wiman has consistently published formalists alongside experimentalists, as well as greatly expanding the range of prose in the back of the magazine. In 2011 Poetry won two prestigious awards—for general excellence and for best podcast—from the American Society of Magazine Editors.

Interview with Bill Moyers: "On Love, Faith, and Cancer"

His poems and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, the NY Times Book Review, and the New Yorker, among others.

"Gazing Into the Abyss," an essay

Editor of Poetry Magazine from 2003 to 2013, Christian Wiman is the author of four books of poetry and two collections of essays. In the New Yorker, poet and critic Dan Chiasson chose Wiman’s
 Every Riven Thing as one of the eleven best poetry collections of the year. Wiman’s other collections include The Long Homewhich won the Nicholas Roerich Prize; Hard NightStolen Air, translations of Osip Mendelstam; and the nonfiction collections Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet; and My Bright Abyss
. He has been the recipient of both the Ruth Lilly and Wallace Stegner fellowships and was recently appointed to the faculty of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as Senior Lecturer in Religion and Literature. His poems and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, the NY Times Book Review, and the New Yorker, among others. 

About ONCE IN THE WEST (Poetry, 2014)
Once in the West, Christian Wiman’s fourth collection of poetry, is as intense and intimate as poetry gets—from the “suffering of primal silence” that it plumbs to the “rockshriek of joy” that it achieves and enables. Readers of Wiman’s earlier books will recognize the sharp characterization and humor—“From her I learned the earthworm’s exemplary open-mindedness, / its engine of discriminate shit”—as well as his particular brand of reverent rage: “Lord if I implore you please just please leave me alone / is that a prayer that’s every instant answered?” But there is something new here, too: moving love poems to Wiman’s wife, tender glimpses of the poet’s children, and, amid the onslaughts of illness and fear and failures, “a trace / of peace.”

About MY BRIGHT ABYSS (Nonfiction, 2013)
Christian Wiman, an award-winning poet and former editor of Poetry magazine, has had two constants in his life, two things that have defined him and given him solace in his times of need: faith and poetry. But when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he began to question what his Christian beliefs and his love of poetry could really do—not only to save him from death but also to give him comfort in his pain. Completed in the wake of a bone marrow transplant, during a time when Wiman was convinced he was going to die, My Bright Abyss radiates with the intensity of a man attempting to confront his feelings and doubts while he still has time. It is a powerful meditation on what it means—for an artist and a person—to have faith not just in God but in anything in the face of death.

About EVERY RIVEN THING (Poetry, 2011)
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.