Acclaimed poet Christian Wiman to speak at Fairfield University


"A gifted poet whose work cannot be ignored."
- The Christian Science Monitor

Image: Christian WimanFairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies continues with its tradition of bringing nationally recognized scholars to campus with a lecture by award-winning poet and essayist Christian Wiman, on Wednesday, March 5 at 8 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the lecture by Wiman, who was recently appointed to the faculty of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as Senior Lecturer in Religion and Literature, is the 8th Annual Commonweal Lecture, entitled, "Hammer is the Prayer: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith." The annual event, taking place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room, is co-sponsored by Commonweal, a journal of opinion edited and managed by lay Catholics that reviews religion, politics, and culture.

Wiman's poems and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker. He is theformer editor of the influential Poetry magazine.

In a 2012 interview with PBS's Bill Moyers, Wiman discussed being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer and finding true love at about the same time, noting the experiences reignited his religious passion and creative fervor in recent years. "One of the ways in which I feel close to God is writing poetry," Wiman shared.

Wiman's much celebrated collection of poems, "Every Riven Thing" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), contains poems that deal with this trying time in his life. In addition to inspiring Wiman's upcoming Fairfield lecture, 'Hammer is the Prayer' is also the name of a poem in the book.

It opens:

There is no consolation in the thought of God,

he said, slamming another nail


in another house another havoc had half-taken.

Grace is not consciousness, nor is it beyond.


To hell with remembrance, to hell with heaven,

hammer is the prayer of the poor and the dying.



In The New Yorker, poet and critic Dan Chiasson chose "Every Riven Thing" as one of the eleven best poetry collections of the year, writing "Every poem seems made to steady and fortify him against mortality." 

Wiman's most recent book is "My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer" (FSG, 2013). In a review of the book in the National Catholic Reporter, Paul Lakeland, Ph.D., director of Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies, remarked that Wiman "offers us a set of sublimely original spiritual reflections..." "Beyond the autobiographical elements of the book, beyond the translucent prose that this gifted poet offers us, its more universal value is its presentation of a modern believer," Dr. Lakeland wrote.

Wiman's other collections include "The Long Home" (Copper Canyon, 2007), which won the Nicholas Roerich Prize. He has been the recipient of both the Ruth Lilly and Wallace Stegner fellowships.

For more information about other events sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies, visit their website or contact Michelle Towster, administrative coordinator, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 20, 2014

Vol. 46, No. 182