Poet Christian Wiman to deliver 2014 Commonweal Lecture


Poet Christian Wiman to deliver 2014 Commonweal Lecture

The Christian Science Monitor has called Christian Wiman : “A gifted poet whose work cannot be ignored.” His poems and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker, among other top publications.

On Wednesday, March 5 at 8 p.m., Wiman will be on the Fairfield University campus to deliver the 8 th Annual Commonweal Lecture — “Hammer is the Prayer: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith.” Free and open to the public, Wiman's talk will be held in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. The event is sponsored by Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies and is part of its tradition of bringing nationally recognized scholars to the University. It is co-sponsored by Commonweal , a journal of opinion edited and managed by lay Catholics that reviews religion, politics, and culture.

Wiman was recently appointed to the faculty of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music as senior lecturer in religion and literature.

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. “One of the ways in which I feel close to God is writing poetry,” Wiman shared in the interview.

Wiman’s much celebrated poetry collection, Every Riven Thing ( Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG), 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 11 best poetry collections of the year, noting, “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, PhD, 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 is the former editor of the influential Poetry magazine. While he was editor, the magazine tripled its circulation, its influence widened around the world, and it won prestigious awards.

Wiman’s other poetry books 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. A native of West Texas, he has taught at Stanford, Northwestern, and the Prague School of Economics.

For more information about other events sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/cs/lectures/ or contact Michelle Towster , administrative coordinator, at (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415.

Last modified: 02-24-14 02:26 PM


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