Going into our conversation with Christian Wiman, Andrew and I wanted to make sure we gave him the chance to read a few of his poems. Not only is Wiman a brilliant poet, but he’s an exceptionally gifted reader of poetry – he brings an intensity to the task that I always find striking. You can tell this is a man for whom poetry really matters, who sees in an arrangement of words the possibility of revelation. Hearing Wiman read his work transforms how you read it yourself. Or it should. I can’t crack open his books without his Texas-tinged voice crowding out my own.
Both of the poems below are from Every Riven Thing, a volume Wiman published in 2010 that grapples with his cancer diagnosis and renewed Christian faith. The first, “2047 Grace Street,” is one of my personal favorites, and the poem with which I began my essay:
The second poem is “From a Window,” which captures a flash of insight that occurred while looking at a tree: