Every Riven Thing: Poems [NOOK Book]


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 ...

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Every Riven Thing: Poems

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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 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Wiman attains intensity often enough to remind you of just how great Frost was, and often there is a touch of another of his masters, Richard Wilbur . . . But 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, The Financial Times

“One of the best books of poetry written in the past twenty years. It is extraordinary.” —John Poch

“Every poem seems made to steady and fortify him against mortality.” —Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker (one of the ten best books of 2010)

“One of the preeminent devotional poets of any faith now writing in English.” —David J. Rothman, First Things

“An ecstatic ruckus worthy of Gerard Manley Hopkins, who also tasted the tears in things—and the holy too.” —Dana Jennings, The New York Times

“Wiman has found in Every Riven Thing his true voice, alternately edgy and relaxed, taut and unfettered.  There’s fear and grief, to be sure, but also consolation and humor.” —Kevin Nance, Poets & Writers

“The work here is searingly honest and beautifully crafted, and it establishes Wiman in his most important public role: a gifted poet whose work cannot be ignored.” —Elizabeth Lund, The Christian Science Monitor

“This is haunting stuff—this is language turned and tuned to a pitch where it is both quiet scream and humble song.” —Brian Doyle, The Christian Century

“Few poets have been able to pull off contemplative/metaphysical poetry in the 20th and 21st centuries. Our detached sensibilities make that level of immersion feel overly forced. It can come off as both too submerged and too transcendent. We’d rather float. But Wiman makes a case for going old school. He dives right in to sentiment but swims up with hardly a drop of sentimentality. He asks for belief but never sounds fatuous. We are a god hungry nation. Politicians know it, and it just might be time for poets to know it. Wiman, in this case, is ahead of the curve.” —Dean Rader, The Rumpus

“Christian Wiman is fiercely dedicated to describing experiences for which there are no words—an ambition shared with many poets today. But few contemporary poets invite us to consider new ways of looking at those experiences as openly, intensely, and originally as he does.” —Mike Puican, TriQuarterly

“Wiman . . . writes with the gravity, awe, and humility of one who has been riven but lived to tell the tale, as well as ask the questions and pray the prayers that follow the experience of being broken . . . [His] use of violent imagery is reminiscent of Donne, while his reverence and musicality echo Hopkins, but the voice is his own.” —Image Update

“Christian Wiman, the visionary editor of Poetry magazine, has written a book so urgent that the poems feel carved into the skin. Looming large over Every Riven Thing is Wiman’s diagnosis with a rare form of cancer, but Wiman never slips into keening or self-dramatization; neither does he let the prospect of his death hurry his prosody. Instead, quite miraculously, he uses his considerable craft — measured, assured, but never belaboured — to slow what little time he may have left, and savour it in language as lush and full of pathos as one is likely to encounter in contemporary verse. He writes: ‘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.” In doing so he reminds us that serious craft has an ethical, as well as aesthetic, quality to it.’ —Michael Lista, National Post

“I think you should go read this book, right now, and throw yourself into its brutal, beautiful simplicity . . . Wiman's poems speak of a survival, and a hope, that is neither bleak nor sentimental, but real and good and true. Praise to that, and to Wiman's reverence, which only has the power to assist our own.” —Allison Backous, Comment

“His is a world of acute insight into the human questions—of mortality, of God, of nature—rendered without proselytizing, without prognosis. He just observes, and still questions. He’s as at home on the trains of the city as he is on the range of his native West Texas. He believes in God, yet leads us into the existential void, into the terror of the terminal soul. His illness sharpens his vision; his words are radiated. And yet, he’s funny, using humor to disarm the darkness that lies within reach of his questions.” —Brian Hieggelke, Newcity

“Christian Wiman . . . writes poems that are a study in torque, full of twisting force, words and lines pushing and pulling each other into forms of astonishing solidity and grace. His third collection, Every Riven Thing, is a beautiful and wrenching dialogue with death, decay, and the divine and is one of the best books of poems published last year.” —Jill Owens, PowellsBooks.Blog

Library Journal
A sense of mortality hangs over Wiman's third collection (after The Long Home); some of these poems speak of illness and loss. Ultimately, though, this is an optimistic book that asks and then answers some of the great questions: why are we here? What is life about? How can we live wisely and praise this extraordinary earth that gives us a home? Poems such as "One Time" and "Gone for the Day, She Is the Day" explore the nature of love, especially after a serious diagnosis, while the state of ecology in an age of rapid destruction is tackled in "Country in Search of a Symbol." Wiman writes more formally than many modern poets, often incorporating rhyme. On the whole, this works well, though occasionally a rhyme seems either too easy or too forced. One of Wiman's strengths is his musical ability, shown especially in the title poem, which exhibits a kind of haunting quality. The poems as a whole pulse with color and texture, as in this celebration of changing light: "slurring such last extravagant streaks of light/ over the endless city." Despite the seriousness of the poems, humor is often included and indeed necessary, given the subject matter: witness "tumbleweeds maddening/ past in the cage of themselves." VERDICT A collection that sings with the beauty of life and at the same time acknowledges its fragility: "To believe is to believe you have been torn/ from the abyss, yet stand waveringly on its rim."—Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466878228
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 8/12/2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,105,719
  • File size: 206 KB

Meet the Author

Christian Wiman, born and raised in West Texas. He is the editor of Poetry and the author of two previous collections of poems, Hard Night (2005) and The Long Home (2007), and one collection of prose. He lives in Chicago.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    Highly recommended

    In his book of prose, AMBITION AND SURVIVAL, Christian Wiman quotes
    Edna St. Vincent Mallay: "Nobody speaks to me. People fall in love with me, and annoy me and distress me and flatter me and excite me-
    and all that sort of thing. But no one speaks to me. I sometimes think that no one can."

    I doubt that Mallay would say that could she have read EVERY RIVEN THING. Wiman hears the silence in Mallay which she longed for someone to hear. He hears the silence in us all. His poems seem made out of it. They help--though you sit for a long time after each reading--listening to the silence in yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2012

    "Beautiful" is the only word true and appropriate enou

    "Beautiful" is the only word true and appropriate enough to describe Every Riven Thing. It is Wiman's death march, his autobiography, and his refusal to be shaken.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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