Christian Wiman, the editor of Poetry magazine, is the subject of an elegant profile, “The Resurrection and the Life,” in the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. The occasion is the publication of Every Riven Thing, his fourth book and his third collection of poetry. Christian is a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1988.
The profile (which is in print only) describes his struggle to write poetry, even as he made his name with essays and criticism and became the editor of Poetry in 2003. For one year, writes Kevin Nance, Christian would “sit for hours in front of a blank computer screen or an open notebook, but the words that came, if they came at all, stubbornly refused to cohere, intensify, ignite.”
Writer’s block is far from the only challenge Christian has faced. He has Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, an incurable cancer of the blood. Within the past two years, however, he’s undergone successful treatment with an experimental drug. He and his wife, the poet Danielle Chapman, recently welcomed twin daughters Fiona and Eliza. He’s undergone a spiritual renewal. And now comes his new book.
Christian, who grew up in Snyder, Texas, tells Poets & Writers that “up until the age of twenty, I was like a goat, I was so unconscious. I had no intellectual wherewithal at all.” During the summer of his junior year, however, the English major discovered the poems of William Butler Yeats and T.S. Eliot while studying at Oxford University. “From that point on, I was obsessed with being a poet.”
His other books of poetry are The Long Home and Hard Night. Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet contains his essays. Read more about Christian at our blog post from last year, when he made news as one of Chicago’s top publishers and writers.