Every Riven Thing Poems

Christian Wiman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

112 Pages



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Winner of the Ambassador Book Award for Poetry

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.


Praise for Every Riven Thing

". . . a stark and moving meditation on the nature of grief, mortality and living a life of the spirit."—Dana Jennings, The New York Times

"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, Financial Times

"To rive is to wrench apart, shatter, split, crack, or fracture. In Wiman's poetic cosmos, to be riven is to be spun around, driven to the ground, and transformed. In his hammered-on-the-anvil third collection, Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, brings fire and gravity to poems forged in a battle, as he signals in 'After the Diagnosis,' with a daunting disease, and a renewed connection with God. Exquisitely aware that every thing on earth, no matter how hard used, channels the mysterious force that makes atoms dance and hearts beat, Wiman, in the spirit of Hopkins, infuses molten life into every word as he contemplates searing sparseness, most emblematically, a lone, wind-ravaged, stubbornly standing tree."—Booklist

"Grave and thoughtful, careful in its acoustic effects, and at times breathtaking in its achievement, this third set of verse from Poetry editor Wiman is by far his best. Though his forms vary, his goals and attitudes stay clear: he wants to see the ugly and the difficult without turning away, to describe them tersely and accurately, and to see the handiwork of God. Early poems handle his own chronic, serious illness, and its grueling treatments: 'Needle of knowledge, needle of nothingness,/gringing through my spine to sip at the marrow of me.' Surrounded by such failures of body and mind, Wiman doubts that he can say anything fitting, or even pious, about his God, 'that to say the name God/is a great betrayal'—and yet, he tells us, he must try and try: the religious sentiments sit uneasily with the stark scenes of fact, of bodily decay and environmental destruction, but the poet insists on the reality of them all."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Christian Wiman

  • 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 and The Long Home, and one collection of prose. He lives in Chicago.

  • Christian Wiman