Survival Is a Style, Christian Wiman’s first collection of new poems in six years, may be his best book yet. His many readers will recognize the musical and formal variety, the voice that can be tender and funny, credibly mystical and savagely skeptical. But there are many new notes in this collection as well, including a moving elegy to the poet’s father, sharp observations and distillations of modern American life, and rangy poems that merge and juxtapose different modes of speech and thought. The cumulative effect is extraordinary. Reading Survival Is a Style, one has the sense one is encountering work that will become a permanent part of American literature.
"[Survival Is a Style] rings with hard-wrung truths . . . These poems, which vary widely in their forms, are held together by the poet’s sensibility, each word sparking joy in its sound and texture . . . Wrestling with the self, skepticism, and faith, this collection is a radiant addition to Wiman’s oeuvre."—Publishers Weekly
SURVIVAL IS A STYLE
There are no knives
on the man so thin the wind
whips his cargo pants around him like a dance
to which his bones aspire,
no flares, no smoke, no unmetaphorical fire