Christan Wiman, editor of Poetry Magazine, has long been a favorite source of mine to return to. His hard-edged but soul-filled poetry gives me new language for the kinds of things that have often gone stale: God, absence, faith, death, suffering, joy, pain. All of the above, often found together in hive of nerves, as the author might say.
Living with a rare form of inoperable cancer, Wiman has spent many years staring death in the face. His poetry and essays have revolved around this illness and the way it both illuminates and darkens his life. He has found a way, through his illness, to a holistic sense of self, of faith, of God and of the world he finds himself in. It is not easy, but it is genuine.
Wiman’s recent essay in The American Scholar — Mortify Our Wolves — tackles all of these issues, and more. It is both sobering and cathartic, pulling no punches while gracefully managing the tenuous balance that we find in the best poetry (even if it masquerades as prose).
Give yourself the time to sit with it, to reread it, to soak in all it offers.