didn’t know what I wanted to be; I was just furious to be something,” remarked
author, poet, and teacher Christian Wiman to a group of students, faculty, and
staff in Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Chapel. Wiman was the featured
speaker at the annual Lawrence Clayton Poets and Writers Speaker Series, April
14,2014, at HSU.
an informal question and answer session, Wiman harkened back to his challenging
past as a striving writer from Snyder, Texas, as one of the driving forces
behind his poetry. Wiman recalled his financially difficult first year of
college when he had to sell his car to pay for the second semester.
has gone on to receive the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, a Guggenheim
Fellowship, and the 1998 Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize as well as becoming the
editor of the prestigious literary magazine Poetry,
a position he held from 2003-2013. Wiman currently lectures at the Yale
Institute of Sacred Music on topics of religion and literature.
Mulvihill, a communications major from Cobhill, Texas, said that Wiman’s unique
motivation for writing applied to her own experience as editor of the 2014 Corral, HSU’s arts and literary
write for God,” said Mulvihill as she described how Wiman’s presentation had
influenced her perspective regarding writing. “People can be a fickle
audience,” she said.
a poetry reading and book signing, Wiman enthralled those in attendance with
powerful poetic punches, drawing inspiration from noted poets such as T.S.
Eliot and Osip Mandelstam. Connecting his personal beliefs with his poetry,
Wiman verbally painted a picture of how the intricacies of light in physics mimic
his own understanding of God. Wiman challenged the audience to examine truth
with a perspective of beauty and brokenness.
a long moment then, I wished and wished and wished the moment would not end.
And just like that, it vanished,” said Wiman quoting from his poem Postolka about a chance encounter with a
falcon on a balcony in Prague, Czech Republic. Wiman points out the meaning and
truth behind the poem, that every moment in life will eventually end.
is clearly one of the best, if not the best, poets, writers out there,” said Dr.
Robert Fink, W.D. and Hollis R. Bond Professor of English and director of
creative writing at HSU.
The Lawrence Clayton Poets and Writers Speaker
Series, presented by The McIntyre-West Endowment of the HSU Academic
Foundation, is named for Dr. Lawrence Clayton, former chair of the English
Department and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1977, Fink, with
the blessing of Clayton, began the program that would bring
nationally-recognized poets and fiction writers to HSU to provide creative
writing students and the Abilene community access to publishing artists.
Clayton’s name was added to the series after his death.
is the author of three collections of poetry: Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), Hard Night (Copper Canyon, 2005), and The Long Home (Copper Canyon, 2007).
Once in the West, his newest book
of poetry, will be released September, 2014, from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
has translated the poems of Osip Mendelstam (Stolen Air, Ecco, 2012) and has two books of essays: My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern
Believer (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013), in its eighth printing and now
available in paperback; and Ambition and
Survival: Becoming a Poet (Copper Canyon, 2005).
poems and personal essays appear widely in such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker.