Poets and Writers Speaker Series Brings Yale Lecturer Back Home


Teaching courses on subjects at the intersection of theology and literature in New Haven, Connecticut, poet Christian Wiman is the featured speaker at HSU’s Lawrence Clayton Poets & Writers Speaker Series, April 14, 2014.

“Wiman is one of the most important American poets and poetry critics now active,” said Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “He is a writer of depth, ambition, and originality. There is no one in his generation for whom I have a higher regard,” said Gioia.

Now senior lecturer in religion and literature at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Wiman served as editor of Poetry magazine for more than ten years.

Wiman was born in West Texas (1966), spending the first seventeen years of his life in Snyder. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia; and has taught at Stanford University, Stanford California; Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois; Prague School of Economics, Czech Republic; and Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Virginia.

“I have no illusions about adding to sophisticated theological thinking,” said Wiman as he explained what he hopes readers might take from his work. “There are a ton of people out there who are what you might call unbelieving believers, people whose consciousness is completely modern and yet who have this strong spiritual hunger in them. I would like to say something helpful to those people,” he said.

Wiman has strong family ties to Hardin-Simmons and Abilene. His mother and his father graduated from HSU, and his great aunt Ruth Wiman has an HSU School of Education endowed scholarship in her name. His mother, Frances Wiman, and brother, David, still live in Abilene.

“A number of people around West Texas know Chris and his family, both from personal knowledge and from reading Chris’s books, poems, and essays,” said Dr. Robert Fink, W. D. and Hollis R. Bond Professor of English, and director of the annual speaker series. “His spiritual memoir, My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer, seems to have an especially strong following in the Big Country,” said Fink.

The Lawrence Clayton Poets and Writers Speaker Series, presented by The McIntyre-West Endowment of the HSU Academic Foundation, was started 37 years ago by Dr. Lawrence Clayton, chair of the English department. Clayton played an instrumental role in securing funding to bring nationally-recognized poets and fiction writers to HSU, providing creative writing students access to publishing poets and fiction writers. Clayton’s name was added to the series after his death.

The event is free and open to the public.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Logsdon Chapel, Cedar Street, Hardin-Simmons University

 4-­5 p.m.

Informal Question & Answer Session

 8-­9 p.m.

Poetry Reading

 9-10 p.m.

Reception and Book Signing


More on Christian Wiman:

He 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 new book of poetry, to be released in September, 2014, from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

He has also translated the poems of Osip Mendelstam (Stolen Air, Ecco, 2012). He 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).

His 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.

For more information about the Lawrence Clayton Poets & Writers Speaker Series:

Robert A. Fink

W. D. and Hollis R. Bond Professor of English

Director of Creative Writing

(325) 670-1214




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