selected works

I still haven’t heard Christian Wiman in person.

My friend and colleague Travis, who helms LOGOS Poetry Collective here in town, had… what’s the phrase, secured? Wiman to read at the February event. Scheduled for Thurs 27th, last week. I’ve been leaning forward toward this since it was a strong gleam in Travis’ eye so that’s, what, as much as four months’ anticipation. Like Christmas. This poet’s Christmas.

Also, Wiman has a cancer diagnosis of some years’ standing. Not curable, thus far for him endurable but who really knows?

“We regret to inform you that Christian Wiman is unable to travel for health reasons.”

LOGOS went on; the gracious stand-in was amazing; I’m honored to have seen/heard Roger Reeves as well as Nate Klug; and I’m sad.

A Baltimore-based friend of mine, recently on the surviving side of her own cancer treatment, won’t be traveling to this year’s Association of Writers and Publishers conference, happening this week. For health reasons — as in her doctor said no in strongly-worded terms. It’s that kind of year, for health reasons.

Still and yet. My disappointment runs on a parallel track.


I have been reading three poems each time I perform my private devotions. It’s how I begin; somehow that felt a better place than at the end (after contemplative prayer), and in between Scripture and prayer is all wrong.

I finished Barbara Crooker’s Book of Kells, and picked up Wiman’s Hammer Is the Prayer, a selected-poems volume.

a group of twenty? poem-books in a horizontal stack on a bookshelf
Where I pick up my morning poem-books. Stacking does not imply top-down picking, however!

I read sequentially, as the maker placed them, which means I’m now in the thick of Wiman’s Serious sequence. I, um, do not care for them thus far. I’ve read twelve of… let’s see… twenty-one. Today I considered skipping the rest, that’s how “do not care” they’re striking me.

And I will read them anyway.

Because I asked myself: what is it about them that he wanted to be sure to share? What might I be noticing?

Selected always means: I’m leaving these things out; I’m pointing our attention to this.

Even if this turns out to be: poets can be exceptionally portentous whether there’s much material for it or not.

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