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King University News :: Bestselling Poet and Essayist Christian Wiman to Speak at King University and Kingsport Center for Higher Education on Nov. 17

BRISTOL, Tenn., Nov. 3, 2014 – On Nov. 17, King University and the Buechner Institute will welcome poet Christian Wiman as a speaker in the 2014-15 Buechner Institute Lecture Series, “What’s Next?” Wiman will address the topic “Hammer is the Prayer: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith” in King University’s Memorial Chapel at 9:15 a.m., in Bristol, Tenn. Later that same evening, at 7 p.m. at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education in Kingsport, Tenn., Wiman will give a lecture and reading following an interview on-stage by Jane Zwart of Calvin College. The event is co-sponsored by the Bristol Herald Courier.

Zwart, an assistant professor of English at Calvin College and member of the Buechner Institute Board, said of Wiman, “Christian Wiman strings words together with stunning precision in his recent memoir, “My Bright Abyss,” and in his poems. Indeed, language is the plumb line he dangles among the branches of his family tree, along shelves of great books, and through the grave's trap door to eternity.”

Poet, translator, editor, and essayist Christian Wiman grew up in West Texas and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Washington and Lee University. He received an honorary doctorate from North Central College.

Christian Wiman is senior lecturer in Religion and Literature at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. From 2003-2013, he served as editor of Poetry magazine. He is a recipient of both the Ruth Lilly and Wallace Stegner Fellowships and has produced several published books of poetry, two collections of essays, and a bestselling memoir, “My Bright Abyss,” which explores faith and life during a time of intense crisis.

Wiman’s poetry delves into themes of spiritual faith and doubt. Praising Wiman’s “ear for silence” in a review of “Every Riven Thing,” observed John Poch, American poet and critic. “Repeatedly in this collection, in his careful way, he presses his ear against the hive of belief. It takes a renewed child-like faith, and Wiman achieves it through memory and imagination and, one gets the feeling, grace.”

In The New Yorker, poet and critic Dan Chiasson chose Wiman’s “Every Riven Thing” as one of the 11 best poetry collections of 2010. “Every Riven Thing” also won the Commonwealth Prize from the English Speaking Union and was a finalist for the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. Wiman’s other works include “The Long Home,” which received the Nicholas Roerich Prize, “Hard Night,” and “Stolen Air.”

In a September 2014 review of Wiman’s new book “Once in the West,” by Dwight Garner in The New York Times, he commented, “Religious yearning suffuses many of the author’s lines, but the atmosphere is never cloistered or satisfied. “Once in the West” is Mr. Wiman’s fourth book of poems, and his best.”

A former Guggenheim fellow, Wiman has taught at Stanford University, Northwestern University, Lynchburg College, and Yale Divinity School. He lives in New Haven, Conn.

Christian Wiman will address “Hammer is the Prayer: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith” at King University’s Memorial Chapel at 9:15 a.m. in Bristol, Tenn. That same evening, Wiman will be interviewed at 7 p.m. by Jane Zwart followed by a talk/reading at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education in Kingsport, Tenn. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Shannon Harris at 423.747.3524 or visit


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