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King University News :: Buechner Institute 2013-14 Lecture Series to Wrap with Lecture by Bestselling Poet and Essayist Christian Wiman April 24

Wiman to Speak at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn.

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 14, 2014 – On April 24, King University and the Buechner Institute will welcome poet Christian Wiman as the final speaker in the 2013-14 Buechner Institute Lecture Series. At First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn., Wiman will be interviewed on-stage by Jane Zwart, assistant professor of English at Calvin College and member of the Buechner Institute Board, at 4 p.m. His lecture, “Hammer is the Prayer: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith,” will begin at 7 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Bristol Herald Courier.

“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,” says Zwart.

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 a 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 four published books of poetry, two collections of essays, and his most recent work, bestselling memoir, “My Bright Abyss,” which explores faith and life during a time of intense crisis.

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.”

Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute and chair of King’s English Department said of Wiman, “Anytime a poet becomes a bestseller, we should listen.”

Wiman’s poetry delves into themes of spiritual faith and doubt. Praising Wiman’s “ear for silence” in a review of “Every Riven Thing,” John Poch observed, “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 an April 2013 review by Dwight Garner in The New York Times, he commented, “I hope he lives to be ancient and writes many more books. He hopes to ‘burn up like the booster engine that falls away from the throttling rocket, lighting a little dark as I go.’ It’s a light, parts of it anyway, that I’d like to stand under.”

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 be interviewed at 4 p.m. and will present “Hammer is the Prayer: Radical Doubt, Realistic Faith” at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church on Thursday, Wednesday, April 24. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dale Brown at 423.652.4156 or visit


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