Top 35 Quotes & Sayings by Christian Wiman

Explore popular quotes and sayings by an American poet Christian Wiman.
Christian Wiman

Christian Wiman is an American poet and editor born in 1966 and raised in the small west Texas town of Snyder. He graduated from Washington and Lee University and has taught at Northwestern University, Stanford University, Lynchburg College in Virginia, and the Prague School of Economics. In 2003, he became editor of the oldest American magazine of verse, Poetry, a role he stepped down from in June 2013. Wiman is now on the faculty of Yale University, where he teaches courses on Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

American - Poet | Born: 1966

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Absence Absolute Academia Academic Affected Alive Ambition American American Poetry Anna Hide All Appeals Approach Artist Artistic Artistic Genius Assurance Attain Back Backyard Beautifully Began Bird Bitterness Bound Brain Brains Burn Call Calls Capacity Carve Century Charge Christ Christian Climate Close Color Comfortable Complete Confidence Consoles Contemporary Continually Country Creates Cross Culture Daily Dangers Dead Death Deeply Degree Demand Describing Despair Developed Different Emotions Difficult Dimension Dimensions Direction Discipline Disciplined Dislikes Dormant Doubt Drawn Dregs Drinking Dullness Durable Dyed Easy Emotional Emotional Pain Emotions Endless Endure Entire Environment Epiphany Essential Existence Existential Expect Experience Explanations Extremity Face Fact Faith Fall Falling Fear Feel Feeling Felt Fill Find Finds Finished Force Forces Forget Form Forms Forsaken Fortitude Fuel Funny Gathering Gathering Together Genius Gift Give Giving God Is Love God's Presence Good Good And Bad Grace Greatest Handful Handle Happen Happening Hard Haunting Havoc Heart Hectic Home Honestly Hopeless Horrors Hours Human Human Imagination Ideas Imagination In Fact Including Incremental Indolence Inevitably Inside Intellectual Isolation Jesus Judge Kind Landscape Language Latent Laying Legend Lens Lesser Life Life Is Life Is A Likes Linked Lives Living Long Longer Loss Love Made Make Matter Means Midst Mind Minds Missing Moment Moments Musical My Heart Mystery Nature Notions One Thing One Time Operate Order Original Outgrow Pain Paradox Part Passing Past People Perceptions Person Physical Physical Pain Place Playing Poem Poems Poet Poetry Poetry Is Poets Point Pope Possibility Practical Preconceived Preconceived Notions Preparedness Presence Pride Produce Produces Prose Protected Psalms Psychological Psychological Pain Pure Purge Qualities Quotes Quoting Range Rarely Reach Reaching Read Reading Reading Poetry Ready Ready-Made Real Reality Recall Recognize Refuse Religion Remaining Requires Respond Rest Rewards Ribald Risen Russian Scholarly Secular Self-Love Sense Severe Shape Shared Silent Simply Singular Smell Sorrow Sort Soul Souls Sound Speak Speaking Spirit Spiritual Stake Stalin Style Successful Suffering Suppose Surprise Suspicious Swallow Synonym Talk Test That Moment Theology Therapy Thing Things Thorn Thou Thought Time Tortured Traditional Translation Translations Tripping Tripping Over True Turn Ultimate Unbelief Unbelievers Unconscious Understanding Unites Urge Urgency Urgent Useless Vacuum Vagueness Vast View Walk Wanted Ways Weakness Wisdom Wishes Woke Word Words Work Work And Life World Worthwhile Wound Wounds Woven Write Writers Writing Writing Poetry Less More Hide All See All
I don’t believe in “laying to rest” the past. There are wounds we won’t get over. There are things that happen to us that, no matter how hard we try to forget, no matter with what fortitude we face them, what mix of religion and therapy we swallow, what finished and durable forms of art we turn them into, are going to go on happening inside of us for as long as our brains are alive.
Mandelstam - his gift and the untamable nature of it - was like a thorn in Stalin's brain.
Art is so often better at theology than theology is. — © Christian Wiman
Art is so often better at theology than theology is.
God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.
Mandelstam's style is not singular. He could be stately and traditional, ribald and funny, hectic, elegiac. He could handle abstractions and ideas as well as Pope or Browning but then be so musical that other poems approach pure sound.
There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment. Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.
One of the ways in which I feel close to God is writing poetry.
I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (I know, I know: he was quoting the Psalms, and who quotes a poem when being tortured? The words aren’t the point. The point is he felt human destitution to its absolute degree; the point is that God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.)
There is nothing more difficult to outgrow than anxieties that have become useful to us, whether as explanations for a life that never quite finds its true force or direction, or as fuel for ambition, or as a kind of reflexive secular religion that, paradoxically, unites us with others in a shared sense of complete isolation: you feel at home in the world only by never feeling at home in the world.
It is easy enough to write and talk about God while remaining comfortable within the contemporary intellectual climate. Even people who would call themselves unbelievers often use the word gesturally, as a ready-made synonym for mystery. But if nature abhors a vacuum, Christ abhors a vagueness. If God is love, Christ is love for this one person, this one place, this one time-bound and time-ravaged self.
Poetry has its uses for despair. It can carve a shape in which a pain can seem to be; it can give one’s loss a form and dimension so that it might be loss and not simply a hopeless haunting. It can do these things for one person, or it can do them for an entire culture. But poetry is for psychological, spiritual, or emotional pain. For physical pain it is, like everything but drugs, useless.
At some point you have to believe that the inadequacies of the words you use will be transcended by the faith with which you use them. You have to believe that poetry has some reach into reality itself, or you have to go silent.
Wonder is the precondition for all wisdom.
The endless, useless urge to look on life comprehensively, to take a bird's-eye view of ourselves and judge the dimensions of what we have or have not done: this is life as landscape, or life as résumé. But life is incremental, and though a worthwhile life is a gathering together of all that one is, good and bad, successful and not, the paradox is that we can never really see this one thing that all of our increments (and decrements, I suppose) add up to.
I've never been able to write poetry without having vast tracts of dead time. Poetry requires a certain kind of disciplined indolence that the world, including many prose writers, doesn't recognize as discipline. It is, though. It's the discipline to endure hours that you refuse to fill with anything but the possibility of poetry, though you may in fact not be able to write a word of it just then, and though it may be playing practical havoc with your life. It's the discipline of preparedness.
I honestly don’t know whether I am describing something essential about the way we know God or merely my own weakness of mind.
It's just that different emotions and perceptions demand different frequencies and intensities.
I don't think that someone who does not speak the original language can ever expect to produce a real translation.
The horrors have made the legend of Mandelstam and are inevitably the lens through which we read his work and life. But if there had been no Stalin and no purge, Mandelstam still would have been a poet of severe emotional and existential extremity.
Nature poets can't walk across the backyard without tripping over an epiphany.
Human imagination is not simply our means of reaching out to God but God's means of manifesting himself to us.
I can see now how deeply God's absence affected my unconscious life, how under me always there was this long fall that pride and fear and self-love at once protected me from and subjected me to.... For if grace woke me to God's presence in the world and in my heart, it also woke me to his absence. I never truly felt the pain of unbelief until I began to believe.
I'm drawn to this range, that's for sure, but I suppose the thing that most appeals to me about Mandelstam is the sense you get from every poem that everything - the poet's very soul - is at stake.
I can't think offhand of any American poets who have Mandelstam's urgency, but it's a different country and a different time, and I don't think it would make much sense to say that this is something that's "missing" from contemporary American poetry.
We should be suspicious when God's call conforms so neatly to our own inclinations.
I find myself continually falling back into wounds, wishes, terrors I thought I had risen beyond. — © Christian Wiman
I find myself continually falling back into wounds, wishes, terrors I thought I had risen beyond.
I think of translations as passing some scholarly smell test: you can read the words of the translation and be reasonably sure of what the words are in the original.
Mandelstam was an artistic genius, the sort that any century produces only a handful of.
Mandelstam is the sort of poet who comes along very, very rarely. Even the two Russian poets whose work is often linked with his - Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva - though their work is more "urgent" than most American poetry, seem to me to operate at a lesser charge than Mandelstam.
Sorrow is so woven through us, so much a part of our souls, or at least any understanding of our souls that we are able to attain, that every experience is dyed with its color. This is why, even in moments of joy, part of that joy is the seams of ore that are our sorrow. They burn darkly and beautifully in the midst of joy, and they make joy the complete experience that it is. But they still burn.
To be truly alive is to feel one's ultimate existence within one's daily existence.
Sometimes God calls a person to unbelief in order that faith may take new forms.
One of the qualities essential to being good at reading poetry is also one of the qualities essential to being good at life: a capacity for surprise. It’s easy to become so mired in our likes or dislikes that we can no longer recall that person who once responded to poems—and to people—without any preconceived notions of what we wanted them to be.
What we call doubt is often simply dullness of mind and spirit, not the absence of faith at all, but faith latent with the lives we are not quite living, God dormant in the world to which we are not quite giving our best selves.
I suppose I do believe that the greatest art consoles a wound that it creates, that art can give you the capacity to endure and respond to the pain it forces you to feel. Psychological pain, I mean.
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