cover image My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer

Christian Wiman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24 (432p) ISBN 978-0-374-21678-8

Wiman offers urgent thoughts on faith and doubt from the foxhole of mortality. Not that many years ago, the poet (Every Riven Thing) and editor of Poetry magazine was diagnosed with a rare cancer. This book of essays springboards from a much talked about 2007 essay that laid out his condition, his dark night of the soul, and his reawakening faith. Like Jacob, Wiman wrestles with that which he will not release until he is blessed—and in fact he was, his cancer apparently in remission. Readers are blessed with the fruit of Wiman’s pain, doubt, and poetic rumination. His exquisite essays have the intimate but choppy feel at times of journal entries, drawn from the deep and refined by a wordsmith, but nonetheless fragments shored against his ruin. A rare bird who flies between religious and secular literary worlds, Wiman may well be the successor to Gerard Manley Hopkins. If you love poetry, the poet will have you in his preface, at “that burn of being that drives us out of ourselves.” This would make a beautiful gift for someone who is serious and seriously ill. (Apr.)