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Every Riven Thing: Poems Hardcover – November 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1St Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374150362
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374150365
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Grave and thoughtful, careful in its acoustic effects, and at times breathtaking in its achievement, this third set of verse from Poetry editor Wiman is by far his best. Though his forms vary, his goals and attitudes stay clear: he wants to see the ugly and the difficult without turning away, to describe them tersely and accurately, and to see the handiwork of God. Early poems handle his own chronic, serious illness, and its grueling treatments: "Needle of knowledge, needle of nothingness,/ gringing through my spine to sip at the marrow of me." Much of the rest of the volume reacts to the illness and death of the poet's father: "Not altogether gone," the elderly man looks "half-childlike... before he's seized again with a sharp impersonal turbulence/ like angry laundry." Surrounded by such failures of body and mind, Wiman (Hard Night) doubts that he can say anything fitting, or even pious, about his God, "that to say the name God/ is a great betrayal"--and yet, he tells us, he must try and try: the religious sentiments sit uneasily with the stark scenes of fact, of bodily decay and environmental destruction, but the poet insists on the reality of them all. (Nov.) (c)
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From Booklist

To rive is to wrench apart, shatter, split, crack, or fracture. In Wiman’s poetic cosmos, to be riven is to be spun around, driven to the ground, and transformed. In his hammered-on-the-anvil third collection, Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, brings fire and gravity to poems forged in a battle, as he signals in “After the Diagnosis,” with a daunting disease, and a renewed connection with God. Exquisitely aware that every thing on earth, no matter how hard used, channels the mysterious force that makes atoms dance and hearts beat, Wiman, in the spirit of Hopkins, infuses molten life into every word as he contemplates searing spareness, most emblematically, a lone, wind-ravaged, stubbornly standing tree. Wiman also writes of bittersweet abundance, with edgy wit in a visit to Wal-mart, and in bittersweet tributes to love, which range from a resounding portrait of a redeemer of “riven things” who lives in “eyesore opulence” to a delicate evocation of mayflies. Wiman’s credo: “For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things / and I will ride this tantrum back to God.” --Donna Seaman

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Customer Reviews

I first heard these poems read on NPR.
Angela Plake
Since first reading this book a year ago, I've returned to individual poems several times, and they hold up.
Doug Fir
Powerful, beautiful, and heart arresting.
Julie O Murphy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Roger W. Wright on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps you've paged through a New Yorker or Atlantic and seen the poems of Christian Wiman. But chances are you've never seen him do a reading.

Last night, while a light snow whispered over the commercial bustle of Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Wiman shook the foundations of a small, non-descript storefront jammed with hometown supporters in a way that made you think that if Poetry were the movies, this guy would be George Clooney.

Wiman would likely cringe at the comparison. But as a globally recognized poet, he's no stranger to praise. Even more important though, like the glowing fire at the core of all Wiman's work; the comparison is true.

Here is a poet that forces you to forget the uncomfortable metal folding chair you are sitting on at this reading, abandon any thoughts that you'd rather be at home, and instead take you on a journey deeper into your own mind and the wider world as well. A journey marked by road signs that just say "Truth."

Before Wiman, my favorite poet was Charles Bukowski. Strike that. Before Wiman, the only poet I liked was Charles Bukowski. Because I always knew what he was saying. Lots of Wiman's work is like that too. You know exactly what he's saying. But when he says it, somehow you see whatever it is differently. You think differently. Perhaps deeper. Richer.

But then some of Wiman's poems travel further and you do not understand everything he is saying. So you stand at the crossroads of this journey with a choice. Do I stop? Because this is not about me. So maybe I should stop?

Or, do I press on? Do I dance into the mystery of stuff I don't know?

In the Q and A at the end of the reading, I asked Wiman, who is the editor of Poetry Magazine, if he understood every poem he published.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Doug Fir on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The poems in Every Riven Thing are spare and arresting. I usually read books of poetry over many days or weeks, but this book wouldn't let go of me. I read it in two sittings on the same day. Another book that's done that to me recently was Cormac McCarthy's The Road. And now that I think about it, the comparison is apt. Both books are searingly beautiful. Both are filled with language and ideas that have been through the crucible. And both are ultimately about love.

Wiman's ear is subtle and beautiful. The language is a joy to read aloud. Since first reading this book a year ago, I've returned to individual poems several times, and they hold up. They grow in the saying, in the hearing, just like the poems of she who wrote about slants of light and Heavenly Hurt.

I think J from NY, in another review here, is absolutely right about Wiman not getting the readership he deserves because of his position as the editor of Poetry. I was among several poets this past fall at a residency and, without letting them see the author's name or book title, I read them two of my favorite poems from the book. They were clearly moved by the poems and wanted a name. When I told them it was Wiman, I watched their reaction change, as if they were putting up their guard. The poetry world is strange that way, maybe because there are far more poems than magazines to publish them.

I've read everything Wiman has written. This book is the most compelling of all. It is equipment for living and for dying.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on November 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Every Riven Thing" by Christian Wiman is the kind of collection one WANTS to read after opening up the front cover of a poetry collection randomly. These theistic, burning little fragments and short poems are unmistakably the real thing. Not one word is wasted, not one sentiment vague, and not one expression of petty irony in the entirety of the collection.

It will be difficult, of course, for Wiman to get the recognition he deserves as a poet, currently holding office as the editor of "thee" poetry magazine in the United States (creatively titled "Poetry"). However many people he has rejected, argued with, whatever this guy deserves recognition for this collection. Next on my list will be his book Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet. Reminiscent of Rene Char's Leaves of Hypnos this is not to be missed by the poetry lover.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wesley F. Stevens on May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading Christian Wimans's "Every Riven Thing" that I purchased from Amazon, I have concluded that it is a book of poems very much in tune with a modern ethos of wonder, worry and regret. However, I wonder if it will receive the attention it deserves from a younger generation of readers. I do believe that it gives those of us who are older much to ponder. I certainly commend it to readers who like to explore different sorts of poetic expression. Those who are wanderers in the world, or simply explorers of a wide range of literary works, may identify with the poems of Christian Wiman. They may, through such sharply tasting verses, come upon passages that help them experience moments of a companion angst in a largely impersonal world. I like to page through such writings. For those explorers of modern verse who seek a way beyond traditional writing, I recommend this unique collection. Wesley Stevens
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