Christian Wiman, senior lecturer in religion and literature at Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School, received the Sewanee Review’s Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry last month.
“His [Wiman’s} poems have always made use of music and meter,” according to the Sewanee Review’s statement, “exploring faith and doubt alike with beautiful precision.”
“What has changed, in Wiman’s work–what perhaps always changes in what we call a conversion–is not the content of experience, but the perspective on experience,” said Adam Kirsch in his lecture on Wiman’s poetry given in connection with the award. “Fleeting moments of fullness–call them moments of grace–had always appeared in his poetry; but his emphasis previously was on their disappearance, their refusal to stay and last. Now there is a resolution–and I think that word captures the element of conscious decision involved–to find the truth of the world in the arrival of grace, not its departure.”
Each year the Sewanee Review bestows the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry to a particularly distinguished and important contemporary American poet. Previous recipients include Richard Wilbur, Howard Nemerov, Marie Ponsot and Louise Glück, among many others.
“I can’t say how honored I am by this prize,” said Wiman, “and how moving the entire celebration down in Sewanee was. The Sewanee Review was one of the very first places to publish my work thirty years ago, and I will forever be grateful to them.”