By Christian Wiman
“Blazing excessive kind” is how The ny Times describes the prose of Christian Wiman, the younger editor who reworked Poetry, the country’s oldest literary magazine.
Ambition and Survival is a suite of stirring own essays and demanding prose on quite a lot of matters: examining Milton in Guatemala, recalling violent episodes of his early life, and touring in Africa along with his eccentric father, in addition to a sequence of penetrating essays on writers as assorted as Thomas Hardy and Janet Lewis. The booklet concludes with a portrait of Wiman’s analysis of a unprecedented type of incurable and deadly melanoma, and the way mortality reignited his spiritual passions.
When i used to be 20 years outdated I got down to be a poet. That feels like i used to be a type of frigate elevating anchor, and in a manner i suppose i used to be, notwithstanding prone to the lightest of winds. . . . while I learn Samuel Johnson’s remark that any younger guy may perhaps catch up on his bad schooling via studying 5 hours an afternoon for 5 years, that’s precisely what i attempted to do, essentially atmosphere a timer each afternoon to allow me understand while the little egg of my mind used to be boiled. It’s a small miracle that I didn’t take to donning a cape.
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Extra info for Ambition and survival: becoming a poet
He must have heard them. He must have still been hearing them shortly afterward, as he backed away from public life and, in a fury of redirected ideals and will, plunged into Paradise Lost. I wasn’t aware of any of this then. I wasn’t aware of much of anything then, it now seems to me, outside of the narrow focus of my own hypertrophied will. I was in Guatemala because I thought a writer needed a store of EXPERIENCE, and I was reading Milton because I thought that the only way to write GREAT POEMS, which is all I wanted to do, was to come to terms with the GREAT POEMS of the past.
A Piece of Prose,” for instance, began as a review of a whole box of books (listed in the Notes) and ended as a general meditation on the prose of poets. It is itself a kind of preface, I guess, in that it offers definitive criteria by which to judge a poet’s prose. I hope I haven’t simply woven the rope for my own hanging. Finally, this book begins with an essay on homelessness and unbelief and ends with an essay on rootedness and faith, begins with health being taken for granted, ends with it being taken away.
Can money obliterate a place, drain it of its life even as it makes it more physically attractive, more productive, more comfortable? It would be disingenuous for me to lament the destruction of a certain kind of San Francisco culture, because I’ve never really known the city otherwise, but I believe my friends who have. ” And who, he might have added, has begun to tell some of her more marginal and improvident lovers that it’s time to think about moving on. Having your chief passion divorced from your means of making money is at once liberating and crushing.
Ambition and survival: becoming a poet by Christian Wiman