Every Riven Thing


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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