Christian Wiman | Stop Smiling Storefront | Literary Events | Chicago Reader

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When: Thu., Jan. 13, 7 p.m. 2011

"Five Houses Down" is a rambunctious, thickly worded poem by Christian Wiman, about an old codger who shares the "eyesore opulence" of a car-strewn yard with "ten demented chickens / and the hell-eyed dog." It reared up on its hind legs in the pages of the New Yorker in 2009, badly wanting to be read aloud, and now it's part of Wiman's third collection, Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Wiman was born into a fundamentalist Christian family in west Texas, where, he said in a brief essay in the American Scholar, "I was brought up with the poisonous notion that you had to renounce love of the earth in order to receive the love of God." Though he’s left those high, dry plains and limiting beliefs behind him—and come to Chicago, where he edits Poetry magazine—the childhood landscape he describes with such rigor throughout Every Riven Thing is still where he searches for God. But he also levels his gaze on the city, "a kind / of clockwork / from which all things / seek release," and the bleak, hidden world of medicine—an environment forced on him by his father’s death and his own, rare cancer. Wiman reads from Every Riven Thing at a book release event sponsored by Stop Smiling magazine. RSVP to —Pat J. Daily

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