‘Called to witness and perhaps ease’

Christian Wiman’s recent “Issues of Blood” essay is a show-stopper. Lori read it and encouraged me to do the same. The piece from the former editor of Poetry magazine starts with an injured dog and ends with a Holocaust victim.

“Few of us will ever be called to witness to world pain—to weltschmerz—as Etty [Etty Hillesum, whose work Wiman teaches at Yale Divinity School] was called, but I feel sure that there is some one pain to which every one of us is called to witness and perhaps ease,” Wiman writes. “It might be as simple as some phone call to a family member you haven’t spoken to in too long, it might be some thorn in the heart of a friend to whom you have not paid sufficient attention, it might be some wholly ordinary encounter you have in the next few hours of this wholly ordinary day—when suddenly you feel some power going out of you.”

Also in the poetry-meets-religion vein, poet Lindsey Weishar writes: “I have come to realize the cowardice of sidestepping revision. … My task is to acknowledge my broken humanity, and to say yes to being broken further in the act of writing.”

 

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