Once in the West, Christian Wiman, 2014
A National Book Critics Circle nominee and a re-read for me, this is a beautifully unsettling volume of poetry by a cancer survivor and professor at Yale’s Divinity School. Wiman writes about the Texas of his childhood, the Chicago of his adulthood (the El, the Shedd Aquarium, the ‘damp and dirtlight of late November in north Chicago’) and the mystery of life, memory, and the soul after death. While the Christian theology is at times slightly off-putting, the beauty of the language and especially its neologisms (e.g. gluefutured nags, water-lunged bus, starkrock quality of sickness, rancid moonlight and mindlice of my insomnia, apocalyptic plie, whatever rivers through the nerves of birds the moment before migration, it matters the matter one mind collects) makes him a poet to be read and treasured again and again. Look for this book to be an annual re-read.