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Christian Wiman Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 10.11.11

"I never try to write. If the work isn’t urgent enough to make me sit down and work, I don’t want it.

"I’m moved—and helped greatly, both spiritually and artistically—by the examples of other artists, often in different forms. Stravinsky’s Symphony in C, for example: I love the jagged fluency of it, the way sharpness and angularity combine with mellifluousness and lyricism. I love his formal innovation, and I love that he will not let that formal dexterity trump his feeling, his need to simply sing.

"Or Lee Bontecou. Her early pieces are huge, gray, militaristic looking (often made out of cast-off military supplies), each with a big actual and existential hole in it. They are emblems of great pain and despair. Her late work, by contrast, is made of mobiles at once impossibly complex and almost transparent. They seem pure spirit and pure joy—except that each one has a hole in it. Her pain was not renounced but transformed, not ameliorated but integrated into her art and (I’m guessing) into the life. A great model for any artist, it seems to me."
Christian Wiman, author of Every Riven Thing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)

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