JustPeace and Chris Wiman

On November 12 and 13 I attended the 10th Anniversary Gathering of JustPeace, the United Methodist Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation. About 35 of us reflected on the first ten years with Director Tom Porter, his associate Stephanie Hixon, and current and former staff members, along with others from around the country.

As always, our conversations were at round tables and enriched by ritual and symbol. Marcia McFee led us, as she often has, with song, movement, symbols, and words that make this gathering very special.

In the picture, Tom Porter is across the way with red tie, Marcia McFee is next to the screen. Words capsulizing our reflections concerning various aspects of our reflection and planning were written on ribbons and attached to a hoop on the table.

In the center of the table was a fused glass bowl made by Meredith Vanderminden, a pastor and glass worker in Lake George, New York. Here is a picture of it on the table I made for JustPeace a few years back and which has been used at many JustPeace gatherings.

fused glass bowl made by Meredith Vanderminden

On the heels of this gathering I then had the wonderful good fortune to have a day at Andover Newton Theological School with Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry and author of some very powerful poetry.

During the day, chaired by Mark Burrows, Professor of Theology at ANTS, Chris reflected on his new book, Every Riven Thing, and on the theological and spiritual issues in his poetry. Raised in a fundamentalist family in west Texas, he found no source of sustenance in Christianity or any other faith for some years.

The confluence of experiencing a powerful love and also receiving a diagnosis of an incurable form of leukemia drove him to search for a language to struggle with the deepest issues we face in life. In his poetry and in renewed religious practice he has found a way that speaks deeply to me and to many other people.

The day was additionally enriching because Sylvia’s art works spoke to me from their many places on campus. Christ read his poetry in the Meetinghouse, which Sylvia and I were instrumental in restoring to its many uses today.

It was a joy to find a poet who is writing the kinds of things that speak to my own frame of life and thought in a pattern that finds respect and support in wider swaths of the poetry reading public. I will reflect more on Chris’s work later.

Meanwhile, if poetry is an avenue of your delight, get hold of Every Riven Thing. Meanwhile, I leave soon for surgery of my own to deal with a different form of cancer. I am grateful for the support of so many family and friends. I will try to get back to writing in two weeks.

Chris Wiman Speaks in the Meetinghouse
Chris Wiman Speaks in the Meetinghouse

3 thoughts on “JustPeace and Chris Wiman”

  1. Bill, how are you? Chris told me last month at Coffee with Poets that you were likely to have surgery but I was caught up in my own entanglements and never got back to you. I am sorry to have waiting so long.
    Very interesting that you met Chris Wiman. He’s rejected my poems, so I’m not much of a fan, I guess. His editorship has come in for much criticism, how much of it deserved, I don’t know, as I no longer read POETRY. Fred Chappell had a rather spirited exchange with him recently. I didn’t know he had been ill.
    Sounds like you have stayed active. I still plan to run your Christmas poem soon. I’ve been in SW Ga. with family. I wish you could come to the Poets gathering this Wed. at City Lights.
    Take care, Kay

  2. Beautiful reflection on a wonderful, spirited day at Andover Newton. Of course, you, Bill, were one of the reasons for the “deepening” we all felt, immersed in Chris’s poetry and shaped by his profound mind and spirit. And yours!


  3. That type of meeting is so enjoyable, as well as worth while. I forwarded your blog to Tom Porter in case he isn’t on your blog.

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