Since poets live, move, and have their beings in words, it is not surprising that the titles and subtitles of Christian Wiman’s memoirs are carefully chosen. Wiman, who edited Poetry for a decade and now teaches at Yale Divinity School, recounted in his 2013 memoir, My Bright Abyss, how—in the words of Dostoyevsky’s devil in The Brothers Karamazov—he passed through “the great crucible of doubt” after a terminal cancer diagnosis. Blessed to live forward, he tries to understand life backward in this sequel, He Held Radical Light, which traces his development as a poet, student of poetry, and man of faith from college to the start of his professorship. Many others illuminate his search for this “radical light,” including...


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