Arts at Old First presents: Christian Wiman, "He Held Radical Light"

October 18, 2018, 7:30 PM

Old First Reformed Church
729 Carroll St
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Arts at Old First is honored to host celebrated poet Christian Wiman for a discussion centered around his new book He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art. A moving meditation on memory, oblivion, and eternity, Wiman's book sets the stage for a conversation on the interplay of faith and the arts, taking place in the beautiful spaces of Old First's 19th century church building. He will be joined in conversation by Paul Elie.

Seating is limited; RSVP via Brown Paper Tickets required. A wine reception follows the event. Books offered for sale by Community Bookstore. A portion of all book and ticket sales benefits the Old First Restoration Fund.

What is it we want when we cant stop wanting? And how do we make that hunger productive and vital rather than corrosive and destructive? These are the questions that animate Christian Wiman as he explores the relationships between art and faith, death and fame, heaven and oblivion. Above all, He Held Radical Light is a love letter to poetry, filled with moving, surprising, and sometimes funny encounters with the poets Wiman has known. Seamus Heaney opens a suddenly intimate conversation about faith; Mary Oliver puts half of a dead pigeon in her pocket; A. R. Ammons stands up in front of an audience and refuses to read. He Held Radical Light is as urgent and intense as it is lively and entertaining - a sharp sequel to Wiman's earlier memoir, My Bright Abyss.

Christian Wiman is the author of several books, including a memoir, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (FSG, 2013); Every Riven Thing (FSG, 2010), winner of the Ambassador Book Award in poetry; Once in the West (FSG, 2014), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist in poetry; and Stolen Air: Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam. He teaches religion and literature at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School.


Arts at Old First carries out Old First's mission to offer hospitality to creative and art-minded community groups. This includes the annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash, the annual Park Slope Messiah Sing-along, and various other events supporting the visual, literary, and musical arts. Arts at Old First events benefit the Old First Restoration Fund.

Old First Reformed Church, founded in 1654, is a diverse, open, and supportive church community that welcomes persons of every ethnicity, race, and orientation to worship, serve, and love God, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Its 200 members and adherents are from all walks of life and reflect a diversity of backgrounds.  Old First's main sanctuary has been closed since 2011 when plaster fell from the ceiling, revealing wear in the 19th century structure. Listed on the National Register of Historic Place and a hub for community events in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, the building is undergoing a multi-million dollar restoration project, supported by grants as well as community contributions. More at