September 21, 2004|
4:15 p.m. Reading (ONLY)
Assembly Hall, Campus Center
UAlbany, Uptown Campus
Nick Flynn is the acclaimed author of two books of poetry. "Some Ether" (2000), a collection of 48 free verse narratives about the poet's painful childhood, suicidal mother, and derelict father, received the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award and the Discovery/The Nation Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Flynn's provocatively titled new memoir, "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City" (September 2004), tells the tragic story of his homeless father, a former bank robber, con artist and self-styled poet. Earlier this year, "The New Yorker" acquired serial publication rights to the memoir.
The memoir recounts the years Flynn, in his twenties, spent working in a Boston homeless shelter, where he would periodically cross paths with his wayward father.
Flynn writes, "Sometimes I'd see my father, walking past my building on his way to another nowhere. I could have given him a key, offered a piece of my floor. But if I let him inside, the line between us would blur, my own slow-motion car wreck would speed up."
"The voice here is boiled just right: tough, articulate, mindful, without self-pity." - Kirkus Reviews
"Although it's depressing, the book never seems hopeless, because readers know the author has succeeded at doing what his father only pretended to do: write, and write well." - Publishers Weekly
"Devastating" . . ."ranks with Frank Conroy's 'Stop-Time.'" - Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist
Booklist ranked "Some Ether" among the ten best poetry collections of the year 2000, saying, "At the epicenter of this meticulously parsed, restrained, and quietly beautiful collection stands a young husbandless mother, a goddess, it seems, of life and of death, who eventually commits suicide and forever haunts her loyal and wounded son." The Ploughshares reviewer said, "'Some Ether' combines nakedness, elegance, and emotional intelligence. The poems are beautifully clear in their particulars and meanings."
Flynn's second book, "Blind Huber" (2002), is a celebration in poetry of the life of honeybees, and an homage to Francois Huber, the blind 18th century Swiss naturalist whose research on bees ranks as one of the single most important contributions to the field of insect biology. The majority of the poems in the collection are written from the perspective of the bees themselves.
The Booklist reviewer said, "Spellbound within wax edifices beneath a honey rain, Flynn succinctly and resonantly contrasts the dense and thrumming bee realm with our own buzzing, bittersweet world of avid appetites and aggressions, longing and valor." Former U. S. Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz calls "Blind Huber," "a work of the creative imagination unlike any other."
Nick Flynn is currently a member of Columbia University's Writing Project, where he trains teachers and teaches writing to young people. His poems and essays have appeared in leading literary magazines, including "Ploughshares" and the "Paris Review."