“It’s hard for me to pick a favorite book of his — it’s usually the latest one I’ve read,” said Nick Montemarano, professor of English at Franklin & Marshall College, talking about writer Nick Flynn, who comes to campus Oct. 24.
Flynn will deliver F&M's Hausman Lecture at the Ann & Richard Barshinger Center for Musical Arts. Established through an endowment by Richard Hausman '50, P'85 and Edna Hausman P'85, the lecture series has brought prominent writers to campus for lectures, readings and workshops since 1982.
A professor of creative writing at the University of Houston, Flynn writes poetry and nonfiction.
“He’s an important writer, and equally talented and powerful in both genres. That’s rare,” Montemarano said. “Flynn’s writing shows how life can be very complicated, but that we can survive it. And yet, he doesn’t write a sentimental story. There’s no expected redemption or feeling of despair or hope, but rather the sentiment that life goes on.”
Flynn seeks discovery in his writing. In an interview, he said, “I let the writing determine which direction it should go in, what it wants to be. I don’t think it’s best for my writing to let my conscious, willful mind be in control.”
Flynn is author of three memoirs, "The Reenactments," "The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment," and "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City," which has been made into a film, "Being Flynn," starring Robert DeNiro as Flynn’s father, Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano. He is the author of four books of poetry, "My Feelings," "The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands," "Some Ether," which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and "Blind Huber."
Flynn's fellowships include the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, the Amy Lowell Trust, and the Fine Arts Work Center. His poems, essays, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” and The New York Times Book Review.
Montemarano often teaches Flynn’s work in his classes. “It seems like his work resonates well with students. We learn about how the writer has a core story that he keeps coming back to and circling in different ways, which shows that there is more than one way to tell a story,” Montemarano said.
For aspiring writers, Flynn advises, “Find whatever it is that brings joy into your writing (maybe in your life) and go toward that. Trust your subconscious to signal what you are ready to work on. Suffering and struggle and despair sometimes line the path to joy.”
Nick Flynn will deliver a craft talk at the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 24. The Hausman Lecture is 8 p.m., Oct. 24 in the Barshinger Center for Musical Arts. Afterward, Flynn will take audience questions, and then sign copies of his books. The lecture is free and open to the public.