Flynn for the Win: Author Nick Flynn Visits Poly


Nathan Darmon

Award-winning poet and author Nick Flynn reads from his book of poems, My Feelings.

Award winning author and poet Nick Flynn visited and spoke at the Poly campus on Friday, October 12. His list of achievements seems nearly endless, including multiple memoirs and critically acclaimed poetry, but most notably his memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.

This work explores Flynn’s relationship with his father, who he met while volunteering at a homeless shelter as an adult. The book went on to become a bestseller and was even adapted into a film, Being Flynn, starring Robert De Niro, Paul Dano, and Julianne Moore.

Despite his many achievements, Flynn offers cautionary words for those aspiring to pursue dreams in writing. He sees writing as “a last resort, if you can’t do anything else.”

Although Flynn recognizes the instability and vulnerability of his profession, he still admires the freedom he experiences through writing. “One of the reasons I write is because it’s the hardest thing I know how to do, and also brings me the most joy. I really enjoy every process of writing, like getting the spark of an image, idea or phrase, and shaping it into a book,” he said.

One of the ways he gains this “spark” of inspiration is through creating collages with everyday items from different towns. Flynn often walks down the streets of a town, collecting debris and scattered objects that he finds. Using this, he creates unique collages that he feels gives a greater insight into the town and environment. He says this gives him “sort of a sense of what people discard and what people are interested in.”

During the assembly, Flynn discussed the variety of factors that contribute to his writing, as well as the many emotions his book evokes, such as grief, abandonment, love, and shame. This raw and honest approach helped students realize more about the nature of writing and inspired new ways of approaching their own writing.

Sophomore Robert Magnus said, “he was the best speaker we’ve had in Chapel all year… learning how he composes his work is very interesting and made me rethink how I want to rewrite my work in class.”

Although his speech and interview during Friday chapel were especially engaging, Flynn’s greatest impact on the Poly community may have been later in the day, when he attended multiple senior seminars. English teacher Sean Mullin believes that these small group discussions with seniors were most meaningful, since, as he said, “the variety of student questions led to more developed insights on the craft of writing. The intimacy of a few people gathered allowed for more exposed or vulnerable exchange.”

The vulnerability Flynn exhibits in his work encourages readers to actively reflect and have an individual experience with it. The interpretation of his work by each reader is one of the most exciting and interesting aspects of writing and publishing for Flynn.

When asked what he wants readers to take away from his books, he responded, “I want readers to have their own experience, it’s not up to me.”