Last Thursday night, WKU’s Creative Writing Program welcomed the second Creative Writing Reading Series guest, Nick Flynn. Flynn is a memoirist, poet, and professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. His first memoirs were included in the film Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro. About 25 students attended the virtual event to listen to Flynn’s readings and ask questions.
Flynn joined a two-session zoom to read his latest volume of poetry, I Will Destroy You. He shared some of his unique ways of presenting and revising poetry, such as reading poems with his band, Killdeer. He also read other poems that have imminent publication status and, according to Flynn, may never be published.
Flynn used a particular method to create many of the poems he read. He looked at a collage of three pictures and wrote a poem every day with that as his inspiration. “The images were talking to each other, and then trying to translate what it meant to a poem was just a really interesting process,” Flynn said.
During the second session, Flynn read his final memoir, This is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire. Flynn revisits pieces from his childhood in this memoir, focusing on his life when he was seven years old. He described the recurring theme of one of his childhood homes on fire. “The house that’s on fire is something that’s come up in just about everything I’ve written. It’s kind of this resonating image from my childhood,” Flynn said. to see what that fire meant.”
A Q&A followed each session, in which Flynn notes some of what happens behind the scenes of the writing. “I really get a lot of joy out of writing, so I don’t have to force myself to write,” Flynn said. Flynn described how he researches his memoirs, which includes referring to memories, researching documents, conducting interviews, and visiting places since childhood.