Poet to bring love of interaction to UHV/ABR Reading Series

Jan. 31, 2015 at 10:21 p.m.

When Nick Flynn, a poet and professor in the University of Houston creative writing program, sits down to write, he doesn't always have a clear goal or message in mind.

"A lot of it is just showing up to the page," Flynn said. "You have to take time each day to write. I don't have any one formula for it except to show up, but I try to maintain a kind of attentive and meditative state. I try to be completely alert but aware of my subconscious."

Flynn is the first writer in the spring 2015 University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series.

His memoir, "Another Bull---- Night in Suck City," was given the PEN/Martha Albrand Award and recently was made into a movie starring Robert Di Niro.

Flynn will make his presentation at noon Feb. 11 in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

The public is invited to attend the free reading.

"Nick Flynn is an inspiring writer who possesses a unique perspective," said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts and Sciences and ABR publisher and editor. "I am glad to know he will be sharing his thought-provoking, internationally recognized writing with Victoria."

Although he has written two memoirs, Flynn considers himself mainly a poet. He was first introduced to contemporary poetry during a workshop with James Tate when Flynn was an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts.

"He exposed me to this world of contemporary poetry that kind of ruined me for anything else," Flynn said. "That was the beginning of me being a poet even though I don't think I wrote a decent poem for 10 years after that. That level of difficulty is something that attracted me to it. It seems so simple, but putting together those few words can be really hard."

Flynn attributes his love of writing to a variety of factors, including his love of reading. But he also attributes his choice of profession to something more internal. It's in his DNA, he said. Just as some people are drawn to science, business or flying planes, he gravitates toward the excitement and mystery of language and its unlimited uses.

It's that diversity that gives language power, Flynn said.He has experienced feelings working on his book, "The Ticking is the Bomb," about why he was even writing it. But as the book unfolded and the story came together, the answer came out of that process. That ability to bring out self-realization is what makes language and the act of writing so powerful.

"It's a moment of discovering something you didn't know before," he said. "Something you didn't or couldn't understand before starts to come together, and a pattern emerges. By working through the language, you end up working through the issues."

Flynn hasn't decided what he wants to share with the audience at his Victoria reading. He plans to read something from his poetry and memoirs, but he said he doesn't like to create a set plan until he comes to a reading and does some exploring and interaction.

"I usually like to get to know the town and breathe in a little bit of the air before I make a decision," Flynn said. "I don't want to set it in stone too far in advance, because it limits interacting with the environment. I sometimes decide about a minute before going up. It will be fluid until that moment, until I get into the room and read the atmosphere."

He's most looking forward to the question-and-answer period after his presentation. Interaction and active engagement is something he enjoys, particularly when it comes to learning why people choose to come to a personal reading.

"I once had a woman in Paris perform a poem by reading it into my ear," Flynn said. "It was part of her performance style. I'd do that at this reading, but there will probably be too many people there."

Flynn has a new book of poems titled "My Feelings" slated for release this spring.

ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2007 and has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.

For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call the ABR office at 361-570-4101 or go to americanbookreview.org.



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