A Void is Unavoidable

By: Heba Munir


On Wednesday February Third at 7 PM I had the pleasure of witnessing a poetry reading done by Nick Flynn, author of three memoirs including Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, The Ticking Is the Bomb, and The Reenactments, and alongside these memoirs he has had several published books. Fred Marchant proceeded on stage to introduce this exquisite poet, and unfortunately what was running through my mind was that I hoped that this reading would not run late. By the end of the night I was hoping that the recitation of poetry would never end.

Flynn is influential in his presence alone. On stage a middle-aged, tall Caucasian man with a five o’clock shadow, and unkempt hair casually walked on stage after one of his poems was recited as a backdrop to an ominous film of a helicopter in the air. Repeating within my membrane as he proceeded on stage was a stanza from his poem that lamented about how, “This house you grew out of, you grew up inside it”. It was powerful, and you could hear the disappointment in his voice as he uttered those words. He had a way of transferring the suffering that he went through, and letting it leak throughout the listener’s mind. The aura he gave off left the listener pondering what exactly did this poor poet go through.

Dread overwhelmed me as Flynn transported me to a distant moment within his memory bank. That’s the beauty of his poetry: apprehension, fear, angst, uneasiness, and anxiety inclined me to reflect on my own life as he poured out his own. This overall experience was life changing. His voice was not monotonous; however, it was empty if that makes any sense. This  video will help you, as the reader, grasp what I mean when I discuss his overall presentation as he recites. If a voice can be empty, than that was his voice. More probable than not Flynn himself could attest to the fact that his tone while performing was not purposeful, but just the way he sounds. The way he presented conveyed a message beyond a passage an individual could find in a textbook. He had a way of both soothing the audience whilst simultaneously inclining them to think and reflect constantly. Flynn simply had a way with words, and his crude yet dry humor added a lot to his performance.

His performance itself was an art. He used a range of media on collaborations with diverse artists including photographers such as Misha Grifter, painters, and videographers to both keep the audience engaged and set a certain mood to his pieces of poetry. The grim tone he sets is comparable to Tim Burton, and Burton’s artistry as a director. Certain patterns that one caught through his poetry was this listing of words which emphasized the pathos within the respected piece, but the listing was not as simple as it seems. For the listener the lists seemed both jumbled, and as if the emotions that he was going through did not fully make sense. At the end of the day it seems as if through his suffering, some of his questions were still left unanswered. That is what I took away from this poetry reading. At the end of the day one simply needs to find acceptance in the reality that some voids will be left as voids, and some questions will be left unanswered.

Comment below on how experiences have influenced you!

To learn more information about Flynn’s books, upcoming events, and interviews go to Nick Flynn’s official website:



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