Thomas Lynch does something absolutely amazing in his memoir, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. He takes a job that most people don’t think about – and when they do it’s not for happy or positive reasons – and takes you down a winding path of stories about his life and the lessons he has learned over the years.
For being a poet, he isn’t heavy with the fluff and romance most people associate with poetry. His writing is very clear and concise, with straight forward similes, metaphors, and images that pack a punch. The details that are given are precise and paint a clear picture without being too grandiose. He lets the weight of the stories drive the book forward, not his ability to write. Don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t write. He is extremely talented and an expert when it comes to pen and paper.
Thomas Lynch visited, read his poetry and segments of his memoir to students in the Oakland Center on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Part of the requirements to get a degree in Creative Writing is to take a specific track, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or screen writing. Although I chose to take Fiction, I was also required to try other genres. I gave both poetry and screen writing a shot, and I can say definitively that each style of writing requires a different set of skills and a different mindset to write effectively. It’s difficult to switch between the two.
Which is why Thomas Lynch is master of writing. Although he started off as a poet, he has expanded his skills to write fiction, memoirs, a book of essays, and even a play. As Brian Connery, an English professor at Oakland University said in his opening statements during Lynch’s reading, “he turned to prose with a poet’s precision.”
However, what makes Lynch unique is not his astounding ability to write in any form he wishes. It is his unique job as an undertaker that gives his poetry and fiction a new life of its own.
Lynch graced Oakland University with his presence October 26-27, giving discussions to the medical school, a craft talk on writing, and ending with an hour long reading of poetry and excerpts from his memoir The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade. Needless to say, he was very generous with his time, and everyone who attended his events were very thankful.