On the evening of September 14, 2010, Fairfield University marked the 5th annual Catholicism and the Arts Lecture, brought to campus by the Center for Catholic Studies, with a memorable guest who kept his audience attentive and entertained with his wit and powerful poetic voice. Thomas Lynch – poet, essayist, and funeral director – spoke to a packed audience of students, professors, and the general public.
The lecture, entitled “Language Feasts: Breaking Bread with the Dead,” involved a complex and thought-provoking mix of poetry reading by Lynch, anecdotes involving his background and involvement in the funeral business, and a discussion with the audience.
Lynch discussed the problems in Ireland of religion tearing peoples apart, and explained his heritage and background with a firm grasp of the culture. It was during his college years that he fully immersed himself in Irish life, when he moved to Ireland to stay with relatives he had never met before then. There he got back in touch with his Irish roots, and began writing poetry seriously. He took inspiration from many Irish poets, but developed his own style and voice, addressing loss of loved ones and death itself in his pieces.
Listening to Lynch’s poetry and insight, I learned that there are many ways to celebrate and mourn the dead, with poetry being one of them. I also learned about Irish ways of writing poetry, and how Lynch’s heritage impacts him as a writer. As he pointed out, poems outlast people, and once he himself is gone his poetry will long remain.
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