Internationally known musicianâ€™s poet Keith Flynn, popular for establishing and managing Asheville Poetry Review and serving as lead singer of the band The Crystal Zoo, is set to perform Friday at the Lincoln Cultural Center as part of Poetry Lincolntonâ€™s first show of the new year.
After taking a creative writing class during his college years at Mars Hill, words and rhythm soon became the passion of Flynnâ€™s life, he told the Times-News in a recent interview.
He said once his teacher introduced him to the writings of William Blake and Pablo Neruda, he felt like heâ€™d had a â€œreligious conversion.â€
â€œI started writing kind of like a tree springs leaves â€” it was pouring out of me,â€ he said.
Although Flynn had gone to Mars Hill on a basketball scholarship, he felt the need to quit the team and transfer to UNC-Asheville where he delved into the schoolâ€™s creative writing program.
â€œI began to write every day,â€ he said. â€œI made a commitment and never looked back.â€
Within a year, he began winning awards for his work, Flynn said. He described being inundated throughout his more than 30-year career with honors, including the Sandburg Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award and the ASCAP Emerging Songwriter Prize. Heâ€™s additionally been twice named the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for North Carolina.
In 1994, Flynn founded the Asheville Poetry Review, a publication that has since crossed international lines, publishing 1,600 writers from 22 different countries, finding a majority of its popularity among North American and European readers.
â€œItâ€™s exceeded all my expectations,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s reached a lot of people and has become a very prestigious journal.â€
Most significant to Flynn, other than his writing, is his music, and often, the two coincide as he tries to â€œblur the distinction between a poem and song.â€
â€œRhythm is what makes poetry interesting,â€ he said. â€œHuman beings crave rhythm.â€
For 15 years he toured with â€œblues-metalâ€ band The Crystal Zoo but currently performs with a supporting combo called Keith Flynn and The Holy Men.
Throughout the year he does numerous U.S. shows, even once doing as many as 240, he said.
Flynnâ€™s authored four books of poetry and one book of essays in addition to being featured in numerous journals and anthologies.
His newest book, Colony Collapse Disorder, titled after a scientific phenomenon in which worker honeybees suddenly disappear from their hives, is Flynnâ€™s interpretation of what happens to the planet when each third-world country embarks upon its own industrial revolution.
â€œThereâ€™s no room for their aftermath and no place to put their pollution,â€ he said.
Flynn noted that he writes to both challenge himself and discover his imaginationâ€™s potential.
â€œI write to find out what it is I already know â€¦ to constantly challenge my expectations and raise the bar,â€ he said.
He also pointed out that in order to become a writer, one must understand its accompanying lifestyle, and oftentimes, â€œtough existence.â€
â€œItâ€™s a life unlike any other,â€ he said, â€œand in some ways â€¦ means youâ€™re doomed to do homework for the rest of your life. It has to be something you love, because to be successful requires a great amount of sacrifice, even though rewards are small â€¦ It becomes something you canâ€™t push aside.â€
Flynn will be performing an acapella show at 7 p.m. Friday at the Lincoln Cultural Center. Featured local poets, Devonna Wyant, Shane Manier and Morgan Depue, will follow with open mic night.
For more information on Keith Flynn, visit www.keithflynn.net.