Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Review - Bikeman by Thomas F. Flynn

Bikeman (An Epic Poem)
By Thomas F. Flynn
Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC
Copyright 2008; 76 pages Early Review

Close proximity to any event of historic significance must give one a more profound view and enhanced understanding of it than those outside its perimeter. I cannot imagine the sense of loss, disorientation, panic and grief suffered on that day in September when the World Trade buildings fell. I retain my own feelings regarding 911 but they cannot match the intensity of emotions of those living in New York at the time.

Through his poetry Thomas F. Flynn attempts to reveal a ground level glimpse of his actions, and more importantly his emotions, on that tragic day. His prose is both genuine and insightful and like any good writer he has the ability to turn a phrase that the reader will remember. It did not, however, have the impact I expected. It did not jar me to my knees in sorrow or bring me to tears as I thought it might. Rather, more subtle emotions were at play here. His poetry reports the swift changes that took place from the mundane of the day-to-day to extraordinary feats of bravery and sacrifice to destruction, incomprehension, and loss of life.

In my opinion, Flynn’s poetry fails to match the degree of magnitude and portray the intense and painful sorrow the events expressed. But, then again, few mortals, let alone poets, can. I imagine this work was in some ways as difficult to write as the experience itself. How many of us would be brave enough to dredge up those memories and re-live them for the entire world to see? For that reason alone this work demands our respect.

Bikeman is a fine epic poem of many dimensions with several different components. Save the first, which is a soliloquy of his emotional experience, each describes an event that Flynn endured on that fateful day. It is literally full of grit, and grief and raw emotion. While not my idea of exceptional poetry it should be read for its historic value and it’s first hand account of one of the most tragic episodes in American history. It is, in small measure, a single piece of the total chaotic story that none of us will ever forget and few of us could impart so well.

Three out of five stars

The Alternative
Southeastern Wisconsin
June 1st, 2008

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