The new collection from the author of The Undertaking
If life is pilgrimage, Walking Papers are the pages - the notes on the journey, news of the world, letters of introduction and dismissal - found in one's breast-pocket amongst one's effects. And Thomas Lynch, the celebrated poet-undertaker is our guide through a world that's painfully aware of its own mortality; as he says in the powerfully moving title poem: 'Listen - /something's going to get you in the end./The numbers are fairly convincing on this,/hovering, as they do, around a hundred/percent.We die.And more's the pity.'
In this, his fourth collection of poems - his first in the new century - Lynch attends to the flora and fauna and fellow pilgrims: dead poets and living masters, a former president and his factotums, a sin-eater and inseminator. Faux-bardic and mock-epic, deft at lament and lampoon, accusation and dispensation, fete and feint, Lynch's poems are powerful medicines, tonics for the long haul and home-going:
I say clean your plate and say your prayers,
go out for a long walk after supper
and listen for the voice that sounds like you
talking to yourself, you know the one:
contrapuntal, measured to footfall, true
to your own metabolism.Listen --
inspiration, expiration, it's all the same,
the sigh of creation and its ceasing --
whatever's going to happen's going to happen.
“An artist of great gifts, musically elevating and directing the speaking voice towards a startling power, moving through the accumulation of detail to give a visionary account of the ordinary life, doing justice to its terror and comedy. If it remains the poet's task to say things on behalf of everybody, Lynch shows how it should be done.”
“When roused to anger he can be pretty powerful.”