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Voices and Verses

National Poetry Month: “Killdeer” By Nick Flynn

The Houston poet reads a poem inspired by a broken wing dance.


Nick Flynn


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In this sound portrait, we meet poet Nick Flynn. He talks about his relationship to poetry, how poems can activate deep emotional states and writing as a child. He reads his poem, "Killdeer."

Nick Flynn has worked as a ship's captain, an electrician and a caseworker with homeless adults. He is the author of 11 books, and his work has been translated into 15 languages. His honors include two PEN prizes, a Guggenheim Fellowship and finalist for France's Prix Femina. He served as executive producer and artistic collaborator on the 2012 Focus Features film, Being Flynn, based on his memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. Dividing his time between Houston and Brooklyn, he is a professor in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, where he is in residence each spring. His forthcoming book, I Will Destroy You, will be published this fall by Graywolf Press.



You know how it pretends
to have a broken wing to
lure predators away from its
nest, how it staggers just out of
reach? If, at this moment,
you're feeling metaphorical,
nest can be the whatever
inside us that we think needs
protection, the whatever that is
small & hasn't yet found its
way. Like us, it has lived so long
on scraps, on what others have
left behind, it thinks it could live
on air, on words, forever almost,
it thinks it would be better to let
the predator kill it than to turn
its back on that child again,
forgetting that one lives inside
the other.


This poem is reprinted with permission of the author.

Music used: Seven League Boots (excerpt), Zinc (excerpt) and Hello Night (excerpt) by Zoë Keating from Into the Trees

To learn more about this series, go here.

Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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