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Author-undertaker to conclude Buechner Institute 2012-13 Lecture Series

staff report • Apr 12, 2013 at 9:09 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The Buechner Institute at King University will welcome back author, commentator and undertaker Thomas Lynch on Monday, April 15, as the final speaker in the 2012-13 Buechner Lecture Series. Lynch will speak at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn., at 7 p.m.

“As we near our 100th speaker in the Buechner series since 2008, Tom Lynch will be our first returnee,” said Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute at King University. “He is simply one of the great orators of our time. His essays and his poetry speak powerfully to issues of life and death. If you missed him last time, make it this time. This is not a program to miss.”

For three generations, Lynch’s family business, Lynch & Sons funeral home, has served the town of Milford, Mich. His deep connection to community and place has made him a popular and provoking poet, memoirist and commentator. Lynch’s work has been widely featured in such venues as the New York Times, the Times of London, Esquire, Harper’s, Newsweek, and on BBC and PBS.

Lynch is the author of five collections of poems and three books of essays. Paraclete Press published “The Sin Eater: A Breviary” in September 2011. It is a collection of Lynch’s sin-eater poems accompanied by black-and-white photographs by Michael Lynch and cover art by Sean Lynch. Other recent works include “Apparition & Late Fictions,” (W. W. Norton & Company, June 2010), and “Walking Papers: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, February 2010). In 2005, Lynch’s memoir was published. “Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans” (W. W. Norton & Company, June 2005) was a memoir of 40 years of coming and going between Michigan and Moveen, West Clare, in Ireland.

Lynch also has written numerous works dealing with life and death including “Bodies in Motion and at Rest: On Metaphor and Mortality” (W. W. Norton & Company, February 2010), and “The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade” (W.W. Norton & Company, July 1997, July 1998),” which was the winner of an American Book Award and finalist for the National Book Award.

In October 2007, Lynch was the focus of “The Undertaking,” a film from PBS Frontline that observed the rituals of caring for the dead as well as the living. “The Undertaking” won the 2008 Emmy Award for Arts and Culture Documentary. A second documentary by Cathal Black, “Learning Gravity,” was produced for the BBC. The film was featured at the 2008 Telluride Film Festival and the sixth Traverse City Film Festival in 2009 where it was awarded the Michigan Prize by Michael Moore.

He lives in Milford, Mich., where he has been the funeral director since 1974, and in Moveen, County Clare, Ireland where he keeps an ancestral cottage.

Lynch’s lecture is open to the public and free to attend. For more information, call Dale Brown at (423) 652-4156 or visit www.buechnerinstitute.org.

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