Cazenovia Caz Forum hosts Thomas Flynn
By Carissa Wheeler
Sept. 11, 2011, the 10-year anniversary of the day that shocked our nation, saw the first Cazenovia Forum event of the fall season.
The meeting followed the 7 p.m. candlelight vigil, organized by members of Project Café, at Memorial Park, and provided a speaker who had been witness to the events in New York City. Thomas Flynn, a journalist and the author of the epic poem “Bikeman,” spoke at Cazenovia’s Presbyterian Church Meeting House about his experiences.
Flynn was in New York City the fateful day that the twin towers collapsed. He recalled for the audience the reaction, first as the city was alive with confusion and people, and later when it all went quiet.
A former writer and producer at CBS, a producer for Dan Rather, a founding member of “48 Hours,” and a producer for Steve Kroft at “60 Minutes,” Flynn could not fight his urge to pursue the story unfolding. Little did he know what he was in for at the time.
After an introduction by Cindy Sutton, president of Cazenovia Forum, Flynn read excerpts from the beginning and the end of his book-length poem. He accompanied the poetry with commentary that provided additional context and recollections.
As he read, Flynn’s charismatic manner at the podium drew every eye and ear from the full house of Cazenovia residents. He made jokes to lighten the mood, but the words from his book were sobering.
Flynn was an observer, and with little idea of what to expect, a participant as well. He provided listeners with a fantastic glance into a time that the nation saw and felt, but few experienced first hand.
His first-person, present-tense writing in “Bikeman,” brings the reader to New York City and the pain that we collectively felt into perspective. “I wanted you to be with me,” Flynn said to Sunday’s audience, after he was asked why chose to write the poem the way he did. “Right there, as we went through that hell. I wanted to make it our story.”