The Sin-eater: A Breviary, Thomas Lynch’s fifth book of poems gathers together two dozen, twenty-four line poems - a book of hours - on the life and times of Argyle, the sin-eater and includes two dozen black and white photographic images by the author’s son, Michael Lynch, and a front cover watercolour by his son, Sean. The poems and images are situated on the West Clare peninsula in Ireland where the author keeps an ancestral home in the townland of Moveen between the North Atlantic and the River Shannon estuary. The poems are prefaced by an “Introit” which examines the nature of religious experience, faith and doubt, communion and atonement.
In The Sin-eater, Lynch once again brings together his intricate knowledge of the body and the soul, and the result is a luminous, humane collection that sees religion as a question mark, not a period. Chicago Tribune
The Sin-Eater is a wonderfully conceived work that has moments of keen insight and great humanity, Lynch uses the distinctly Christian categories of agape love and divine grace to call into question the distinctiveness of the Church. The New Oxford Review
This book offers a splendid melding of language, vision, voice and agape love. It is a gift—a richly imaginative work tinged with rascally humour and suffused with those “doubts and wonders” that produce awe: a reading that is both entertaining and profound. Prairie Schooner
These poems are ripe with physicality and sensuality, fittingly so, given the primitive world Lynch evokes. The language, too, is textured, Saxon and Gaelic, full of curt nouns that can cut your mouth (gob, sup, gulp, lust) balanced by legato, Latinate verbs that fairly sing (anointing, avenging, inquisitioning). Lynch’s poetic lexicon brilliantly conveys the complex history of Christianity in the British Isles—the legacy of ancient tribal languages forming the f oundation of our modern English, then softened by the elegant overlay of church Latin. We hear, as well as see, ourselves in Argyle’s words, for his speech is our own…. Thomas Lynch’s poems revivify the ancient Christo-centric practice of “sin-eating,” effectively presenting it to us in a guise we may not recognize, at first—but it is, nonetheless, Eucharist, by any name. Through the agency of Lynch’s powerful poetic language and deep imagination, we glimpse Christ in the Sin-Eater, as well as ourselves, and come to know him in the breaking of the bread. Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, AMERICA
(The National Catholic Weekly)
Lynch crafts a story of transgression and forgiveness, but, in the end, the true beauty lies in the ambiguity of who has committed the transgression and who has been forgiven. DarkSky Magazine