Columbus Makes Art Presents Geoff Anderson’s New Book Humming Dirges
On Monday, August 6th, from 7-9pm, the Flyover Library at Wild Goose Creative presents the book launch of Geoff Anderson’s Humming Dirges, winner of Paper Nautilus’s Debut Series for 2017. Anderson is a Callaloo fellow, assistant poetry editor with Flypaper Mag and curator of Columbus’ first poetry shows for biracial writers (The Other Box), translation (Lingua Franca) and immigration (New World). Wild Goose Vice President Amanda Page recently caught up with Anderson to learn more about his work.
Amanda: Where does the title of your book come from?
Geoff: It comes from a line from one of the beginning poems. Being a book that is largely influenced from the passing of my grandmother, I thought it fit the collection well. I think it conveys a sense of very muted celebration.
Amanda: What do you hope readers will gain from reading and/or hearing your poems?
Geoff: In addition to tackling themes from my childhood living a block from Philadelphia, I also explore family dynamics from growing up in a multi-racial home.
Amanda: Is there a theme to the poems in the book? If so, what? Where did it come from?
Geoff: I think it mostly concerns urban childhood and family, especially regarding the passing of my grandmother a few years ago. There’s a lot of death and wounding in the piece, with a focus on the aftermath and recovery.
Amanda: How long did it take you to amass the work that is in the book?
Geoff: These are poems that I was in the process of getting published from 2015-2017. I was informed I won the chapbook award from Paper Nautilus in the fall of 2017 and it just came out in June 2018.
Amanda: Tell me about your book launch at Wild Goose Creative.
Geoff: This is my thank you to the Columbus poetry scene, which has been so welcoming to me. I wanted to read alongside hosts from readings that are still going in the city and invited me to feature as an attempt to give back. I’m sure everyone has their Scott Woods (host of Writer’s Block) story, but he really was the first to get me into the poetry community with features and selection to be the Writer’s Block poet-in-residence for a time. I also credit him for helping me get selected into Callaloo’s poetry workshop last year. Steve Abbott (host of the Poetry Forum) is a constant voice of support, and it’s happened before where we just sit and talk poetry for an hour or two. Mike Wright (host of With Poetry) is a great teacher of poetry, even if he can’t get me into Gertrude Stein, and I appreciate his model of turning his living space into a venue. Hannah Stephenson (host of Paging Columbus) is extremely accomplished as a writer despite being one of the most humble and positive people I’ve met. I’m so honored they all accepted my invitation to read with me, especially as many of them are not performing regularly at the shows I make it out to in the city.
Amanda: You’re bilingual and speak Italian fluently. How does that knowledge of a second language inform your work as a poet?
Geoff: I do have poems that directly confront English and Italian, so I do use both in pieces at times, though in general I don’t. However, I think it’s hard to be interested in literature but only able to stick with one language. The goal is communication with people. Though being able to interact more fully with a poem in its original context is irreplaceable, translation is one way to bridge that gap. I think my expectations for poems changes because of my experience with language. In a sense, every poem is a translation. What you write does not completely capture the idea in your mind. I’ve grown to accept that no two words have the exact some weight or meaning, whether in English or translating into it, or vice-versa. Being comfortable with a second language means knowing when it’s more important to capture the sense of an idea.
Amanda: What’s your favorite thing about the Columbus arts scene right now?
Geoff: Unfortunately, I really only have experience with the poetry scene, and even that is changing because my son was just born in June. But, I would say the number of players in the poetry community impresses me, especially for a city the size of Columbus. There was a time not that long ago that a show was running every night, though I’m not sure if that’s still the case. Regardless, Columbus seems to do a good job of getting artists started. They can begin their networks and find an audience. I’m curious now to see if those in the arts community are ready for the next step, which I believe is pushing for their own development.
Hear the work of Geoff Anderson and other Columbus poets on Monday, August 6th, from 7-9pm at Wild Goose Creative, 2491 Summit St., Columbus, OH 43202. Learn more about Geoff’s work at andersongeoff.com.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.