On Thursday night in the Milano Reading Room at WVU, Geoffrey Hilsabeck read from his first book of poems Riddles, Etc. (The Song Cave) and from his new work-in-progress.
Evan Kertman (MFA Poetry ’19) introduced Geoff by sharing that Hilsabeck came to play the harp because one of his idols, Harpo Marx, played. “Whereas some might just rewatch Duck Soup, Geoff took it upon himself to play Harpo’s instrument of choice, because Geoff is more hands-on in that way,” Evan said. Geoff admitted that his harp now sits in the corner of his study, “with the strings breaking, deteriorating like a house plant.” But he did posit that maybe the harp was the source of how he began to tune his ear for poetry.
Over the course of the night, Geoff read poems about his time in Lisbon, poems in which Walt Whitman had receipts stuck in his beard, poems about never seeing the Ohio River, and poem-riddles that provided a bit of crowd interaction. He talked about his former work at Encyclopedia Britannica and how he always wanted to translate Humphry Bogart, but never could get it right. His new work-in-progress explores the history of vaudeville. The Marx Brothers and Buster Keaton lead him to the subject matter. During the Q & A Geoff admitted that when he was growing up he wanted to be an actor. Through the performative nature of teaching and through the subject matter explored in his poems, it seems that Geoff is able to attend to his early as well as his current creative interests.
We thank Geoff for his reading! And we look forward to reading more of his work!