GENEVA – Harvey’s Tales will host Geneva’s hometown poet, Collin Callahan, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the bookstore, 216 James St., Geneva.
Callahan will read poetry from his first published book, “Thunderbird Inn,” at 2 p.m. and will also be signing copies.
The former captain of the Geneva High School wrestling team, Callahan, now 31, said he didn’t think he liked poetry as an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa.
“I didn’t like poetry or didn’t care about it. It was something to understand and be tested on,” Callahan said. “I thought poetry was pretentious and old. … In my book you don’t have to look up any words in the dictionary. My poems are pretty down-to-earth and accessible … and pretty strange and kind of weird.”
“Thunderbird Inn,” the poem for which the book is named, begins like this:
The desk lady repeats
herself like a telephone menu
as I diagram the fire
exits and security cameras.
The motel pool is cerulean.
The hot tub is out of order.
After the University of Iowa, Callahan went to the University of Arkansas for his master’s degree in creative writing, and where he was awarded the Walton Family Fellowship in Poetry in 2017.
Last month, he received his doctorate in creative writing and English from Florida State University, where he teaches English.
“This is my first one not in a bar,” Callahan said, of his scheduled reading at Harvey’s Tales.
Collin’s collection of poems, “Thunderbird Inn,” won the 2022 Minds on Fire Open Prize, www.conduit.org and his poem, “Deerfield Crossing,” was recently featured on The Best American Poetry blot, blog.bestamericanpoetry.com.
“Deerfield Crossing” begins like this:
Sheet lightning pulses like blood
vessels in the sky above the post office.
It is Sunday empty. I caress the edges
of failed delivery in my pocket
and continue on the acid-
rain pocked sidewalk to the station.
In addition, Callahan’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Granta, Ninth Letter, Midwestern Gothic and Denver Quarterly.
And while he lives in Tallahassee, Fla., at the moment, he considers Geneva his hometown – or actually, the unincorporated Mill Creek subdivision near Geneva where his parents still live.
“Thunder Inn” fictionalizes Mill Creek as a suburb with a collection of poems that migrates away, Callahan said.
“The book is not so concretely placed in Mill Creek,” Callahan said. “The second section has imagery of growing up in the Midwest. I have one poem about Fermilab. … A lot of the poems I wrote on the train going to Chicago and back. … The train is a great place to write.”
Callahan is a longtime friend of Zack Osborne, the son of the couple who owns the Harvey’s Tales bookstore, Chuck and Roxanne Osborne.
When Callahan knew his first book of poetry was going to be published, they talked to him about how to approach bookstores and how to get readings, Roxanne Osborne said.
“The weekend before or after Swedish Days is a great time to be coming out,” she said. “Swedish Days is a thing on its own. You want the weekend before or after so you can get your own audience.”
That Callahan would write poems while riding the train hit home to Roxanne.
“He always carried around a notebook and would write things down – things that he saw or heard,” she said. “His friends used to joke with him that they better not end up in one of his books one day.”
“Thunder Inn” can be pre-ordered by contacting Harvey’s Tales at 630-232-2991.