Q and A: Local poet and professor Anand Prahlad has a variety of artistic pursuits

Anand Prahlad’s life has been filled with artistic vision, which he uses to write poetry, music, novels and memoirs. A professor of poetry and director of creative writing in MU’s English Department, he was born in Virginia and moved around a bit — including time in the Bay Area — before settling in Columbia in 1990. He’s working on his second music CD and a new manuscript of poems and takes his influences from the American imagery that has filled his life as well as the people and places he’s seen.
What’s your approach to different artistic genres?
My poetry is a process that includes different phases. I get ideas for poems and then there’s the revision phase that can happen over a period of months or years. The same thing would apply to creating different nonfiction. It’s a longer process, but I can do it even if I have other things to do. If I’m teaching a class and I have an hour in between that class and a meeting, I couldn’t work on music because I would need a long period of time where I don’t have any interruptions, but I could sit down and work on revising part of a poem.
What drew you to teaching?
I think I started teaching because I’m really excited about knowledge and ideas and thinking. The process of learning excites me. I’ve always had great teachers, and so I had great role models on how to teach and how not to teach. Being a student all my life, it was a natural thing to do to teach.
How would you describe the local arts scene in Columbia?
It has grown a lot since I came here in 1990. When I came here, there was no North (Village) Arts District the way there is now. The galleries that are here now and a lot of the things like Artrageous Friday weren’t there. As far as visual arts go, I think Columbia has grown a lot in the last two decades. Music is a different thing. When I came here, there were clubs that highlighted acoustic music; there are no clubs in Columbia like that anymore. I think during my generation, a lot of kids thought they were going to be in a band or put together a band even if it was just a garage band. We might just be living in a different age when it comes to music.
Originally published by Vox Magazine on June 29, 2017


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