‘The Odyssey’ as portrayed by Joe Goodkin

Posted on Oct 1 2014 - 8:46am by Sherman Jones

Joe Goodkin will perform his contemporary portrayal of “The Odyssey” by Homer at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Bryant Hall Gallery.

Goodkin deconstructs the famous Greek epic detailing Odysseus’ journey home after the fall of Troy and, according to his webpage, presents it in a short thirty-minute time block consisting of twenty-four short songs.

“The Department of Classics is excited to have a chance to share with the Oxford and the university community this contemporary response to one of the building blocks of Greek identity and one of the most fundamental pieces of the western literary tradition, Homer’s epic poem, ‘The Odyssey,’” said Molly Pasco-Pranger, associate professor and chair of classics. “The performance runs just 30 minutes, so we’ll have time for discussion afterwards. And we encourage the audience to ask questions.”

This original work by Goodkin has won the 2003, 2004 and 2012 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award and has been performed in over a hundred different locations across the United States over the past eleven years.

When asked what originally inspired him to write a musical version of “The Odyssey,” Goodkin said that in college he was both a classics major and a musician, and he wanted to find a way to bring the two seemingly distinct fields together.

Goodkin said he “got lucky” when working with “The Odyssey” because it was and still is one of the cornerstones of modern Western literature and is a work he greatly appreciates.

Goodkin said he hopes to be able to bring “The Odyssey” to light for those unfamiliar with the work and to also present it in a new fashion to those to whom it is already familiar.

This musical redemption of the Greek epic is not the only art piece Goodkin has created. Working along with other artists, Goodkin has recorded love songs under the name Paper Arrows since 2008.

The musician’s self-proclaimed “more conventional” work currently has five releases.

Goodkin admitted his attempts to perform other stories in the same fashion as his take on “The Odyssey” were not as interesting to him, so he focuses his energy primarily on what has worked. He said one day he may move on to another work, but for now, he likes his current project and will continue with it until he feels he has reached an end.

Goodkin described himself as a “process and practice person.” He said he does his best to be patient and works hard to achieve his goals. Because of his “resilience against failure,” he is now a full time musician. He said he believes that this is the result of him taking the time to make sure it was the path he wanted, and obviously, it is a unique path to say the least.

By following his own path, he said he feels less prone to burnout because he does what he enjoys and stands against the setbacks that life may throw at him.

Goodkin’s musical inspiration comes from a variety of sources. From the great Greek epic poet Homer to Jimmy Hendrix to playwrights, film-makers and other artists, Goodkin said he draws from a near unlimited source of learning and applies it to his own artwork.

Outside his life as a musician, Goodkin said he enjoys traveling and is a “very amateur” triathlete.

It is a truly acoustic work without the aid of amplification; Goodkin said he believes this will create a unique atmosphere few people are exposed to in today’s world. He hopes everyone who comes to see the performance enjoys it.

The show is free and open to the public.

Sherman Jones