Introductions: Srikanth Reddy at McCaw Hall

On December 1, SAL Associate Director Rebecca Hoogs introduced Srikanth Reddy‘s thought-provoking lecture, “Like a Very Strange Likeness and Pink,” a talk that examined the question of likeness. Reddy spoke as part of a co-presentation of SAL’s Poetry Series and the Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry.

It is a delight to introduce to you the poet and scholar, Srikanth Reddy. Reddy is the author of two books of poetry, Facts for Visitors and Voyager, a chapbook, Readings in World Literature, and a critical study of digression or drift in modern American poetry titled Changing Subjects.

His first book was a Dante-esque journey into the unsettling underworlds of history, place and the self. Jorie Graham called his voice “mesmerizing” and Lyn Heijinian praised the way the world of his poems, a “world undergoing eclipse,” was illuminated by his “wit, intelligence, and love.” This balancing act of light and darkness continued in his second volume, Voyager. This book-length poem erased the memoirs of Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary General of the UN who was exposed as a Nazi SS officer a decade after his recorded message had been sent into outer space on Voyager 2. Booklist called the resulting poems “nuanced yet piercing inquiries into matters of consciences and ambition, truth and power, peace and war…” Reddy took us into the deep underworld of outer space, of evil, of personal and political histories and returned us to ourselves, haunted.

Tonight Reddy will deliver the third of three lectures that he has been working on for the Bagley Wright Lecture Series. Reddy teaches in the program on poetry and poetics and the University of Chicago and describes his preferred mode of teaching as “an act of mutual exploration….a mutual voyaging that often feels digressive.” We are lucky to have him appearing tonight as both our Virgil and Dante, both guide and guided. And I invite you to be both as well. Here, in the dark wood of the lecture hall, I invite you to grasp your walking stick and to prepare yourself for some mutual voyaging into likeness, difference, and the fragile path between the two.

–Rebecca Hoogs

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