Srikanth Reddy
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Srikanth Reddy

Past Event: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

At McCaw Hall — Nesholm Family Lecture Hall

Co-Presented by The Seattle Times. Sponsored by Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry, KPLU 88.5 FM, and Seattle Met.

Srikanth Reddy’s lecture is titled: “Like a Very Strange Likeness and Pink.” This lecture examines the question of likeness in Emily Dickinson’s similes and Gertrude Stein’s portraits as a way of thinking about social identity and difference in modern American poetry.

Co-presented with the Bagley Wright Lecture Series on Poetry.

Srikanth Reddy grew up in Chicago. He earned an AB from Harvard College, an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in English literature from Harvard University. He is the author of two collection of poems and Readings in World Literature, a book length poem. His talk will consider a range of questions concerning poetry and poetics, including theories of likeness, ekphrasis, technology, and wonder.

Readings in World Literature is the daybook of a speaker haunted by the prospect of perpetual night. Cast in the form of lecture notes for an imaginary course in the humanities, this extended prose sequence combines academic satire, a survivor’s memoir, translations from obscure works of world literature, and a postmodern journey through the underworlds of various cultures. Accompanied by a class full of skeptical students—“some in headscarves, some, occasionally, dressed in fatigues”—the quixotic protagonist of this volume undertakes to scale the Tower of Babel that is world literature, and learns, in the process, that learning itself may count for precious little in the final reckoning. “Contrary to the accounts of Mu Lian, Odysseus, and Kwasi Benefo,” this speaker discovers, “it is not customarily permitted to visit the underworld. No, the underworld visits you.”

Reddy employs a variety of forms, including syllabics, terza rima, and the prose poem; his poems are collagelike in their variety and inclusiveness. Facts for Visitors was in part composed when Reddy was away from home, and in an interview he described the book as being about the idea of home. Matthew Miller, reviewing the collection for Double Room on, observed: “Reddy’s gravitational center is Southern India, but the poet’s collecting gaze circles out to Europe and further west, involving a host of references.”

Reddy’s awards include fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Mellon Foundation. His poems have appeared in the anthologies Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004) and Isn’t It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets (2004).

Reddy is the literacy director for the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust in Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Chicago.


by Srikanth Reddy

I am about to recite a psalm that I know. Before I begin, my expectation extends over the entire psalm. Once I have begun, the words I have said remove themselves from expectation & are now held in memory while those yet to be said remain waiting in expectation. The present is a word for only those words which I am now saying. As I speak, the present moves across the length of the psalm, which I mark for you with my finger in the psalm book. The psalm is written in India ink, the oldest ink known to mankind. Every ink is made up of a color & a vehicle. With India ink, the color is carbon & the vehicle, water. Life on our planet is also composed of carbon & water. In the history of ink, which is rapidly coming to an end, the ancient world turns from the use of India ink to adopt sepia. Sepia is made from the octopus, the squid & the cuttlefish. One curious property of the cuttlefish is that, once dead, its body begins to glow. This mild phosphorescence reaches its greatest intensity a few days after death, then ebbs away as the body decays. You can read by this light.


“First Circle” from Facts for Visitors

It’s dark in here, the dark inside of a man
in the dark. It’s not night. One hears crows
overhead, dawn fowl caws, the shod soles again

treading their sunlit plots above. One grows
dotish-fond of such things. Long live the things,
their ways, their roots pushed goatish & gray

through the skull, in this earth that gaily spins
though one has crossed its smutted green threshold
to reign in a crate. We have done no wrong,

my friends, & yet we find ourselves soiled,
sold, carbonized teeth in a moss-riven jaw.
Once I sat on a stool as my grandmother told

me of heaven. She cleaned fish for our living. I saw
how her rusty black knife unseamed the sunset
in each belly—coral, ochre, carmine, raw,

lice-infested sunsets in a pail. So many nights.
Night in the kitchen shack, night at the crumbling edge
of our milk-pond province, a blade, lone cricket

raving in the lawn.


Selected Works

Readings in World of Literature (2012)
Conversities (2012)
Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern American Poetry (2012)
Voyager (2011)
Facts for Visitors (2004) – Winner of the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry


READINGS by Srikanth Reddy
Poetry Society of America: Srikanth Reddy
THE CONVERSANT: Srikanth Reddy with Andy Fitch
WBEZ Chicago: Donna Seaman reviews ‘Voyager’ by Srikanth Reddy
Erasure Reading (1)
Erasure Reading (2)
Srikanth Reddy presents at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat

Event Details

McCaw Hall — Nesholm Family Lecture Hall

321 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109

View directions.

This event will be held in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall. The Lecture Hall is located in the lower level of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at Seattle Center. The entrance to the hall is on the north side of the building and east of the main entrance; it directly faces Mercer St. and the door is under the bridge to the Mercer Street Garage.

Transportation & Parking

By Car

  • From I-5
    Take Mercer Street exit (exit 167) and go straight onto Mercer Street westbound. Turn right onto 4th Avenue. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Northbound
    Take the Western Avenue exit. Continue straight on Western Avenue. Turn right onto Battery Street. Turn left onto 1st Avenue. Turn right on Mercer Street. Continue down Mercer Street to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall, or turn left on 3rd or 4th Avenues to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage.
  • From Aurora/Hwy 99 Southbound
    Exit right on Roy Street. Turn left on 3rd Avenue North. Turn left to park in the Seattle Center Mercer Street Garage or proceed to the corner of 3rd Avenue and Mercer Street, turn left and proceed immediately to the far right lane to drop off patrons directly in front of McCaw Hall.

By Bus
Bus routes with Seattle Center stops include: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 24, 33, and 82. For more information about the routes nearest you, call Metro’s 24-hour Rider Information hotline at (206) 553-3000 or visit Metro online.

Parking is available at the Mercer Street Garage, conveniently located across the street from McCaw Hall. A covered skybridge provides easy access between level C of the garage and McCaw Hall.

Other garages and parking options are:

  • Fisher Plaza Garage, located in the KOMO Plaza on 4th Avenue N, between Broad St and John St. The entrance is at 451 John St. The quickest way to get to McCaw Hall from here is to walk across the Seattle Center campus, starting from the Space Needle. SAL offers a $5 voucher for this garage. Vouchers may be picked up at SAL’s box office or info table.
  • 5th Avenue North Garage, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Harrison Street. This is the first garage you will encounter after exiting I-5 and turning onto Harrison Street. It is a 3-block walk to McCaw Hall from this garage.
  • Surface lots are available on either side of Mercer Street between 3rd and 1st Avenues.
  • Southwest Seattle Center garages, for those willing and able to make the short walk across the Seattle Center campus, there are garages located on 1st Avenue North between Thomas and John Streets (south of KeyArena), at the corner of Warren Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to the church), and on 2nd Avenue North and Denny Way (adjacent to Pacific Science Center).


All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Click here for more information about accessibility and ADA services at McCaw Hall.

Please contact us at or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.