Underworld Lit

Griffin International Poetry Prize Finalist
T.S. Eliot Four Quartets Prize Finalist
TLS Books of the Year 2020 
Believer Book Award for Poetry 2021 Longlist

"Flamboyantly risky, formally daring and profoundly relevant ... explores transnationalism and comparative literatures while ventriloquizing our 21st-century zeitgeist of restlessness and insecurity."
--Forrest Gander, in The New York Times

"A brilliantly mordant, Sebaldian satire on modern academia."
--Jeremy Noel-Tod, in the Times Literary Supplement

"Large-hearted, time-traveling, translational, metempsychotic . . ."
--Maureen McLane, in Public Books

"How to describe Reddy's strange and remarkable third collection? An academic's nightmare? A hilarious exercise in invented autobiography? A guided tour of hell?...It's a harrowing, Dantesque journey, a class that, perhaps, should be required for all; thankfully Reddy has provided all the necessary materials for us to take it from home."
--Craig Morgan Teicher, in NPR


Underworld Lit: Selected Reviews

The Hong Kong Review of Books

"Underworld Lit is a book-length poem with a more than passing resemblance to the campus novel, and it may well rank as one of the masterpieces…" 
-- Review by Paul Scott Stansfield
 

LA Review of Books

"Reddy would ask us, what is it that we think we know? In this way, Underworld Lit should be of particular interest to readers with investments in humanities education. Reddy’s painfully accurate send-up of university management speaks to the competing objectives of monetizing learning and an ethical approach to knowledge. But the critique is not limited to the present. Underworld Lit reckons with our historical inheritance and complicity in systematized violence."
-- Review by Rachel Carroll
 

Poetry London

“Reddy makes devastating, heavyweight lines of poetry sound so casual and throwaway, and it’s this deceptively light touch, this ability to cope with the horror of our condition through laughter, which makes this highly original book so essential.”
Review by Vik Shirley


The Chicago Review

"What happens after the end that is not the end, in the moment of a return to normalcy that you did not expect to make? In this sardonic (until it’s tender), funny (until it’s sad), and surreal (yet strikingly real) prose poetry collection/fantasy tale/auto-eulogy, such questions are asked again and again, corkscrewing around the same points at different altitudes. Deeply personal confession gives way to ironized academia, which in turn gives way to dreamscape narrative, accumulating course planning materials, texts, translations, and myths."
-- Review by Tim DeMay
 

Lana Turner

"Reddy analyzes the still-contemporary ambition to live everywhere forever, as the modernists did… In Hades, or Malraux’s Imaginary Museum, poets wait to be revived, or even just robbed. All styles and subjects wait on a shelf down there for an explorer to take up again. Reddy’s orphic provocation, addressed to contemporaries, is to return to the depths." 
-- Review by Robert Von Hallberg
 

On the Seawall

"A realm that spans prose and poetry, asking for pause amid the momentum of plot to consider national devastation and nuclear family; pathos and tweeness and grimness; things loved, lost, or bought; language borrowed, revived, translated."
-- Review by Calista McRae
 

Rain Taxi

"Reading Underworld Lit, even the title’s meaning shifts, from the slang version of a course title to “lit” as the past tense of the verb “to light.” Yet that shifting ground is the very foundation of this book, where slippage moves the reader and the unsteady becomes graceful insight…with wit and sorrow, Reddy exposes the demands of the corporate university and the demands of the soul, the play of teaching and the play of children, the thrilling effort of sense-making and the futility of mastery in a complex and confusing world." 
-- Review by Leah Souffrant
 

Literary Matters

"Richly allusive, provocative, and entertaining—a composition that embraces in ways large, small, and multifarious what John Barth called 'the principle of metaphoric means.'"
-- Review by Daniel Tobin
 

Tarpaulin Sky

"An exciting, captivating read . . . a collection heavily steeped in philology, historical cultural criticism, moral philosophy, and death. But mix in a talking, portable airplane gateway and an underslept toddler who doubles as an infernal judge, and the narrative is balanced between the terrifyingly gravid and the darkly humorous absurd. Though in the end, what makes the book so compelling is Reddy’s insistence on intimacy. And complicity."
-- Review by Michele Battiste

 

Excerpts

Poetry Foundation

Wave Books

Harper's

jubilat

 

Voyager

New Yorker Culture Desk: Best Poetry of 2011 
National Public Radio 2011’s Best American Poetry
Publisher’s Weekly Top 10 Poetry for 2011 
The Believer Readers’ Favorite Poetry in 2011

"Srikanth Reddy's Voyager unwinds at a hypnotic pace, as inexorable as a set of philosophic propositions, yet also strangely porous, like poetry. Gradually we come to understand words spoken by Escher in the poem, 'formal objectivity / might be / a personal matter,' but by then it's too late: we're hooked. It's is a work unlike any other, deeply moving, disturbing, and ultimately fulfilling."

—John Ashbery
 


Essays on Voyager

'Voice and Erasure in Srikanth Reddy's Voyager,' by Langdon Hammer in The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time

'The Poetics of Erasure,' by Tiana Nobile in The Writer's Chronicle 

‘Politics, Erasure, and a ‘sometimes genuine music,' by Andrew David King in The Kenyon Review

 

Voyager: Selected Reviews

New Yorker

“Reddy is so gifted that the poems, despite their weighty origins, soar.”
– Review by Dan Chiasson
 

NPR

“The book itself is mesmerizing, and Reddy's lines are crisp and often eerily lovely.”
– Review by David Orr
 

Harvard Review

“Voyager is an indication of what is possible in the form. For its remarkable innovation, panoramic lyricism, and utter empathy, it may well endure.”
– Review by Broc Rossell
 

Ploughshares

“Reddy’s operation concerns itself with making an already existing book—Waldheim’s memoir—into three books, and preoccupies itself with the impossible: making a new text where no words can offer any assistance or aid.”
– Review by John Rufo
 

Lana Turner

“Blind where he would be most virtuous, culpable in his evasions of power, Reddy’s Waldheim is one of the most memorable and disturbingly recognizable characters to emerge in recent poetry.”
– Review by Joshua Corey
 

The Believer

“Erasurists find their imaginative space by reading creatively. One of the genre's most creative readers in Srikanth Reddy. Not only is his erasure, the book Voyager, conceptually captivating, but the writing is amazing. Let me repeat that: the writing is amazing.”
– Review by Jeannie Vanasco
 

Chronicle of Higher Education

“Through Reddy’s ‘erasures’ and the negative capabilities of his excavated text we feel, even if we cannot see, what’s missing, what’s gone—into outer space, into self-denial, into the ironies of history and of the role between the wielders of pens and of swords. We find ourselves—culpable, impressionable, alive—in the human space he has created.”
– Review by Lisa Russ Spaar
 

LA Review of Books

“An impressively dexterous poet, Reddy subscribes to no one school or art, and his talents are interdisciplinary and vast. Inquiry coaxes his poems into their necessary existence, and he rightly recognizes that the routes of any inquiry demand the use of all one’s resources.”
– Review by Jennifer Chang
 

Boston Review

“Srikanth Reddy’s sequence of erasures or writings-through makes for a brilliant political poem—one of the few really notable political poems of recent years.”
 – Review by Marjorie Perloff
 


Excerpts

UC Press

Notes on Composition:
A Note on Process
From Book 1
From Book 2
From Book 3

Facts for Visitors

2005 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry

"In this altogether brilliant collection, the various but carefully sequenced (and deeply consequential) poems unfold in a world undergoing eclipse. It is a transient, unsettling, and fascinating phenomenon, the casting of shadows by shadows (of experience, literature, language, the natural sun) traveling across the totality of the known world: here. The process does not produce negation. It is, on the contrary, an odd plus. And the darkness is never complete; it is surprised into perceptibility by sources of counter-illumination, among them wit, intelligence, and, above all (as underlying all), love."—Lyn Hejinian

"The present is a word for only those words which I am now saying" writes Reddy in this profoundly moving first collection. And, indeed, a search for the nature of the 'present' continuously animates this stunning, anguished yet level-headed attempt to reconstruct a history of our kind as if from some as-yet unknown vantage point. Striving for a complex objectivity, the book explodes prior notions of orientation—geographic, historical, cultural—and recovers from the debris a profoundly trustworthy reorientation, political as well as emotional. Reddy speaks to us fully self-conscious and, strangely, fully innocent. It is a mesmerizing voice."—Jorie Graham


 

Facts for Visitors: Selected Reviews

Boston Review

“Astonishing in its emotional depth, rhetorical facility, formal control, and lightness of touch . . . fresh and unforgettable art.”
– Review by DeSales Harrison


Double Room

“In his first volume of poetry, Facts for Visitors, Srikanth Reddy accomplishes a goal that is usually only achieved by much older writers working at the peak of their powers: he evokes a world that seems full and coherent in its scope—a world that is at once the world we recognize and one that, because fully and truly inhabited by his imagination, is also completely the author’s own.”
– Review by Matthew Miller


Bookslut

“Rarely can poets engage in social commentary with such timelessness as Srikanth Reddy.”
– Review by Olivia Cronk


Redivider

“As the book progresses, it blends prose poetry alongside narrative, alongside stricter lyrics, and the outcome is a diverse living ocean.”
– Review by Jennifer Humbert

 

Excerpts

Poetry Foundation

Changing Subjects

"True poetry goes where it will, and rarely by the shortest available path: Reddy's remarkable study shows how modern and contemporary poets make way for digression, and how their digressions work against familiar categories and hierarchies, reorganizing--as well as disarranging--our senses of reality en route. Marianne Moore's new model of education, Lyn Hejinian's disordered anti-plots, Frank O'Hara's casual conversations, and John Ashbery's figures for drifts and flows all lead, in Reddy's vivid arguments, not only into one another but into a high tide of twenty-first century work. This first book of criticism from a significant poet can both instruct and delight: it might even change a number of critical minds." --Stephen Burt, author of Close Calls with Nonsense

 

Changing Subjects: Selected Reviews

The Wallace Stevens Journal

“Dazzling, erudite, and original, Changing Subjects provides us with a powerful new way of understanding the work of Wallace Stevens and twentieth-century American poetry as a whole.”
– Review by Andrew Epstein

 

American Literature (PDF)

"Reddy's account is a rich one because of how he engages digressiveness as a means of exposition within this study. Reddy recounts multiple eighteenth-century texts with much specificity in order to ferret out their Enlightenment logics and the disruption of these. His overall query into how modern poets challenge Enlightenment knowledge through digressive modes provides much insight into knowledge formation itself."
– Review by Jeanne Heuving

 

Excerpts

via Amazon.com