Visiting Writers Reading Series welcomes pair of celebrated poets to campus

Alex Hagen

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On Thursday, April 12, the next installment of Whitman’s Visiting Writers Reading Series will take place at 7:00 p.m. in Kimball Auditorium. The event will feature readings from Suzanne Buffam and Srikanth Reddy, both of whom teach at the University of Chicago in addition to writing and publishing poetry and other works.

Buffam, winner of the Canadian Literary Award for Poetry in 1998, has authored two poetry collections. At the reading, she plans to read from her latest, “The Irrationalist,” as well as excerpts from a new manuscript still in progress.

“It is probably safe to say that my work is pretty accessible to a wide range of audiences,” Buffam said, noting the simple grammatical structure she tends to use.

Buffam also discussed the humorous aspect of her writing.

“To call one’s own work ‘funny’ seems to me a bit like calling one’s own face pretty, but I will say that I find myself increasingly drawn to the more absurd aspects of experience,” she said.

When asked about the major themes in her writing, Buffam remained charmingly unassuming.

“No major themes. My themes are all minor,” she said. Buffam went on to reveal that she is “inspired by the knowledge of my own eventual demise.”

Meanwhile Reddy, the author of two books of poetry, plans to read from a work in progress entitled “Readings in World Literature,” which he described as “a series of prose poems about teaching.”

Reddy’s primary inspiration comes from other writers, such as Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, John Keats, Emily Dickinson and Kazuo Ishiguro, as well as readers.

“I write for readers––of course, every writer does––but I write for people who really feel like they live most vibrantly when they are dwelling inside books,” said Reddy.

Reddy also discussed his interest in the ethics of poetry.

“I’m fascinated by the relationship between poetry and ethics, or ethical judgment. Poems don’t tell us what to do, but they can help us to think about how we should live in the world,” he said.

Katrina Roberts, Whitman’s Schwabacher Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of the series, hopes that many members of the Whitman community will attend the event.

“There’s much to be learned from writers bringing their own words to life off the page; we’re so fortunate to have the support to bring writers to interact with community members in this way,” said Roberts.

“April is National Poetry Month, and our dual reading promises to be a wealth of literary richness,” she said, describing Buffam and Reddy as “two wonderful, much-lauded writers doing fascinating and original work both [of whom] bring fierce intelligence to bear in their poems.”