Speaking in the wake of empire, of terrestrial love and of the collapse of traditional literary forms, the protagonist of this collection of poetry reconstructs a world from the language of encyclopedias, instruction manuals, and the literary legacies of Wallace Stevens, W. G. Sebald, and Joseph Conrad. The prefatory lyric, "Burial Practice," imagines the posthumous narrative of "then’s" that follows an individual's extinction; in the poem "Aria," a stagehand steps onto the floorboards to wax poetic after the curtain has dropped on an opera; and the extended sequence of "Circle" poems obliquely revisits Dante's ethical landscape of the afterlife.
Many of these poems were written while Srikanth Reddy worked for a rural literacy program in the south of India, a fact reflected in the imagined postcolonial world of lyrics such as "Monsoon Eclogue" and "Thieves’ Market." Yet the collection moves beyond the identity politics and ressentiment of postcolonial and Asian-American writings by addressing the fugitive dreams of shared experience in poems such as "Fundamentals of Esperanto." Mobilizing traditional literary forms such as terza rima and the villanelle while simultaneously exploring the poetics of prose and other "formless" modes, Facts for Visitors re-negotiates the impasse between traditional and experimental approaches to writing in contemporary American poetry.
“Astonishing in its emotional depth, rhetorical facility, formal control, and lightness of touch . . . fresh and unforgettable art.”—Desales Harrison Boston Review
“A thrilling debut.”—Double Room
“A remarkable book of poetry. . . at its best, it is subtly enchanting and genuinely frank. Reddy’s “here” is most certainly a place I will return to.”—Olivia Cronk Bookslut.com
“A first book worth reading and rereading.”—Gibson Fay-Leblanc Pleiades: A Journal Of New Writing
"Reddy's debut collection is one of iridescent beauty and wistful mystery."—Donna Seaman Booklist
“The good fortune for readers is that Reddy’s reach is as admirable as it is ambitious. Rarely does a first book have such depth and heft.”—Maggie Dietz Harvard Review
"This is one of the top volumes in the New California Poetry Series. . . . [These poems] deserve a great deal of attention."—Ray Gonzalez Bloomsbury Review
The decay of life--literary as much as biological--provides the light by which world and word are seen. The delicate solemnity (and just as delicate, wit) that marks the beauty of what Reddy is doing is tied intimately into these spectral considerations.—The Colorado Review
"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
"Reddy's book is new, utterly confident, clear, true to itself. It is about any world in which any one of us in love can learn something about what has happened to us--a world utterly and deeply known: ecstatic and forlorn. This is also a confident guide to our best life and to the language of that unknown place in which we bring to mind for the first time what we think and feel. At the end, Reddy's book leaves us with a deeper understanding of the wisdom of all good guides and poets: 'Where one goes, one goes alone.'"—Allen Grossman, Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University and author of Sweet Youth
"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