"People are scared of poetry," Vijay Seshadri told students and faculty members, who gathered in the Harris House living room Jan. 23 to listen to the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. "But just because it's complex doesn't mean it has to be serious."
For Seshadri, poetry isn't necessarily difficult or abstruse; instead, he told students, he thinks of poetry as entertainment.
Seshadri came to the U.S. with his parents when he was five years old. He draws inspiration from his own life — particularly his childhood in Columbus, OH, where his father was a chemistry professor at Ohio State University. At Hotchkiss, Seshadri read a selection of works that reflect his diverse influences — from a meditation on the story of the three little pigs to a poem about a worm with jellyfish genes that produces translucent silk, inspired by an article in a science magazine.
He has published three books: 3 Sections, which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2014; The Long Meadow, which won the James Laughlin Award in 2004; and Wild Kingdom. Writing in The New Yorker,Writing in The New Yorker, Alice Quinn, executive director of the Poetry Society of America, described his work this way: "Appreciative readers of Seshadri's poems can recognize his expert assimilation of American poetry from Frost to Lowell, Bishop, and Ashbery, their tutelary spirits resplendently alive in a tradition he himself is significantly shaping with his own alchemical brand of poetic magic."