A poet walks into a bar

On verse and voices that stick.

What lines of poetry get stuck in your head? That’s one of the questions we asked poet and English professor Srikanth “Chicu” Reddy in “Well Versed.” Poetry lovers and likers will enjoy his answer, plus the whole Q&A—and will find a few grace notes in Alumni News and in “Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap: An Oral History,” about the Hyde Park watering hole that, over 75 illustrious years, has watered professors, plumbers, at least one president, and, yes, poets.

Some of the first poetry Reddy remembers loving is that of Shel Silverstein, whose Where the Sidewalk Ends (Harper and Row, 1974) was also a staple of my childhood library. The sheer clever silliness of Silverstein’s rhymes (and drawings) acted as an irresistible invitation to a lifetime of poetry reading. A fifth-grade teacher raised the bar, assigning us to memorize and recite “Paul Revere’s Ride,” “Casey at the Bat,” “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and more.

“The sun was shining on the sea, shining with all his might,” my mind still talks back at me now at times when, some 45 years later, I look out at Lake Michigan. I returned to the habit in college, learning by heart the accommodatingly musical “Kubla Khan,” and went from there. “Caverns measureless to man”; “season of mists”; “worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie”; “the state with the prettiest name”; “our almost-instinct almost true.” A small solitary luxury, to burrow into and store away such indelible lines, like a squirrel with a particularly delicious nut, for when they’re needed. Which is often.

And sometimes those nuts are where you happen upon them, such as in the unvarnished voices of 20 Jimmy’s habitués recalling a place they love. No varnish wanted—here is pure poetry.

Such sweet sorrow

This spring we parted ways with two colleagues who are now off on their next adventures. Maureen Searcy, associate editor for science, joined the University’s Physical Sciences Division, where she’ll focus her talents squarely on her greatest interests. And after seven stellar years at the Magazine, senior associate editor Susie Allen, AB’09, migrated north to report on faculty research at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. This issue was the last for both. We look forward to soon introducing the editors who will pick up where Maureen and Susie left off.