S 37° 47` 51.962",
E 144° 57` 39.613"

I used to walk those hallowed halls
of brick and stone and pine.

I used to read those learned books
whose pages truths divine.

I used to smell the saccharine scent
of farmers’ fare and crêpes.

I used to hear the rhythmic pound
of student feet on steps.

I used to puzzle fact and lore
with masters of their craft.

I used to laugh with those close friends
such light and cheerful chaff.

I used to sing that battle song
on ovals moist with dew.

I miss those old forgotten days
there, where the sweet wisteria grew.

Kelly Soderstrom,

Where the Sweet Wisteria Grew


Sitting at home in COVID-19 lockdown, I close my eyes and imagine myself back on campus. Strolling through my memories, I relish each sight, sound, and smell of a campus that I have not visited in almost a year. The poem Where the Sweet Wisteria Grew was inspired by this mental tour of the University of Melbourne, Parkville campus and the memories associated with each location. The poem begins in Old Quad and South Lawn and moves through Baillieu Library, the farmers’ market on University Plaza, the stairs leading from South Lawn to Professor’s Walk, the John Medley Building, the 1888 Building, University Oval, and concludes under the (now demolished) wisteria trellises surrounding University Square. Through this nostalgic examination of the University campus, the poem explores the mutually constitutive relationship between memory and physical/social spaces.

Kelly Soderstrom is an American/German PhD researcher in the Faculty of Arts. Her research analyses responsibility and Germany’s governance response to the 2015 refugee crisis. Outside of academia, Soderstrom's award-winning short stories have been featured by Passionate Tongues Poetry in Melbourne and Radio Cavolo in Florence, Italy. Recently, her work appeared in the Anything But COVID-19 online festival hosted by the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne. Her writing is inspired by childhood whimsy, the search for identity and belonging, and humanity’s incessant curiosity. You can find her @KellySoderstrom.