Bust of Dante, Northwestern State University of Louisiana (Natchitoches, LA)

Contributed by Robert Jones (Louisiana State University, Alexandria ’19)

Nirvana Sued For Use of “Upper Hell” Map

“Move over smiley face. Welcome to the Seventh Circle of Hell.

“Nineties grunge-rock band Nirvana, already embroiled in a long-running legal battle against fashion company Marc Jacobs over its ‘happy face’ t-shirt designs, now finds itself on the less happy end of a new copyright infringement lawsuit worthy of Dante’s trip through the underworld.

“The complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles [in April 2021], claims that Nirvana infringed an illustration first published in a 1949 English language translation of Dante’s Inferno. The drawing depicts Dante’s circles of Upper Hell and, like Nirvana’s smiley face logo, has been featured on the band’s merchandise for decades. [. . .]”   –Aaron Moss, “Foreign Works, US Rights: The 7th Circle of Copyright Hell?” on Copyright Lately (April 30, 2021)

The disputed image was featured on the B-side of Nirvana’s debut album Bleach (Sub Pop Records, 1989).

Contributed by Jared Brust (Florida State University ’21)

Liam Ó Broin’s Commedia Lithographs (2021)

Inferno-17-Usurers-Liam-O-Broin-Lithographs

Irish printmaker Liam Ó Broin completed a series of 100 lithographs based on Dante’s Commedia in honor of the 700th anniversary of the poet’s death in 2021. The lithographs are currently available to view in an online exhibit sponsored by the Centre for Dante Studies in Ireland (CDSI).

“Dante’s search on his journey was to go to the depths of the human imagination. In that journey he reveals himself as one who has a deep understanding of the nature, and importantly, the necessity of the human scheme of community. He also reveals, however flawed the mechanism from a political aspect was at the time, a very clear understanding of the way a city state, and by extension a nation, needs to be structured as an entity for good government – its core must be social justice. Here we have Dante the poet, Christian, philosopher and politician – fused into one.”   –From the Artist’s Statement.

Read more about Liam Ó Broin’s career at the artist’s personal website.

View our previous post on Ó Broin’s 2012 Inferno exhibition at Graphic Studio (Dublin) here.

We extend our great thanks to the artist for permission to reprint the image above.

Leonard Kress, “That Day We Read No More” (2019)

A vengeful sheering Great Lakes wind,
uprooting trees, flinging roof shingles—
split stumps and flayed branches. A whole dangle
of modifiers. Infinitives finding
syntax amid the wreckage. I can almost
make out the spoken scrawl, part malignant rant,
and part avowal, part warning and part advance
directive. Yet what I hear most is boast

when winds subside: Love led me to betray,
and the agony that betrayal once begot
afflicts me now, like you, who’ll stay
to hear my tale. You, like me, who sought
to authorize illicit love—you’re doomed
like some obsessive-compulsive, forever caught

in the act of betrayal. Forever damned.
Give me details, I demand, hoping
our stories do not match. There’s no stopping,
she says—Francesca, mother, who charmed
Paolo with her quizzing glance. I asked
my would-be lover to admit out loud
with certain sighs he wanted me. He held
his breath long as he could. And then, unmasked,

indifference and restraint abandoned, distance
obliterated—we agreed to read
together the tale of Lancelot’s romance
with his King’s wife Guinevere, and the bed
in which they found delight. That pleasure is
now pain—in inverse proportion to the deed.

Leonard Kress’s poem “That Day We Read No More,” a rewriting of Inferno 5, was published in The Orpheus Complex by Main Street Rag Press in 2009. It is available for purchase on the Main Street Rag website. The poem was featured in NonBinary Review #19, a 2019 collection of poems dedicated to Dante’s Inferno, available from Zoetic Press. Many thanks to the author for permission to publish the poem on Dante Today.

Deborah DeNicola, “The Big Enigma” (2021)

“The Big Enigma” is a poem included in the collection The Impossible by Deborah DeNicola, published by Kelsay Books in 2021. Of the inspiration for the poem, DeNicola explains, “In the end of the Inferno, there are souls under the ice. Only their faces are visible and they cry tears that freeze and poke them in the eyes. My poem references this because it is about a heart break that was very hard to get over. I never knew why this person madly loved me for quite a while and then went cold. And more to the point, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get over it for a long, long time, hence, the title ‘The Big Enigma’ and the reference to torment” (DeNicola, in a personal email communication).

The Impossible is available for purchase on Amazon. Our thanks to the author for permission to reprint.

Deborah DeNicola, “Desire with Mountain and Dante” (2010)

Deborah-De-Nicola-Desire-With-Mountain-and-Dante-Full-Text

Deborah DeNicola’s poem “Desire with Mountain and Dante” was published in the collection Original Human in 2010. In a personal email communication, DeNicola recounts, “I am an east-coast person and I was in Seattle and Mt. Rainier was in the distance. I had not been in a relationship for several years and was aware of my own ‘desire without an object of desire,’ as Wallace Stevens puts it. I had been teaching The Inferno so Dante was on my mind.”

Original Human can be purchased at Amazon. Many thanks to the author for permission to reprint the poem.

Dantedì and the Italian Migrant Crisis

Getty-images-unidentified-migrant-tombs-Lampedusa

“Among supporters for the Dante day is Italy’s minister for foreign affairs Enzo Moavero Milanesi, who recently expressed his enthusiasm for the project in an article penned for Corriere. ‘Dante is fully and pervasively part of the genetic code of what it is to be Italian,’ Moavero Milanesi wrote. Given that Dante’s poem is heavily Catholic, and shows Prophet Mohammed split in half by a demon for ‘sowing schism,’ conflating Dante with modern Italian culture reflects ideas that are outdated – and nationalistic.

“This uncritical celebration of the past diverts attention from the dark conditions on Italy’s shores. While Dante’s pilgrim makes an arduous but enlightening journey towards paradise in order to escape the inferno, Moavero Milanesi and Salvini would prefer that the migrants remain in limbo. Rather than supporting their assimilation, Moavero Milanesi has laid out a plan that advises migrants against attempting the crossing. [. . .]   –Emma Leech, “A campaign to commemorate Dante distracts from a crisis on Italy’s coastline,” The New Statesman (July 30, 2019)

Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”

The music video for Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” has drawn many comparisons to Dante’s Inferno for its depiction of the singer’s descent to hell (and eventual lap dance of Satan). Here are a few quotes from media outlets:

“2021 is here, purgatory is (almost) over, and Lil Nas X is our Dante.”   –Halle Keifer for Vulture

“Artists have been imagining trips to hell for hundreds of years without anyone raising too much fuss, but then Dante wasn’t a gay black pop star. Also, as far as anyone knows, Dante didn’t promote the Divine Comedy by selling a limited-edition sneaker made with human blood, which is the approach Lil Nas X has been taking with ‘Montero.’ On Friday, news broke that Lil Nas X and MSCHF had collaborated on ‘Satan Shoes,’ a limited release of modified Nike Air Maxes decorated with pentagrams and a reference to Luke 10:18 (‘And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’) They’re only making 666 individually numbered pairs of shoes, and each one is made with a drop of real human blood. Not surprisingly, Nike wants everyone to know they had nothing to do with any of this.”   –Matthew Dessem in Slate

“In the ‘Montero’ video, Lil Nas X journeys from Garden of Eden to Dante’s inferno by sliding down a stripper pole (truly, twigs is correct in calling it iconic) [. . .].”   –Meagan Fredette for W Magazine

Watch the video on YouTube (accessed April 14, 2021)

 

“Steal this Poem”: Dennis Looney and Arielle Saiber on Inf. 24 for “Canto per Canto”

Arielle-Saiber-Dennis-Looney-Steal-This-Poem-Inferno-24-canto-per-cantoAs part of the Dante Society of America’s Canto per Canto series, Arielle Saiber (founder of Dante Today) speaks with Dennis Looney (author of, among other notable works, Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy) on the 24th canto of Inferno, the first of two cantos on theft in the Malebolge.

Watch or listen to the video of “Inferno 24: Steal this Poem” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Suzanne Branciforte, “Dante’s March”

“[. . .] According to most scholars, Dante is referring to Vernaccia delle Cinque Terre from Liguria (sorry, Tuscans from San Gimignano!) Perhaps he became familiar with this wine during his stay in Lunigiana, in the first part of his exile from Florence.

“It is in that very same Lunigiana where Dante lived that Cantine Lvnae di Bosoni created a spectacular red wine in Dante’s honor. Verba Dantis, a blend of two native Ligurian grape varieties, Massaretta and Pollera Nera, is a full-bodied red wine reminding us of Dante’s intense and passionate personality.”   –From “Dante’s March,” Suzanne Branciforte’s Italian Grapevine (March 30, 2021)

Read the full blogpost, which lists a number of wines commissioned to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the sommo poeta‘s death, here.

Contributed by Suzanne Branciforte