Louis Armstrong

sojourners-louis-armstrong-2016

“Jazz critic Gary Giddins chortles as he recounts the tale, pointing out that if these American Brahmins had simply deigned to take a train south from Boston to New York City, and stepped into the Roseland Ballroom on a Thursday night, they would have experienced the American Bach, Dante, and Shakespeare all rolled into one: Louis Armstrong.

“Born to a 15-year-old who sometimes worked as a prostitute, raised in a New Orleans neighborhood so violent it was known as ‘the Battlefield,’ sent to a juvenile detention facility at 11 for firing a gun into the street—his early years would surely put him on the pipeline to prison today.

“Had that occurred, the distinctly American music that Louis Armstrong created might never have happened. The American songbook, as we know it today, simply would not exist.” [. . .]    –Eboo Patel, SOJOURNERS, July, 2016.

An anonymous artist/s’ work inspired byInferno (2016)

This series of 14 paintings–each painting paired with a quotation from the poem–begins as such:

“In 2016[1], a previously unknown manuscript of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy was discovered in Florence, Italy:  BNE[2] Ms. II I 928.   The discovery of this manuscript has reignited debate about the possible survival of the original version of Dante’s poem, written in his own hand.  Until now, the study of Dante’s poem has been based upon copies of the poem made after his death in 1321[3].  Scholars have found that the text of this newly discovered manuscript does not significantly differ from the other known copies of the Divine Comedy.  BNE Ms. II I 928 nonetheless has unique features.  Perhaps most remarkably, scholars have found that the text of the poem is written in a mirror script, i.e., from right to left.  This blog[4] is dedicated to dissemination[5] of news about the restoration and interpretation of the manuscript, undertaken in the historic Sala Manoscritti (Manuscript Room)[6] of the BNE in Florence.  –Beata Viatrix[7] “

This incipit is followed by explanatory footnotes (1-7).  The artist/s do not name themselves on the website where this is posted: Explicit Liber Erratus.

In an email we wrote to the contributor of this citing asking for clarification, “Beata Viatrix” responded as such: “Those of us who have studied the manuscript do not yet know who made its illustrations or when.   The ongoing restoration might in the future help to illuminate questions regarding authorship and historical interpretation.  We have already found some intriguing evidence of multiple hands in the manuscript.  Those hands are in various states of decomposition, so their usefulness for ultimately identifying the manuscript’s creators remains in question.”

Thanksgiving and the Nine Circles of Travel Hell

thanksgiving-and-the-nine-circles-of-travel-hell-2020“Poll air travelers this Thanksgiving weekend and they will single out the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for particular animus. They will blame the TSA for long lines and inefficiency in order to support a process that has as much to do with theater as it does true security. But, as a frequent traveler and a bit of a curmudgeon before my time—1.5 million miles on United can do that to a person—I would argue that the TSA deserves to occupy only one circle of hell, and a relatively mild one at that. True eternal damnation should be reserved for my fellow passengers. So, in the opposite of the spirit of Thanksgiving and with all due respect to Dante, below are those who occupy my nine circles of travel hell:” [. . .]    –Michael Rubin, AEIdeas, November 22, 2016.

“7 Circles of Library Hell” at Northwestern University

“Periodicals: The most frigid and judgmental part of the library. If you even think of talking or breathing above a whisper, you will be violently shushed (and maybe shanked).”    –Caroline Brown, North by Northwestern, February 22, 2016

The Pineapple Gin Smash by Naren Young of Dante

“Smashes are super refreshing, and thus perfect for summer drinkin’; the key is to use ingredients that are in-season for maximum fresh flavor. When Naren Young of Dante recently came by the MUNCHIES garden, he had the bright idea to combine juicy hunks of just-cut pineapple with pineapple sage leaves plucked from the plant. Add a dash of pineapple vinegar, too, to go all Inception on it. Factor in the spirits of choice—gin and green Chartreuse—and the result is a drink that’s sweet, tart, fruity, potent, and certainly pineapple-y.”    –Munchies Staff, Vice, August 25, 2016

Learn more about the New York City bar Dante here.

Per le rime: Beatrice risponde a Dante by Enrico Bernard

“Una nuova forma di saggio sperimentale presentato come monologo lirico-drammatico sul più grande rapporto d’amore della letteratura mondiale. Fu vero amore? Oppure Dante si prese qualche licenza poetica e qualche libertà espressiva? Un divertente cavalcata al femminile nei canti del Paradiso che vengono smontati e ridefiniti dalla protagonista stessa, Beatrice, che finalmente fa sentire la sua non più flebile, ma dura e contestatrice voce.”    –Enrico Bernard, Amazon, December 1, 2016

Ocean Vuong, “Seventh Circle of Earth” (2016)

“I wrote ‘Seventh Circle of Earth’ [from Vuong’s 2016 collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds] shortly after hearing the news of two gay men being murdered by immolation in Dallas, TX. I originally wrote the poem in tercets, echoing Dante’s terza rima format. In the Inferno, the stanzas work as a network of rooms the speaker moves through as he descends through the circles of hell. In ‘Seventh Circle of Earth,’ however, this grouping felt off, even fraudulent, to me. A persona poem at its core, it takes on the voice of one of the men speaking to his partner. And in the midst of that fraught position, a poem in tercets, or, in other words, a ‘traditional’ poem, felt like a diluted, forced recasting of a horrific event. I ultimately abandoned the poem.

“It was not until three years later, while reading a critical work on violence and scholarship, did I see, more clearly, the footnotes on the bottom of the page. I found myself slipping right to the notes as I progressed, reading them first. They possessed, in that reading, an urgency that began to stitch itself into a fabric of broken utterances fused together by parataxis. It was, in a way, found poetry. That gave me the idea to re-work ‘Seventh Circle of Earth’ into a piece written entirely in the footnote. This time, the vast and utter emptiness one confronts on the page felt more faithful to the violent erasure of the two murdered men. It felt right to begin the poem with its own vanishing.” [. . .]  — Ocean Vuong on “Seventh Circle of Earth” for Poetry School

Read the rest of Vuong’s comments and the poem at poetryschool.com.

Contributed by Su Ertekin-Taner (The Bolles School ’22)

Richard Kostelanetz, Kosti’s Divine Comedies (2016)

Kosti’s Divine Comedy redoes the Dante text with chapter titles from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s translations and RK’s ghost poems.

“The Seven Circles of Dishwashing Hell”

“I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but sometimes, even the most mundane of chores becomes epic to me. Dante Alighieri may have been writing about Hell in his Inferno, but it seems just like dishwashing to me.

Every night after dinner, it goes something like this:

Limbo – Some people think dinner is over. Some people just finally sat down to eat 30 seconds ago. No one is actively clearing the table, but some dishes are in the sink.

[. . .]

Gluttony – So I ate the brownies and ice cream. And it became like the mud Virgil (Dante’s guide in the underworld, you’ll recall) fed to the three mouths of Cerberus.

[. . .]

Violence – A river of blood (how my hands feel right now) is where Dante finds those who are violent to their neighbor. Gnarled thorny trees (how my hands feel) are those who are violent to themselves. The great plain of burning sand (does anyone have any Bag Balm? I think the skin on my hands needs revitalizing!) is what awaits those who are violent toward God.

[. . .]

The absolute center of hell – Like Lucifer, half submerged in the ice lake, one last thing remains in the sink: the soggy, stubborn end of an onion, carelessly tossed in the there and causing a slow drain. I pluck it out and head literally to the TV room, but metaphorically into the River of Lethe, or forgetfulness. Otherwise, why would I do this again tomorrow night?”    –Beth McConnell, A Madison Mom, September 10, 2016

Bikini Shopping and the Seven (Hundred) Circles of Hell

“For every advance that women have made in the past eight decades, there has been a commensurate annual knockback in the guise of that supposedly carefree and liberating item, the bikini. Compare Thirties swimwear with today’s. Admittedly, the old kind took days to dry – probably never completely reaching peak aridity during an average British summer – while today’s versions wick away moisture in seconds. But is that such a big gain, when Modern Bikini makes such bullying demands on body and mind?”    —The New Indian Express, June 18, 2016