“Why Roberto Bolaño Haunts Latin Literature”

“A frustrated poet, he turned to prose in his 30s to pay his bills—and shone. Many of his novels may seem facile, packed with talky introspection and postpubescent brooding, but in fact are densely layered tales, with scores of narrators, soaked in erudition and mordant social comment. A ferocious reader, Bolaño wrote with Cervantes, Dante, and Homer looking over his shoulder.”    –Mac Margolis, Newsweek, April 16, 2012

“The 34 Greatest Poets of All Time”

Dante Alighieri

Birthplace: Florence, Italy

Famous poem: Divine Comedy

Famous quote: ‘Consider your origin; you were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.’

[. . .]

Poetry — one of the most important and time-honored forms of literature in the world — brought us greats like William Shakespeare and W.B. Yeats to ancient poets like Homer and Dante Alighieri to American treasures like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.”    –Mo Elinzano, Deseret News, March 20, 2015

Dante’s Inferno – A Modern Rendition

“With your kindest indulgence, Dear Reader, I wish to interpret the work
of the Poet, embracing his views and perceptions. At times if through quirk
or ineptness the rendering fails to achieve any part of this task,

you’ll excuse my attempt to extrapolate, gently, respectfully, filled
with appropriate zeal, a degree of contemporization instilled
in the quest for connections with centuries past. This is all that I ask.

[. . .]

This poetic interpretation of Dante’s Inferno seeks to maintain much of the original intent of the work while updating it with carefully veiled references to current-day political and economic issues. It is written in classical poetic form, with strict anapestic hexameter meter and an ‘aabccb‘ rhyming scheme. Accent marks have been added to the first appearance of many mythical names to assist the reader with pronunciation.”    –Paul, DanteInferno.org

 

What Dante did with Loss by Jan Conn

What Dante Did With Loss is Jan Conn’s fourth book of poems. Central to this powerful new collection is a suite of poems charting the explosive emotions surrounding her mother’s suicide. Other poems range from meditations on South American flora and fauna to postmodern encounters with immortality.

“Jan Conn was brought up in Asbestos, Quebec. She now lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and works as a professor of Biomedical Sciences whose research is focused on mosquitoes, their evolution and ecology. She has published seven previous books of poetry.”    —Véhicule Press, 1998.

You can purchase Conn’s book of poetry through Véhicule Press or through Amazon.

“Ivresse” by Pablo Neruda

“Hoy que danza en mi cuerpo la pasión de Paolo
y ebrio de un sueño alegre mi corazón se agita:
hoy que sé la alegría de ser libre y ser solo
como el pistilo de una margarita infinita:

“oh mujer -carne y sueño-, ven a encantarme un poco,
ven a vaciar tus copas de sol en mi camino:
que en mi barco amarillo tiemblen tus senos locos
y ebrios de juventud, que es el más bello vino.

“Es bello porque nosotros lo bebemos
en estos temblorosos vasos de nuestro ser
que nos niegan el goce para que lo gocemos.
Bebamos. Nunca dejemos de beber.

“Nunca, mujer, rayo de luz, pulpa blanca de poma,
suavices la pisada que no te hará sufrir.
Sembremos la llanura antes de arar la loma.
Vivir será primero, después será morir.

“Y después que en la ruta se apaguen nuestras huellas
y en el azul paremos nuestras blancas escalas
-flechas de oro que atajan en vano las estrellas-,
¡oh Francesca, hacia dónde te llevarán mis alas!”

–Pablo Neruda, “Ivresse”, 1904-1973.

Pablo Neruda was a 20th-century Chilean poet. The poem “Ivresse” is a part of The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, which you can purchase on Amazon.

John Barr’s Dante in China

“In John Barr’s poems, the ancient masters encounter the modern world. Dante on a beach in China beholds the Inferno: ‘Flaring well gas night and day, / towers rise as if to say, / Pollution can be beautiful.’ Bach’s final fugue informs all of nature. Villon is admonished by an aging courtesan. Aristotle finds ‘Demagogues are the insects of politics. / Like water beetles they stay afl oat / on surface tension, they taxi on iridescence.’ And his afterlife: ‘When three-headed Cerberus greeted him / Socrates replied: I won’t need / an attack dog, thank you. I married one.'” [. . .]    —Red Hen Press, 2018.

You can purchase a copy of Dante in China on Indiebound.

Galway 2020: Poet Rita Ann Higgins compares it to Dante’s Inferno

“Galway poet Rita Ann Higgins has said her city has left it ‘too late’ to appoint a new artistic director for its controversial European capital of culture 2020 project, and should set up a team of artists to provide a creative lead instead.

“Ms Higgins, who is a member of Aosdána, has also called on the Galway 2020 board to ‘take the project by the scruff of the neck and come out fighting.’

“The poet has compared the project’s current state to the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno in a new piece of work she has published this week.

“The poem, entitled ‘Capital of Cock-a-Leekie Inferno (9 circles of 2020 Hell)’, tracks the course of the project since Galway secured the European capital of culture designation in 2016, and focuses on recent funding cuts to artistic groups accepted for the bid book.” […]    –Lorna Siggins, Irish Times, October 17, 2018

Dante’s Last Laugh

“Dante Alighieri will forever be associated with Florence, city of his birth and the dialect he helped elevate such that it would one day become the basis of Italy’s national language. Yet when Dante died nearly 700 years ago this week, Florence isn’t where he ended up.

“The story of how Dante’s remains came to be in Ravenna isn’t that complicated. It’s how they came to stay there that gets strange.

“When the poet died, sometime between September 13-14th, 1321, he hadn’t seen Florence for some 20 years. Exiled for life after finding himself on the losing side of a war for control of the city, Dante spent the next several years roaming, defiantly refusing conditional offers to return home on terms he saw as unjust.” [. . .]   — Jessica Phelan, The Local, September 14, 2018

The Social Network of Dante’s Inferno

“The first product coming out from this crazy idea was “The Social Network of Dante’s Inferno“, presented in the 2010 edition of the “Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks” symposium of NetSci and then published in a 2011 special issue of the Leonardo journal. In this work we were moved by the question: is a network of characters following some particular predictive patterns? If so: which ones?

“So we took a digital copy of Dante’s Inferno, where all interactions and characters were annotated with extra information (who the character was, if she was a historic or mythological figure, when she lived, …). We then considered each character as a node of the network. We created an edge between two characters if they had at least a direct exchange of words. Normal people would call this “a dialogue”.

“The double-focus point of the Commedia emerges quite naturally, as Dante and Virgilio are the so-called “hubs” of the system. It is a nice textbook example of the rich-get-richer effect, a classic network result. But contrary to what the title of the paper says, we went beyond that. There are not only “social” relationships. Each character is also connected to all the information we have about her. There is another layer, a semantic one, where we have nodes such as “Guelph” or “Middle Ages”. These nodes enable us to browse the Commedia as a network of concepts that Dante wanted to connect in one way or another. One can ask some questions like “are Ghibelline characters preferably connected to historic or mythological characters?” or “what’s the centrality of political characters in the Inferno as opposed to the Purgatorio?” and create one’s own interpretation of the Commedia.” […]    Michele Coscia, Michele Coscia, 12 December, 2013

W.H. Auden, “Memorial for the City”

Excerpt from Part II of W.H. Auden‘s “Memorial for the City“:

“The deserts were dangerous, the waters rough, their clothes
Absurd but, changing their Beatrices often,
Sleeping little, they pushed, raised the flag of the Word
Upon lawless spots denied or forgotten
By the fear or the pride of the Glittering City;
Guided by hated parental shades,
They invaded and harrowed the hell of her natural self.”

Auden’s poetry is replete with Dante references. See also “In Memory of Sigmund Freud” and, most famously, “New Year Letter,” discussed here and here. Auden’s collected works can be read in the edition by Edward Mendelson.

Contributed by Quinn Cashion (University of Kansas 2019)