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)

Louise Glück, “From a Journal” (2001)

The-Seven-Ages-Louise-Gluck“From a Journal”

I had a lover once,
I had a lover twice,
easily three times I loved.
And in between
my heart reconstructed itself perfectly
like a worm.
And my dreams also reconstructed themselves.

After a time, I realized I was living
a completely idiotic life.
Idiotic, wasted—
And sometime later, you and I
began to correspond, inventing
an entirely new form.

Deep intimacy over great distance!
Keats to Fanny Brawne, Dante to Beatrice—

[. . .]

“From a Journal” is from Louise Glück’s 2001 collection The Seven Ages. It was published by HarperCollins.

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University, 2018)

“Vita Nova,” Louise Glück (1999)

louise-gluck-vita-nova-1999From Louise Glück’s collection Vita Nova, published in 1999:

“You saved me, you should remember me.

The spring of the year; young men buying tickets for the ferry boats.
Laughter, because the air is full of apple blossoms.

When I woke up, I realized I was capable of the same feeling.

I remember sounds like that from my childhood,
laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful,
something like that.

Lugano. Tables under the apple trees.
Deckhands raising and lowering the colored flags.
And by the lake’s edge, a young man throws his hat into the water;
perhaps his sweetheart has accepted him.

Crucial
sounds or gestures like
a track laid down before the larger themes

and then unused, buried.

Islands in the distance. My mother
holding out a plate of little cakes—

as far as I remember, changed
in no detail, the moment
vivid, intact, having never been
exposed to light, so that I woke elated, at my age
hungry for life, utterly confident—

By the tables, patches of new grass, the pale green
pierced into the dark existing ground.

Surely spring has been returned to me, this time
not as a lover but a messenger of death, yet
it is still spring, it is still meant tenderly.”

See “Vita Nova” and other poems by Glück at The Poetry Foundation.

The Returno to the Inferno by Luigi Enrico Pietra D’Oro (2018)

The Returno to the Inferno by Luigi Enrico Pietra D’Oro (Lewis Goldstein) is a book-length epic poem that follows up on Dante’s Inferno with an original, modern discourse (written entirely in rhymed poetry, the same structure Dante used for his original) about what hell is really about in current times—and it’s closer to home than you think. Luigi is now older and less tolerant of the misery and loneliness he sees in our modern, crowded world. And who would be better to help Luigi see the world for what it really is than Robin Williams (or what’s left of him after his own private hell…). The journey of hellish comedy continues with cameo appearances of other laughter-inducing luminaries and even a popular talk-show host whose guest is no other than Satan—who’s not too shabby as a guest, actually. There are great historical figures, as well, who are fittingly housed with the criminally insane, and just rewards for corporate leaders, religious clergy (topped by a lively Pope, for example, who awaits Luigi in Purgatory), politicians and the good old NRA. The journey is portrayed on a large canvas with vivid scenes and clever dialogue, and for a willing reader who cares to suspend disbelief and accept the surreal as real, there’s a richness here that’s unique and memorable. In summary, as with his previous books, the author manages to simultaneously induce bursts of uncontrollable laughter and bouts of unconventional self-reflection. An exceptional book!” — The Editorial Board of the Columbia Review of Books & Film

The book is available on Amazon.

Contributed by Lewis Goldstein

Dante’s Inferno as written by Dr. Seuss (Reddit Writing Prompt)

In March 2018 Reddit user The2500 posted the following Writing Prompt: “Dante’s Inferno as written by Dr. Seuss.” Here is a selection from the first entry:

And gave poor Dante a very big fright

And scared, Dante was, in the woods called sin

Dr-Seuss-Cat-in-the-hat-Dantes-Inferno-Reddit-Writing-PromptsFret not, Virgil said, and gave him his hand.

‘For together we must travel throughout the land!

Through Hell and Eden, Purgatory and all!’

Dante gasped, ‘But why upon me must this fate befall?

Oh me, oh my, I think I might cry!’

Virgil smiled and shook his head.

‘O ’tis Beatrice’s call,’ he plainly said.

‘Beatrice?’

‘Oh yes! She wishes your spirit to be put to the test.’

Dante jumped, he leaped, he punched the sky.

‘Joy upon joys! I’ve been graced. I’m so happy, I think I might die!’

Virgil grabbed him, ‘Then let us make haste, this duo of you and I.’

And so they walked, en route to limbo.

They braced and prepared to go low. Low upon lows, through Hell and their foes.”

— “Dante’s Inferno As Written By Dr. Seuss” on Reddit.com

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

Kim Addonizio, “Blues for Dante Alighieri”

Kim Addonizio‘s blues poem first appeared in the December 2002 issue of Poetry magazine, and was later included in the collection What is This Thing Called Love (2004):Kim-Addonizio-Blues-for-Dante-Alighieri

Listen to Addonizio read and discuss the poem here.

Contributed by Jessica Beasley (Florida State University ’18)

Andrew Frisardi, “Pilgrim” (2018)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilgrim

He started out a favored son of Florence,
Most bellicose among Love’s devotees.
An arrow early barbed his boyish ease.
The mythic monsters of his own abhorrence
And love swallowed him, spat him out. Adherents
Of papal power and the Fleur-de-lis
Seized all except a sieve of memories
He’d use to strain existence from appearance.

Exile was his stability: the salt
Of others’ bread, his beggar’s role, the cares
He cauterized and bandaged phrase by phrase.
In lieu of pilgrimage he spent his days
Ascending and descending others’ stairs,
As if in restless search of grace in fault.

 Alabama Literary Review (Winter 2018)