Randall Graham and Alex Gross, “Da Vino Commedia”

randall-graham-and-alex-gross-da-vino-commedia

See the full text of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s “The Vinferno.”

Also cited at Mae’s Cafe and Bakery in Bath, Maine by Anna Schember (Bowdoin, ’12).

James Merrill, “Divine Comedies” (1976)

james-merrill-divine-comedies-1976Merrill’s collection of poems includes one, “The Book of Ephraim,” which is an account of “conversations held, via the Ouija board, with dead friends and spirits in ‘another world.'”    –Stephen Spender, The New York Review of Books, December 21, 1978

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Mezzo Cammin” (1842) and “Divina Commedia” (1867)

henry-wadsworth-longfellow-mezzo-cammin-1842-and-divina-commedia-1867The title, “Mezzo Cammin,” takes its name from the first line of the Inferno. Longfellow, the first American to translate Dante’s Commedia into English, “was 35 when he wrote this poem, halfway through the scriptural lifespan of 70 years.”
Additionally, Longfellow wrote six sonnets, entitled “Divina Commedia,” which were composed during the grief-filled aftermath of his second wife’s death.
“The six sonnets. . .were written during the progress of Mr. Longfellow’s work in translating the Commedia, and were published as poetical fly-leaves to the three parts. The first was written just after he had put the first two cantos of the Inferno into the hands of the printer. This, with the second, prefaced the Inferno. The third and fourth introduced the Purgatorio, and the fifth and sixth the Paradiso.”    —Representative Poetry Online (retrieved on July 7, 2009)

John Agard and Satoshi Kitamura, “The Young Inferno” (2008)

john-agard-and-satoshi-kitamura-the-young-inferno-2008“A funky and powerful book. Agard takes Dante’s famous poem about a visit to Hell and reworks it to appeal to today’s youngsters, mingling 21st Century street cred with ancient mythology. Kitamura’s stylized black and white illustrations draw the reader effortlessly in.” [. . .]    —Amazon

Contributed by Virginia Jewiss (Humanities Program, Yale University)

“On Poetry: The Great(ness) Game”

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“STILL, however blurry ‘greatness’ may be, it’s clear that segments of the poetry world have been fretting over its potential loss since at least 1983. That’s the year in which an essay by Donald Hall, the United States poet laureate from 2006 to 2007, appeared in The Kenyon Review bearing the title ‘Poetry and Ambition.’ Hall got right to the point: ‘It seems to me that contemporary American poetry is afflicted by modesty of ambition–a modesty, alas, genuine. . . if sometimes accompanied by vast pretense.’ What poets should be trying to do, according to Hall, was ‘to make words that live forever’ and ‘to be as good as Dante.’ They probably would fail, of course, but even so, ‘the only way we are likely to be any good is to try to be as great as the best.’ Pretty strong stuff–and one wonders how many plays Shakespeare would have managed to write had he subjected every line to the merciless scrutiny Hall recommends.” [. . .]    –David Orr, The New York Times, February 19, 2009

Richard Wilbur, “Terza Rima”

richard-wilbur-terza-rima-the-new-yorker-2008

Found at The New Yorker.

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)

John Kinsella, “Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography” (2008)

john-kinsella-divine-comedy-journeys-through-a-regional-geography-2008“This mammoth new volume from Australia’s Kinsella (Doppler Effect) takes its template and three-line stanza from the three books of Dante’s epic, out of order: first Purgatorio, then Paradiso, then Inferno. Each of the three works, made from dozens of separate poems, joins allusions to Dante with sights, events and memories from Kinsella’s Australia, especially the farming region outside Perth, where he grew up and sometimes lives. The poet’s wife, Tracy (his Beatrice, he says), and their toddler, Tim, play roles throughout. Mostly, though, the poems concern places, not people; their ground note is ecological, with nature taking many forms (locust wings… at sunrise over shallow farm-dams steaming already) set against the ballast/ of cars and infrastructures that endangers it all. That motif of eco-protest dominates the Inferno (last blocks of bushland// cleared away to placate the hunger/ for the Australian Dream), but it turns up in all three of these (perhaps too similar, and surely too long) sequences. Like his compatriot Les Murray, Kinsella can sound uncontrolled, even sloppy. Yet he can turn a phrase (Who describes where we are without thinking/ of when we’ll leave it?). Moreover, he means all he says and never exhausts his ideas or ambition.”    –Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon

Contributed by Aisha Woodward (Bowdoin, ’08)

Rolando Perez, “The Electric Comedy” (2000)

rolando-perez-the-electric-comedy-2000“Confronting not the papacy but the postmodern world of the Internet and global economics, this collection of satirical poems inspired by Dante’s Inferno explores the comic and tragic realities of contemporary life. At times graphic and abrasive, the language and style in this stirring collection mirrors the violence and social fragmentation that it describes. The imagined thoughts and interests of Dante as he composed the Inferno infuse this edgy, inventive collection that invites readers to participate in the creation of new mythologies that draw from the wisdom of the past.”    —Google Books

Edward Hirsch, “The Desire Manuscripts” (2002)

edward-hirsch-the-desire-manuscripts-2002 “IV. The Inferno, Canto V”

In The Best American Poetry 2003, eds. Yusef Komunyakaa and David Lehman (see on Amazon)

Contributed by Jean O’Friel (Bowdoin, ’05)