Seth Steinzor, “To Join the Lost” (2010)

seth-steinzor-to-join-the-lost“Dante’s Divine Comedy — that poetic tour of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise written in the 14th century — never seems to get old. The latest proof is the new video game by Electronic Arts, Dante’s Inferno. As in the poem, the game’s Dante character and his guide, Virgil, travel down through the nine circles of Hell, hearing sinners’ stories and witnessing their horrifying punishments. But — this being a video game — Dante is armored like a Greek warrior and can choose to absolve the shades or slash them to bits.
If that raises your literary hackles, you’ll appreciate another, rather different, Dante-inspired release: the book-length poem To Join the Lost, by Seth Steinzor of South Burlington. This achingly personal, contemporary version of the Inferno is both truer to its prototype and more daring.
Preserving Dante’s structure of 34 cantos, Steinzor’s unrhymed but rhythmical poem is spoken by a poet named Seth. (It takes some guts to invite comparisons between the Tuscan bard’s poetic voice and one’s own.) Like Dante’s character-self, the middle-aged Seth finds himself lost in a murky, obstructed landscape at the poem’s opening. All is despair until out of the gloom steps Dante — the Florentine poet, that is — who, 700 years after penning his own tour of Hell, has become a guide.” [. . .]    –Amy Lilly, Seven Days, May 19, 2010