Dante in China

ISBN: 9781597092593
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: 01/15/2013
Page Count: 133
Category: American - General
Language: English
Dimensions: 0.60"(h) x 5.90"(w) x 8.90"(d)

Dante in China

by John Barr

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 afloat / 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."

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“John Barr has a naturalist’s flair for identifying and naming the more curious phenomena and events of experience. He is a master builder. He is learned enough to wear his learning lightly. Thought and feeling flow in and out of each other with a beautiful fluency in his poems, and they balance each other perfectly. Most wonderful of all, he has a deep sonic wisdom and creates palaces of sound where we can sit and listen and listen.” —Vijay Seshadri, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 3 Sections

“W. H. Auden once longed for the return of a ‘civic poetry,’ by which he meant two things: a poetry whose subjects would be interesting to people who had no primary investment in the art, and a poetry that managed to entertain and instruct at the same time. How happy Auden might have been with this inventive, various, and large-spirited book by John Barr! I hope it finds the wide audience it certainly deserves.” —Christian Wiman, author of Once in the West, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

“The book’s powerfully imagined final poem, ‘Aristotle’s Will,’ is like nothing in our poetry. … It is a wonderful work.” —Ilya Kaminsky, co-editor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry

“John Barr’s poems stake out the intersection of wit, philosophy, grace, shadow, and an unabridged dictionary. And they travel far.” —Sarah Lindsay, author of Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower