In our final news round-up of the week, we look at the poet’s papers acquired by a library, the police celebrating Dantedi and #comfortandhope
Poet”s Papers Acquired by The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens has announced that it has taken possession of papers the belonged to Dana Gioia. The poet was the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009 and from 2015 to 2019 he was poet laureate of California.
Gioia, who was a published poet on a small scale for many years whilst pursuing a career in business, made a name for himself in 1991 when he published “Can Poetry Matter?” – a provocative essay that appeared in The Atlantic. Since then, he made significant literary contributions with his poetry and essays. He has also worked as an editor, translator, opera librettist and teacher.
The papers document his work as a poet through the drafts of the poems and essays that he has produced, first in draft form and then final edition. The Library is delighted to have acquired them because they will fit very well with their existing collection and Gioia is a local author. He grew up in a household that was Mexican / Sicilian American, and his work is both loyal to the area that he grew up in and also his roots.
Much of the paperwork relates to his time as poet laureate working as an advocate for the arts and poetry. The work was an integral part of his poetry career, and makes interesting reading as a part of the wider collection.
The Huntington is well known for the strength of its collection of literary materials, especially when it comes to poetry. They count amongst their important artefacts the Ellesmere manuscript of Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and some outstanding print holdings of William Shakespeare. They also have important works relating to Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Blake and Wallace Stevens as well as items linked to some of the New Formalist poets.
Verses of Purgatory from the State Police
As part of the Italian celebrations for the poet Dante Alighieri, Dantedi, the State Police chose a couple of triplets of the Divine Comedy, Canto 1 of Purgatory. The triplets appeared on their website on the morning of 25th March.
The chosen triplets describe Virgil and Dante at dawn on Easter Sunday and the beach of Purgatory. They were chosen as a way of comforting Italians during the difficult days of lockdown, with descriptions of the world outside that is waiting once everything is over.
Yesterday, the poem chosen for #comfortandhope was Atlas by the poet U.A. Fanthorpe. It was read by the director, writer and actor Adjoa Andoh. She chose it because to her it shows just how love can be shown in the everyday things that are around us – a positive message in these challenging times.