Dante Anniversary Plans/Ballard Spahr Prize/Google Doodle – Poetry News Roundup January 16th

Today in our poetry news round-up we take a look at the plans for the 700th anniversary of Dante. The 2020 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry and the Google Doodle for an Urdu Poet.

700th Anniversary of Dante

2021 will mark the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the medieval poet and philosopher, and Italy are getting ready to celebrate.

Known as “Father of the Italian language” Dante was born in 1265. He used the vernacular to write his verse and preferred to use the dialect of Tuscany rather than the more popular Latin which was used by other poets of the era. This meant that his work was really only read by those individuals who were highly educated.

It is his somewhat unorthodox approach that is believed to have been responsible for making literature more accessible to the general public, as well as clearing the way for other Italian writers of importance such as Boccaccio and Petrarch.

Through his depictions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory he had a significant influence on Western Art. However, he is perhaps best known for his Divine Comedy.

Dante died aged 56 in 1321, and he was at the time exiled to Ravenna. His final resting place is the Basilica di S. Francesco where his tomb is a popular place for tourist to visit.

The programme of events that have been planned to celebrate the life of the poet will take place predominately in Ravenna. However, it also expected that there will be events held in around 70 other villages and towns all over Italy. These villages and towns are in some way connected with the poet either through his personal life or through his writing.

The Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry 2020

The largest regional poetry award in America has opened for submissions for 2020.

The winners of the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry will be awarded a cash prize of $10,000 and will also see their work published by one of the top indie literary presses in the country, Milkweed Editions. Their work will also be subject to a publicity campaign and national launch.

The prize which has been running since 2011 was formerly known as the Lindquist & Vennum.

Entrants need to reside in Iowa, North or South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin. Submissions are open until 14th February. The winner and the finalists will all be announced in April 2020 and publication will take place in November 2020

Google Doodle for Urdu Poet

Earlier this week, the Google Doodle in India was dedicated to the Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi in celebration of what would have been his 101st birthday.

The doodle showed the famous poet addressing a gathering with a microphone in hand. In addition to being a poet, Azmi was also a social change advocate and songwriter.

Born in 1919 he is credited with introducing Urdu poetry into Indian cinema. In 1974 he was awarded the Padma Shri for Literature and Education and in 2002 a Sahitya Academy fellowship.

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