Dante Defended/Poet’s Plea For Vaccine Takeup – Poetry News Roundup March 31st

In today”s poetry news round-up we look at a German newspaper article that was critical of Dante, and the poets who have joined the plea for people to get the vaccine.

Dante Defended by Italians Amidst Claims Shakespeare was “Light Years” Ahead

Leaders in Italy have been lending their support to the poet Dante Alighieri following recent claims in a German newspaper.

Dante, who is a much-revered poet in Italy has recently come under criticism in a German newspaper who claimed that he wasn’t as important to the Italian language as people claim, and the British poet and playwright William Shakespeare was more modern and light years ahead of him. The article stated that whilst Dante’s work did bring Italian to greater heights his Divine Comedy, which was written in 1320 was antiquated and school children struggled to understand it.

The irony of this is that Dante wrote his epic poem in the Tuscan dialect rather than Latin as he wanted it to be more accessible to the masses. His decision had a significant impact on other writers of the time with the Tuscan dialect going on to form a basis for Italian as we now know it – this is why he is often referred to as the “father of the Italian language”.

It is the comparison between Dante and Shakespeare that has offended the Italians. The article suggests that Shakespeare was more amoral and many years ahead of Dante who had an opinion on just about everything and judged it by his own moral standards. The article was written to coincide with Dante Day which fell on 25th March.

One critic was particularly scathing of the article pointing out that Italian children, in fact, have little problem when it comes to studying Dante, there are relatively few words that need explaining. However the same cannot be said of English and German texts written at a similar time.

Many noted figures, including the President of Italy and The Pope, paid tribute to Dante last week, in a reminder of just how important his work still is to the Italian people.

Poet Joins Plea to Black Britons

The comedian Sir Lenny Henry has written a letter to Black British people in which he has urged them to make an appointment when they get a call to have the Covid-19 vaccine, to trust in the facts and not listen to the falsehoods.

The letter, which is supported by the NHS, is an open one that has been signed by a number of household names including two prominent Black poets.

He acknowledges that there are worries that people have at the moment over the situation but that this really is so important and people all over the world, not just in the UK, need to trust the scientists and the doctors. He also reminds people that many of these doctors and scientists are their relatives.

Those who have lent their voices to the letter include George the Poet, the author Malorie Blackman, the film star Thandie Newton and Lemm Sissay.

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