Dante in China
DescriptionIn 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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About the Author
John Barr has worked as an investigative reporter for ESPN since 2003. In 2019 his coverage of the Larry Nassar scandal was honored with a Peabody Award and the IRE Sports Investigations Award.
"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 both historical and fictional--comic, hilarious, deeply ironic, and at the same time earnest, heartbreaking, instructive. It is about fathers and sons, teachers and students, arrogance, ignorance, lessons learned, lessons wasted, the indecency of power, the passion, the compassion, the loss. It is a wonderful work."--Ilya Kaminsky, co-editor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry
"The ancient masters encounter the modern world in John Barr's inventive new poetry collection Dante in China, a book that poses a triple threat: entertaining, educational and enlightening."--Yaddo News