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B (After Dante)
Categories: 14th Century, 21st Century, British, Italian, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (348 pages)
(Pub. May 2021)
"It was dusk, when the dark earth stains the blueing air
and soothes bird in tall tree and beast in silent lair;
I alone amidst all that hush of soil and leaf
prepared for the war of the way and the way's great grief,
of which an undistracted heart may speak or sing..."
Published to coincide with the 700th anniversary of Dante's death, Ned Denny's baroque, line-by-line reimagining – the follow-up to his Seamus Heaney Prize-winning collection Unearthly Toys – shapes the Divine Comedy into nine hundred 144-syllable stanzas. Audacious, provocative and eminently readable, tender and brutal by turns, rooted in sacred doctrine yet with one eye on the profane modern world, this poet's version – in the interpretative tradition of Chapman, Dryden and Pope – is a living, breathing Dante for our times. Hell has never seemed so savage, nor heaven so sublime.
Awards won by Ned Denny Winner, 2019 Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize (Unearthly Toys)
Praise for Ned Denny 'Ned Denny is a gifted troubadour who has crossed the ages. Unearthly Toys is formidably learned and formally exacting, but his versions are vividly imaginative and original. This is a book of great beauty and conceptual power: extremely clever but also haunting, proving again that formal requirements such as sestinas can be as much of a liberation as a constraint.'
'An earthly joy and a staggering debut... at times truly startling'
Andrew McNeillie, Clutag Press/Archipelago 'As among the most inventive translators of Dante - watch this space - Denny as a poet goes to Hell and back time after time, with immense verve and authority.'
New Italian Studies
'See, for a long time - since I reached these far-away shores, some thirteen years ago - I have been looking for a book of poems. A book of poems. One book of poems that had 'great beauty and conceptual power'. The quest and the drought are finally over. The spell was broken by a book that arrived yesterday, bringing Unearthly Toys down under. Ned Denny's poems are magnificent and so are his versions. This book is a blessing... that Catullus as opener, the Cavalcanti, Cloud... and what about the mesmerizing Waking? But for now I'll pick Fir. It is a powerful book precisely because it originates in the 'thickest of thickets', where truth is to be found and offered - and found it he has, and offered it he has, so gracefully, lightly (as in Calvino's definition of lightness) and truthfully... truthful to himself and to the things and the poems themselves.'
Marco Sonzogni, Senior Lecturer in Italian, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
'Ned Denny's is an interesting and destabilising read. It is a charming yet, at times, dark inspection of life where each consecutive poem builds upon the themes that have already been introduced, and adds to the diversity of techniques and form ... Denny provides a somewhat indirect commentary on the darker aspects of our lives and thoughts, drugs, death, love, and more. Yet, at no point does he display a sense of apathy or hopelessness amidst the grim demeanour.'
James Mork, Dundee University Review of the Arts
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