Canberra – Dante’s Influence in Australian Poetry – 23 April

Dante’s Influence in Australian Poetry

Associate Professor Gaetano Rando, Faculty of Arts Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Wollongong

Dante and Italian-Australian poetry

Italians have been coming to Australia for the last 200 years. For some the transition from the old country to the new has provided inspiration for the production of literary texts, particularly poetry. It was inevitable that Dante would be a major influence on these literary endeavours. This presentation proposes to explore and to analyse some aspects of Dante’s influence on Italian poets in the antipodes.

Gaetano Rando holds degrees from Italian and Australian Universities and has taught in the subject areas of Italian Studies and English Language and Linguistics. He has published extensively on Italian Australian studies the section on Italian Australian poetry in L. Bonaffini and J. Perriconi (eds), “Poeti della Diaspora italiana” (Cosmo Iannone Editore, 2019); “The Celluloid Migrant: Giorgio Mangiamele Italian Australian film-maker” (2011); “Letteratura e Emigrazione: il Caso italoaustraliano” (2004). A NAATI accredited and certified Advanced Translator, he has translated Rosa Cappiello’s iconic Italian Australian novel “Oh Lucky Country” (University of Sydney Press”, 2009).

Dr Theodore Ell, Honorary Lecturer, Australian National University

Dante’s long Australian shadow

Despite Dante’s great distance from Australia in time and space, Australian poetry has felt his influence in subtle ways. For some Australian poets, Dante is a guide to strange or haunted places, his Commedia a model for navigating the dense patterns of images, symbols, history and associations that make up an experience of landscape. For others, he is an ethical model, a precedent for defying class pretensions and writing confidently in the vernacular. He is also a sympathetic figure for writers cast out to the margins. This talk will explore works by several Australian poets who have sensed in Dante’s work not only an inheritance, but a living presence.

Theodore Ell is a Canberra writer, editor and translator. He studied literature and modern languages at the University of Sydney and has lived in Florence and Bologna. In 2010, he completed his PhD on the anti-fascism of poet Piero Bigongiari in 2010, work that culminated in his book A Voice in the Fire (2015). In 2012, he co-founded the international journal Contrappasso Magazine, of which he was co-editor for four years, and in 2013, he edited the anthology Long Glances for Manning Clark House in Canberra. From 2018 until early 2021, he lived in Beirut, Lebanon. Theodore’s poetry, essays, translations and non-fiction have been published in Australia, Italy, the UK and Lebanon. He is an honorary lecturer in literature at the Australian National University.