FAIRBANKS — Dante Alighieri has been dead for nearly 700 years, but his “Divine Comedy” and other works live on, sometimes in strange and unusual ways.
A dense theological poem on hell, purgatory and paradise, the “Divine Comedy” is anything but funny until someone resurrects Dante as Donny from the Bronx and offers an irreverent East Coast interpretation of his work, with side-splitting results.
Welcome to the Dead Writers Reading and Raffle. It’s an annual fundraiser for the University of Alaska Fairbanks English Department and Visiting Writers Series that features readings from well-known authors. The only criteria is that the authors must be dead.
Visitors are likely to run into a gamut of moldering literary lights, from Shakespeare to Edgar Allan Poe to David Foster Wallace, said Ryan Bateman, who is organizing the event.
“People take a lot of different approaches to it,” he said. “We get a lot of people who choose to do things from popular culture, such as Michael Jackson.”
Participants perform a three-minute reading from the body of work of their chosen author. “The catch is if you go over three minutes, you have to pay up,” Bateman said.
It boils down to literature as performance art.
He’s expecting from 25 to 40 performers, many of them dressed up as their favorite dead authors and with well-honed, generally humorous performances. The best will win prizes. In addition, thousands of dollars in raffle prizes will be awarded between readings. Prizes include a weekend trip to Chena Hot Springs Resort, gift certificates for local restaurants and businesses and much more, he said. Books from the authors in the Visiting Writers Series also will be available.
IF YOU GO:
What: Dead Writers Reading and Raffle
When: 6 p.m. today (doors open at 6, readings begin at 7)
Where: The Blue Loon, 2999 George Parks Highway
Cost: $15 general admission; $12 with student ID
Midnight Sun Visiting Writers Series:
Nov. 9: Kim Barnes and
Bob Wrigley, Wood Center,
Feb. 1: Alan Heathcock
Feb. 28: Pam Houston
April 19: Joan Kane
Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.