Dante Di Stefano (Poetry) | Endwell, NY
Dante Di Stefano is the author of two poetry collections: Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight (Brighthorse Books, 2016) and Ill Angels (Etruscan Press, 2019). His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Best American Poetry 2018, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. He has won the On Teaching Poem Prize, the Manchester Poetry Prize, the Red Hen Press Poetry Award, the Thayer Fellowship in the Arts, the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, as well as prizes from The Academy of American Poets, The Crab Orchard Review, The Madison Review, and Stone Canoe. Along with María Isabel Alvarez, he co-edited the anthology Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America (NYQ Books, 2018). He is the poetry editor for the DIALOGIST, and serves as a reviewer for the Bellevue Literary Review. He holds a PhD in English Literature from Binghamton University. He teaches high school English in Endicott, NY and resides in Endwell, NY, with his wife, Christina, their daughter, Luciana, and their dog, Sunny.
Blurbs, Press, & Reviews
Praise for Ill Angels
Dante Di Stefano possesses one of the most rare and beautiful voices in American poetry today. At once tender, honest, and lyrical, he reminds us that it’s still possible to shine brightly in this dark era, to honor not only the sorrows, but also the beauty, in daily life. To read his work is to be transformed, moved, uplifted; his poems are luminous missives of the heart, of longing, of passion, and of human connection. Reading Ill Angels, I felt hopeful, inspired, and, most surprisingly, happy! Di Stefano’s poetry is nothing short of a blessing.
―Nin Andrews, Miss August and Why God Is a Woman
The passionate, important poems in Dante Di Stefano’s Ill Angels rail “against the hogtied malice of the world” by fiercely rejecting the madness of our political climate while at the same time celebrating the transformative nature of art and love. They instruct us by example and by insinuation, exposing truths “As gorgeously unseen as the new moon.” Our angels may indeed seem to be ailing, but they will find restorative grace and hope in Di Stefano’s soulful verse.
―Sascha Feinstein, Ajanta’s Ledge and Misterioso
Ill Angels is a dance and a cry, a big-hearted song shaped and bruised by knowing how difficult and strange and lovely our time in this world is. Yes, there is potable wisdom here, but more than that there is a smoldering beauty in the language that can carry us from one side of a day to the other. Muriel Rukeyser said that poetry might be the kind of thing that could save us. This new collection by Dante Di Stefano means to do some of that good work.
―Tim Seibles, One Turn Around the Sun
In Ill Angels, Dante Di Stefano meditates on the vagaries of memory, the complexities and vitalities of a life lived among books and students, and the difficulties and sadnesses of our political moment. His poems create in me that vivid feeling of listening in on the mind of a thinker of unusual compassion, intelligence, and imagistic intensity. “You desire in poetry,” Dante Di Stefano writes, “but you love / in prose until you learn to love the way / a poem loves, which is to river out / and spindrift and chickadee and yellow.”
―Kevin Prufer, How He Loved Them
Praise for Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight
Dante Di Stefano’s first book is absolute proof that poetry rises from the ruins. He sings of Binghamton, New York, and the hardscrabble streets where he grew up. He sings the praises of dumpster sparrows and anonymous saints most of us never see. He sings of his father, a postal worker for more than thirty years who died of cancer, the intimate objects and aching absences he left behind. Yet, if the poet confronts death bravely—even speaking in the voice of an unrepentant drone pilot—he also embraces life, the miracles of the everyday. There is music everywhere, from Nina Simone to Muddy Waters to Professor Longhair. There is the childhood friend who insisted, convincingly, that the baby Jesus lived in his washing machine. As the title tells us, love motivates the poems of Dante Di Stefano; love drives them to the page in the middle of the night; love will keep you turning the pages.
—Martín Espada, author of Vivas to Those Who Have Failed and Zapata’s Disciple
In his auspicious debut, Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight, Dante Di Stefano deftly draws upon the blank verse of Milton’s Paradise Lost to create his own attempt to understand the strange ways of God in our troubled and lovely world.Where everything seems bent on disappearing–dreamer-fathers, channeled wounded jazz men, “a mother’s pirouetted loops on Hallmark cards,” the Triple Cities School of Beauty Culture–all of it, “endlessly in flight,” DiStefano sings the lives that “swam the world as sunlight through a school/of fish, glints in an ever shifting veil.”
—Philip Metres, author of Sand Opera
Dante Di Stefano’s powerful debut is, in part, an extended elegy for his father—a journey of loss and love, as well as acceptance and gratitude. It also praises the many tutelary figures who have guided his artistic life. (As the poet Lynda Hull once wrote, “Oh the many lives that have fountained through / my own.”)Like William Carlos Williams, he knows that respecting nature requires an understanding of decay—spring and all—and that investigating rot may yield more answers than radiant blooms. But most of all, this collection advocates resilience and humility, essential qualities that deserve this passionate celebration.
—Sascha Feinstein, author of Misterioso and Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present
Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight is a joyride down a stretch of the American Main Street full of mysteries, signs, and potholes. Dante Di Stefano looks for the sacred in all the wrong places, and in so doing finds traces of it everywhere. These poems overflow with life and speak straight from a tremendous heart.
—Tom Bouman, author of Dry Bones in the Valley
Praise for Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America
“Repressive regimes = urgent poetry. It’s a terrible ratio. Today the powerful poets of Misrepresented People respond to our current tyrannies—and our presiding tyrant, Donald Trump—with unbelievable intensity and the richest, most diverse musical tones and gaits. What exacting laments, what soulful sorrows, what justice-driven hungers run through this vital gathering, where ‘Rage is a promise kept, ‘ as Sjohnna McCray sings. So maybe a poem never changed anyone’s vote. But I’m emboldened by these poets, as I believe poetry changes—it deepens, widens, enchants, enlivens, and empowers—every single reader’s mind. Let’s name the brutal, resist the greedy, condemn the unjust, and in Timothy Liu’s words defend ‘this scorned tract of earth called home.’ And let’s do it with song.”