“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”.

In an era of sweeping political change, constant warfare, international refugee crises and catastrophic climate change, this famous phrase, written above the gates of Hell in Dante’s epic poem Inferno, takes on a whole new resonance.

Containing scenes of fire, anguish and violent torture, it is a lurid vision of the afterlife complete with severed heads, cruel and unusual punishments and devils in frozen lakes. But the inferno is much more than a trip into the macabre. As well as being one of the greatest poems ever written, it is an acute study of human psychology and its Nine Circles of Hell have fed the public imagination within both art and religion.

Join chair, Akram Khan, and our expert panel, poet Anthony Anaxagorou, professor Claire Honess and author Simon Kurt Unsworth, as they explore the resonance of this extraordinary epic poem within 21st-century contemporary society. Our guests, who have each been influenced by Dante in their own work, will examine whether the modern world has become akin to Dante’s Inferno and, if so, what hope there is of salvation.

To end the discussion, acclaimed poet, Anthony Anaxagorou, will debut his new poem, which has been specially commissioned by the Bradford Literature Festival.

A contemporary response to Inferno, this magnificent poem, told in Anthony’s unique style, will be the perfect end to what is sure to be an unforgettable event.

About The Speakers

Anthony Anaxagorou

Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot award-winning poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher, and poetry educator. He has published nine volumes of poetry, a spoken-word EP, and a collection of short stories. He is the founder of Out-Spoken. GB.


Claire Honess

Claire Honess is Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Leeds. Her primary research interest is in Dante studies. Claire has written on modern Italian authors, most notably Elio Vittorini, and has taught modules on Primo Levi and on the literature of the city of Trieste. She is an editor for the journal The Italianist and Chair of the Society for Italian Studies.

Simon Unsworth

Simon Unsworth has written two novels set in Hell, The Devil’s Detective and The Devil’s Evidence, and four short story collections. He lives with his wife, various children and animals writing whatever comes into his head, for which pursuit he was once nominated for a World Fantasy Award and Edge Hill short story collection prize.

Photo by Irena Vettese

About The Host

Akram Khan

Akram Khan is a professor of Experimental Particle Physics at Brunel University London, he is also a world leading researcher in the areas of fundamental and applied science.