On Dante’s bust on Monroe Avenue

On Dante’s bust on Monroe Avenue

Dante’s bust in the Monroe Branch Library 1/8/16

Why does the sculpted head of the author of the Inferno  and the Divine Comedy  (Dante Alighieri 1265–1321) peer down from its perch atop the circulation desk of the Monroe Branch Library? Hopefully not imagining in which Nine Circles of Hell patrons will land!

The gray limestone library building with a terra cotta tile roof, considered a showplace in 1930, is a blend of antique charm and modern technology. Located between the YMCA and Interstate 490, the Monroe Branch continues to be the cultural hub of its southeast neighborhood.


Five historical photos of the library, including from its beginning in 1930 1/8/16

And like all older libraries, the Monroe Branch has its mysteries.

As for the bust of Dante, it has held court in the library for as long as anyone can remember. Predating the tenure of all the librarians, the statue’s origins are unknown. Donated decades ago by some anonymous lover of medieval Italian poetry?  A gesture to Rochester’s once large Italian population?

The bust does not exactly attract swarms of Dante fans. But if the head piques the interest of the occasional patron, he has served his purpose.


Statue in the Children’s Room 1/8/16

And then the statue of a mischievous girl in the Children’s Room. The figure has, again, been there as long as anyone can remember.  Like Dante, her origins are shrouded.

Ah, the mysteries. No doubt Dante and the mischievous girl have interesting conversations at night in the Monroe Branch Library. Perhaps she is Dante’s muse, Beatrice. If the statue is Beatrice, then she and Dante may be doomed never to speak despite being so close.

More soon on the many artistic and historical gems to be found in the library. And another intriguing mystery to be disclosed.

On the Rundel Central Library:

On Cal Ripken

On a Cal Ripken signed 1989 glove, prized possessions, and the Rundel Library

Kitty Jospé provides noon nourishment for the mind at Rundel.

Kitty Jospe

On the Brighton High School library

In search of Shirley Jackson

In search of Shirley Jackson and finding the Brighton High School Alumni author display case

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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