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I’m glad I’m a library-haunting geek, because we sure didn’t learn much about Italian poetry in school. We studied some great stuff—Dante, Petrarch—but we never made it out of the 14th century. I had to discover the next 600 years of Italian verse on my own: Ludovico Ariosto, who injected the tired old Carolingian epic of Roland with refreshing invention and wit; Giacomo Leopardi, the ruined aristocrat who wrote some of the most despairing elegies of the 19th century; Dino Campana, whose ecstatic lyrics and vagabond lifestyle prefigured the Beats. Best of all, I read 1975 Nobel Laureate Eugenio Montale, whose richly allusive work has been important not only to his countrymen, but also, in translation, to generations of British and American writers. Educate yourself when Jonathan Galassi, the poet’s most recent American translator, reads from Montale’s Collected Poems 1920-1954 tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Italian Cultural Institute, 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. For reservations call (202) 387-5161. (Leonard Roberge)