Friday, April 17, 2009

Working on a play

It's a musical play and in working on it, I find it interesting to notice the crossovers between drama and poetry, song lyrics and poems. Listening to a lot of contemporary music, musicals and folk songs, I found myself appreciating the lyricism of songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), Jonathan Larson (Rent), not to mention Oscar Hammerstein II (Oklahoma, South Pacific, etc.). A friend loaned me Hammerstein's out-of-print book on writing songs, including the stories of many of his most famous songs, and I was again impressed by the lyricist's craft. I so have to labor at this stuff, and it doesn't come out brilliant -- hey, why not? Because it requires huge work + huge talent.

And then there's Mr. Sondheim. He deserves a paragraph all by himself. I suppose he's earned the right to stop writing, but I don't like it.

Why don't contemporary poets cross over into writing theater, I wonder? I guess Seamus Heaney has done it, but not so many others.