After Forbidden Music by Louise Glück
After lights dim and actors find their spots and audience exhales in embryonic dark and curtain rises and words bloom and one child actor exits after delivering lines with winning squeak, there comes a scene called the forbidden monologue. It is called such because it cannot, under any circumstances the dramaturg specified during rehearsals, be spoken. Therefore, they never rehearsed it.
Yet it must be spoken because it has been written.
The lead actress craves to speak those words, to release them from the prison of her gorge.
Tonight, the director decides, it WILL be included. He is young. He wants to make his mark. Or he is old. He wants to leave a legacy. Either way, the words will root in the duodenum of all those people sitting on dusky rose velveteen cushions.
Wobbling a little, he informs the lead actress in that backstage twilight just before curtain. She faints, then quickly recovers. The other actors and stage manager do not know. They are collectively pissed when she veers off-script. Selfish bitch!
The child actor afloat in the wings witnesses something he has never seen before and can’t verbalize. Watching the actress who plays his mother become pure word, pure sound, pure meaning, he wonders, Who am I?
Holding his hands in front of him in the gathered light, he repeats the question, Who am I now?
Why I like this poem:
I like this poem for a couple of reasons. Formally, I challenged myself to work with a longer line than I usually do. This required a different thinking and breathing cadence.
In looking for inspiration and models, I came upon the poem “Forbidden Music” and felt moved. A little stunned and transported. It offered me a meaningful reading experience and had the formal elements I admired. Glück. She delivers.
In gratitude and to learn, I used her poem as a jumping off place. So it reminds me of her and it reminds me of a fulfilling reading experience, which is one way I mark my human time.
Finally, I enjoy it thematically. It attempts to peel back the layers of how art impacts people individually and collectively, and explore the range of art’s impact on different people, from fueling the ego to facilitating an experience with the sublime.
Nicole Zdeb is a writer based in Portland, OR. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a certificate in translation from CUNY. She has taught writing K-16, had a fulfilling career in education research, and now she’s enjoying her second act as a real-estate agent in the Portland metro area. Nicole serves as Board Secretary and Director of Development for Twilight Theater Company.
Bedouin Books published her chapbook, The Friction of Distance.
Available for purchase here.
And in other news:
Coming up two weeks from today in Detroit!
Saturday, February 15th from 3-5pm
The Commons: 7900 Mack Ave, Detroit
#theeastsidereadingseries #poetry #fiction #creativenonfiction
This event is supported in part by Poets & Writers, thanks to a grant from the Hearst Foundations.