23 May Creation of an epic – 2
By 1990, as well as teaching, directing, and acting, I was deeply involved in the creation of the play The Eagle and the Tiger, which dealt with the relationship of Henrik Ibsen and his wife Suzannah—their nicknames for each other were the Eagle for Suzannah and the Tiger for Ibsen, which gives you an idea of their marriage. But before I could start writing it, I had to deal with an important fact about Ibsen’s writing. Up to the age of forty he wrote plays, and even letters, in verse. And this fact led me to write the play in verse.
Of course, you don’t just sit down and write poetry. Therefore, I had to practice the craft of poetry. I wrote in every verse form and on any subject, practicing by creating occasional poems-
poems that celebrate births, weddings, deaths, commemorations, tributes. On one occasion, at a wedding feast I discovered that the wedding couple wanted me to write a poem about them; while the dinner was taking place I quickly wrote a Petrarchan sonnet about them on a napkin and gave it to them before the dinner had ended.
Finally I was ready to write the play—but the result of all my practice gave me an urge to imagine and write from the sensibilities of a poet, and this new focus has driven my work since.