WEARING THE PHANTOM OUT is a series of lyric, narrative and dramatic poems inspired by treatments of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: the novel, numerous operetta and dramatic movies, staged musical theater and film versions of those musical productions.
These poems reflect the underbelly of the creative impulse: the terror of love, the violence and rawness of inspiration. Lifelong struggle against the quicksand of the mundane and mediocre does not assure poets, painters, singers—artists or would-be artists of every stripe—that they will be touched by the phantom or by any muse. This theme in the original material has intrigued me for years as a metaphor for choices we make as individuals and as poets. So given the number of poets who would love to be touched, the ingénue who throws away her gifted voice for ordinary love goaded me into writing these poems.
The richness of the sources was both a temptation and a risk. Madness or obsession, masks and reality, the stage and the audience, and plays inside of plays—the theatrically overblown, in a word, was quicksand of its own. As each historical version of the sources does, WEARING THE PHANTOM OUT offers new twists by including gender-bending and heightening the incestuous elements hinted at in previous versions.
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