By Thomas Page
I am student teaching a senior level class in Washington, DC. They have to write some poems on these prompts. I decided to try all 30 of them. However, I will not say what the prompt was but what it number was.
One recent summer ago, I was tasked to write a play.
Not just a play, but a musical.
Not just a musical, but a rap musical.
Not just a rap musical, but a rap musical about King Oedipus.
Not just a rap musical about King Oedipus but a rap musical about King Oedipus set in the 1990s.
I don’t even remember the 90s and I was there for half of it!
I sat at my computer with a translation of Sophocles on my lap
Trying to remember the rules of musical beats
While looking at zoot suits my “team” decided were period
Producing not even a rest on the paper.
There was a rustle at the office door
When lo and behold a toga’d man appeared before me and said, “What…”
To be accurate, he didn’t speak English as it wasn’t a language yet
But beside the point,
“What are you doing to my masterpiece?”
I sat dumbfounded at my visitor
I’m writing a musical.”
You know what they say about men who write musicals?”
What is different about yours?”
I explained what I’ve already said to you.
He grasped at his hair
And rolled in the ground in agony
Making a tragic face.
“There must be something very wrong with you to put yourself through this”
He grabbed my head to get a better look at me.
“Everyone has a hamartia in what they do. Is it academic?”
“I wouldn’t know that.”
“You must be stupid, then.”
He turned his back to me to inspect the room.
“So, this is the room of your fall?”
“No, it’s my father’s.”
“Ok. Well, like the harbinger of all tragedies, I will go unheard.”
And he left.
And I left the manuscript untouched until I was reminded of it in the fall.