The Roots of “Wolf Song”
Biologist Cristina Eisenberg and I met as fellows at Black Earth Institute. Cristina invited me to accompany her research team into the field in Glacier National Park, so I could write poetry about the wolves firsthand. Little did I know that the call of the wolves would eventually pull me into such a magical and all-consuming theatrical project.
Tramping the high fields of the Montana mountains with the team, I felt for myself the contrast between the arid, overgrazed landscapes where wolves were extinct, and the thriving ecosystems where they were protected.Wolves helped the deer graze in natural patterns, healthy underbrush to support birds, fish, and insects. As this video shows, they keep everything else in balance.
Collaboration and Creation
Bringing what I had written back to Maine, I realized that this project would inspire more than an individual book of poetry. The epic tragedy of the wolf’s near-disappearance from the United States demands communal and societal, not just individual, grieving. I started Poets Theater of Maine to create a new kind of play to share this work: an interactive collaborative poetic ritual theater production. Eventually, “Wolf Song” evolved into a collaborative effort among nearly 30 people: composers, musicians, choreographers, mask-makers, dancers, actors, and singers, all coming together to honor the spirit of the wolf.
A workshop version of “Wolf Song” premiered to an enthusiastic audience at Mayo Street Arts in Portland, Maine in 2012, under the direction of Assunta Kent with musical score by Christina Alden-Kenne. As the audience added their voices to the casts’ to sing and howl along during the finale, the spirit of the wolf moved through the theater. I was especially gratified that Millenial audience members were so excited and receptive to the play’s unique mix.
Now “Wolf Song” is ready for its next stage of production. Who knows what the future will bring?