Tomorrow is Nancy Willard’s birthday. (It’s also my son’s birthday, and that of my first girlfriend. Anybody else?)
One of the greatest regrets of my life is that I have been unable so far to get William Blake’s Inn produced. Nancy is such a phenomenal writer and artist, but more than that she is such an unbelievably warm and supportive human being that she deserves to have this work staged and performed all over the country.
When I asked her for permission to set her Newbery Award-winning book to music in 2003, she did not hesitate. As a creative master, she was unafraid of what I might do to her “child”; indeed, she eagerly anticipated the completion of each song and has remained the work’s biggest fan.
In a perfect world, we would be able to workshop William Blake and then give it a full staging—soloists, chorus, adults, children, puppets, projections, orchestra—and present it along with an exhibit of her related artwork. (She actually built the Inn out of cardboard. It’s with all her papers at UMich/Ann Arbor.) And then we would take it on the road to share with the rest of the planet.
To our children we shall say
how we walked the Milky Way.
(If you haven’t before now, go listen to the Epilog. It is probably the best thing I will ever write.)