Josephine: The Mouse Singer

Poetry by Michael McClure

Michael McClure’s Josephine: The Mouse Singer, a play in verse, is based on a story of Franz Kafka’s, “Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk.” Kafka and McClure? And yet the combination is bound to work, for in essence both writers in their different ways ponder the trials of the artist in an arbitrary universe. McClure’s exuberant, inspired adaptation, in fact, reminds us of the bizarre whimseys Kafka’s tales were originally intended to be. The first New York production of Josephine: The Mouse Singer, in November 1978 at the WPA Theatre, received The Village Voice’s prestigious Obie award for the Best Play of the Year. “As so often happens Off-Off-Broadway,” the Voice’s citation reads. “it is a play that was performed for only three weekends, but it is a play of extraordinary wit and grace and wisdom, at once utterly charming and almost unbearably painful, a play which tells us that the relationship between artists and their society is often intolerable, but which also tells us that for a society to endure without its artists is impossible.”

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Paperback (published March 1, 1980)

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Michael McClure

Contemporary American Poet, Playwright, Novelist