Last week I posted about the production “Papermaker” (to be played on the Portland Stage). The native Maine playwright extrapolated from her interconnected book of short stories, but what inspired her to pursue the project was something largely neglected in that collection. Namely, the chief executive officer. After writing the blog entry I recalled an early writing experience—exploring mythopoeic nonfiction in a Maine setting that would be permeated with all things Maine.
Mythopoeic nonfiction sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? The contradiction intrigued me (though there were other reasons for trying it). Something about it seems not quite possible, for I am a stickler about the term nonfiction. If, as CS Lewis once said to his friend Tolkien, myths are lies breathed through silver, shouldn’t something called nonfiction be factual, unrelated to myth? Nonfiction should be fact, factual. Tolkien addressed a poem to Lewis defending myth as truth. Yet the challenge remains. Tell the truth (in this case without fiction), but infuse it with mythic qualities inherent in your worldview. And the truth is best told and received using structure and elements inherent in storytelling itself.