I received a phone call from Ira Glass this week. His next episode for “This American Life
” is going to be about writers and where they find their inspiration. He briefly interviewed me for the third act of the program, entitled: Write Now Ira Glass:
Pope Benedict, you just finished writing another book of theology, which is due to be published by Ignatius Press in the next month. Congratulations. Pope Joe:
Thank you. Ira Glass:
Where do you find the time and inspiration to write with your hectic schedule? Pope Joe:
Well, it helps that I’m divinely inspired. I also have insomnia, which keeps me up most nights. Insomnia seems to be my muse. Ira Glass:
What author would you compare yourself to? Pope Joe:
I suppose if I were forced to pick one author it would have to be Shakespeare. I think we both have an amazing ability to convey the human condition through words.
I think where we differ is that Shakespeare was limited to only writing great plays.
I’m a bit more . . . well-rounded than him. And I don’t mean my belt size, but rather my ability to cross over from playwriting, to novels, to poetry, to theological essays, to history, etc. Shakespeare was good at writing plays, and that’s what he felt comfortable writing. God bless him. But, he couldn’t cross over like I can.
I’m also much funnier than Shakespeare. He certainly had a quick wit, but he wasn’t trained in comedic timing like me. But don’t get me wrong, Shakespeare is good—he’s just not great.
But we need to forgive him, right? He wasn’t divinely inspired like me. Ira Glass:
You mentioned that you’ve written plays. I’ve never seen any of your published plays. Pope Joe:
Well, they haven’t been published yet. It’s amazing, but the minute you become Pope—suddenly every publisher wants you. I’ve written dozens of plays and they are due out for publication next year. Ira Glass:
What types of plays have you written? Pope Joe:
What haven’t I written? Well, I’m a huge fan of Jaws, so I started to convert the movie script into a Shakespearean play.Ira Glass:
Really? This should be interesting. I had no idea. Would you mind reading some lines from your play?Pope Joe:
You want me to give a teaser? Sure, here’s something that will get my people excited. This is taken from the part of Jaws movie when Quint is about to go into that long monologue
about the Hiroshima bomb.
If you don’t mind, I brought some professional voice actors to do the reading.Ira Glass:
Go right ahead. You’re the Pope. JAWS
SCENE X. On a Ship at Sea
Enter HOOPER, BRODY and QUINTHooper
Thou hath boarded that illfated vessel
That we call the Indianapolis?Brody
Hark, I pray thee to unbridle thy tongue
And teach us thy privy tale. Hide nothing,
For though we sit in this dampened chamber
Reclined in a drunken stupor, reciting
Sonnets about shore-worn maidens: which do
Arouse us with their lowly occupation,
I think it proper to hear this grave tale.
And bate not one word from thy famed story,
Hooking our minds with faithless words,
Making us cuckolds in thy reverie.
Let us to fanciful thoughts, which make Time
Stir round, turning idle minds to a stage:
Not made by hands, but formed from thy words
Inspiring those poor players that do
Sit in mine head to swirl about,
Even as that bedeviled shark doth swirl round
Beneath us, plotting tumultuous revenge.Hooper
Yes, retell that tale for our kindred’s sake
Quell mine clouded memory with thy story.
For I shall raise this hearty mug in praise
Of thy name, making an Oath to retell
And sing it to all my posterity.
Tell me, good Quint, tell all, so that even
The mighty gods that do sit on that Great Mount
Do cry at thy speech--yea, even that wretched
Jupiter will sweat briny tears into
Poseidon’s salty sea.Quint:
And lend thy ear to my story.
A vessel from the Orient hath slammed
Two spears into the side of our boat, chief.Pope Joe:
Let’s stop it right there. I don’t want to spoil it. Besides I don’t give this stuff out for free. They need to buy my book.Ira Glass:
Thank you for joining us today.Pope Joe:
It’s my pleasure.