Roberta Calandra: Inspiration and Influences

On writing, John’s Last Dream

Roberta Calandra’s play concentrates on the imagined last hours of John Keats and is “based on his theories about the importance of vision.” Speaking at a Poetry House Live Seminar, (hosted by the Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation in partnership with the University of  Roehampton, July 2016) Calandra explained how she likes to write lyrically and poetically so loved the fact that the play was to be about a poet.

Whilst researching Keats, she found a letter from him to a friend, in which he likened human life to rooms. This gave her a structure. “He was using three different spaces to compare illusion and disillusion. The three rooms made me choose three different persons (sic) -three alternative visions. All three are trying to force John to stay alive” but “he knows his time has come. He’s wondering, ‘Was I good enough to be remembered?’ He’s worried about immortality.” Calandra  describes Keats’ vision as his strength. “Its’s like an obsession. I have this feeling that he was frightened by it. It was too much.”

She was also inspired by the magic and mysticism she felt on visiting the Keats-Shelley Museum, based in the house that was Keats’ last resting place, 26 Píazza di Spagna, at the bottom of the Spanish Steps in Rome and describes it as “a very special place”.

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