Leaner than Light: 12 Frames of Paul Engle

"Leaner than LIght: 12 Frames of Paul Engle"
An audio video production of a play by Lisa Schlesinger
Produced and edited by Lisa DiFranza
Audio engineered by Ben Schmidt

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A note from playwright Lisa Schlesinger:
"At the end of his life, Paul Engle was working on a memoir called Paul Engle Country which, he specifies, wasn’t in chronological order. I imagine that this is because as a poet, Paul Engle conceived of the world in images, and moments of meaning connected by associative imagination rather than chronological time. When I began to research Leaner than Light, I was interested in Hualing Nieh and Paul Engle’s mutual love and their dedication to world literature. I was also interested in how they created a place for voices that otherwise would not be heard and a community where they would be welcomed. Not a dramatic thing, really but miraculous and heroic. When I first envisioned this play, I saw spaces opening for IWP writers to walk through. One person I spoke with said Paul Engle sacrificed his career for the work of others. I’m not sure I agree. Perhaps he made a beautiful and successful career of it. I was also interested in paying homage to Iowa, a place often referred to as the middle of nowhere, but a place that has hosted, nurtured and cultivated countless literary voices and works, both local and global. One of the great moments I had researching this play was sitting with Hualing in her house overlooking the Iowa River, eating dried mango and sharing our love of Iowa. People don’t understand, she said, how many writers come here, nowhere else could you gather so many writers in one place. From a literary standpoint, Iowa is far form the middle of nowhere. And yes, it’s the writers who come; but it is also the Iowa landscape and people that welcome them. I am thrilled that we are able to share this internet audio/visual adaptation of the stage play, Leaner than Light, which received its first public staged reading in the wake of the Iowa flood in the October of 2008 and its staged premier in October of 2009. I hope viewers are able to get a sense of the staged production, but more, to get insight into Paul Engle’s life and his amazing gift to Iowa and to world literature."

There are six Paul Engle's poems featured in this streaming version of the play:

American Child I
These are the Things

The Leaner Than Light Program (PDF)

View a slideshow of the stage production two years ago