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Rufus Wainwright / CLASH Interview

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William Shakespeare may be best known as a playwright, but his collection of sonnets – some 154 altogether – were every bit as significant as the plays that made his name in the Elizabethan theatre era. Writers, actors, musicians and artists have drawn huge inspiration from Shakespeare's sonnets over the four centuries that have elapsed since Shakespeare slipped off his Tudor ruff and put down the quill for good. Rufus Wainwright is one. For almost 15 years, those pesky sonnets have been like an on-off and decidedly unrequited romance, weaving their way in and out of his unique take on pop music. Finally, in a year that marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, Wainwright has decided to stop seeing his relationship with the sonnets as a mere dalliance and has now crafted a whole album built around nine of the poems, ‘Take All My Loves'. And, like most things Wainwright has done, it isn't necessarily what you might expect.

"The sonnets are a wonderful artistic punching bag," laughs Wainwright. It's a laugh every bit as distinctive as his singing voice, a sort of nasal laugh somewhere between nervousness and complete surrender. "You can keep swiping at the sonnets, and there's always a push-back. They're pretty sturdy."