It's Not About You - Writing the Persona Poem Workshop. Dawn Paul and Cindy Veach. Massachusetts Poetry Festival (day/time TBD)
Sometimes a poem calls for a different voice—one that’s not your own. Writing using a persona can free you to write about difficult subjects or experiences. It can help a poet avoid sentimentality or self-indulgence. It allows more control over the distance between poet and audience, and can give an audience room to breathe. A persona releases you from the constraints of time and space—you can speak as a Civil War nurse, a Neanderthal, or Queen Nefertiti. You can be a space alien or your goldfish. A persona can give you a more immediate kind of authority with being preachy. Or it can just be fun. But how does a poet create an authentic voice, one true in tone, diction and knowledge? In this workshop we will examine personae and how poets successfully create them. We will look at the work of a small, but diverse group of poets. Then we will put on the mask, and write a persona poem of our own. For whom will you speak? How will you answer the call of your poem?