Poetry Workshop: Speaker Box

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

Persona poems are poems written in the voice of a character other than the author. We can view these constructed identities as masks, acts of ventriloquism, pageantry, or possibly an alternative route to uncover a speaker’s identity on the page. In discussing persona, we will encounter subjects such as gender, history, culture, age, nationality, and/or sexuality. We will examine poems ranging from classical to contemporary, local and global poets, recorded and live performances. By studying persona, we are led to the important discussion of “finding” one’s own voice. Would we know it if we heard it? Is it something that can be developed? Or is voice innate, a cadence that lives within? On a technical level, we will study style, diction, timbre, sound, rhythm, song, and dialect as tools to uncover voice with clarity and precision. Class work will comprise student writing and critique, poetic experiments, linguistic adventure, and wild meanderings in order to understand future possibilities for one’s own poems. Writing is produced and discussed each week, followed by revision portfolios several times during the semester. The act of revision provides the discipline needed to make real poems from raw material. We will also read a book of poetry each week. Students are expected to write and read consistently, to experiment, and to be passionate about creation. The class culminates in a chapbook and a public reading in Manhattan.