Seeing life from a different perspective
As we continue to explore different approaches to poetry, today we are going to look at the persona poem. Persona poems are poems written from a perspective other than your own. You use your imagination to enter the world of another character. You can write a persona poem from the perspective of a friend, an enemy, a relative, a pet, a celebrity, a historical figure, a character from literature or you can make up a character of your own.
The basis of a persona poem is a change in point-of-view. You aren’t just writing about another character, you are writing as if you were that other character. You try to think like that character. You imagine that character’s thoughts, actions, skills, and limitations. You try to capture the world in which that character lives and you portray it as if you were that character.
This is a style of poetry that is heavily influenced by fiction. You leave behind your point of view and take on another. You try to bring a character to life and make that character interesting to your readers. It can be challenging but also freeing. You are given the chance to change your style, tone, and perspective, at least for the length of one poem.
Adding a fictional layer to your poetry allows you to address issues you can’t comfortably express as yourself. Persona poems can be an excellent method for dealing with personal issues that are too close for you to write about from your own perspective. Persona poems also can be a great way to explore your feelings about a social or personal issue by looking at it from the other side. What would the person on the other side of the issue say to you?
Write a persona poem that incorporates one of the past two concepts. It should either address a social issue or it should provide a strong sense of place. One great way to do the latter is to write a poem in a public place and to observe the people around you until you find someone interesting that you can imagine a back-story for.