Lyric poems express the thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of a single, first-person speaker, often aligned with the poet themselves. Persona poems or dramatic monologues invoke the mask of another figure—fictional character, animal, plant, object, or person—to convey idea, emotion, and voice. Reading a diverse array of poems by poets from different eras, nations, and biographies, we will investigate the advantages and limitations of each mode of poetry, asking questions including: How can assuming a persona liberate the poet to speak about difficult personal subjects? How can lyric voice be expanded to encompass political concerns? When does invoking the persona of another become ethically dubious? Students will draft poems each week and engage in reading and discussion meant to stimulate thinking about how poets conceptualize, make, and shape their poems. You will give and receive critique in a workshop environment, expand approaches to drafting, and revise poems for a substantial final portfolio.
Co-requisite: Students are required to attend the Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington readings, typically held on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.