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All Levels | “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person,” wrote Oscar Wilde. “Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth.” The use of persona, or the mask, is an old tradition across the arts. Students will read and discuss persona poems by poets such as Ai, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Kevin Young, and others. We will explore the possibilities not only of writing outside our own subjectivities, but as plants, animals, objects, and concepts. Students will be offered practice writing their own persona poems from prompts and the opportunity to share their work as a class.
Lisa Wells is the author of The Fix, winner of the 2017 Iowa Poetry Prize. A new book of nonfiction, Believers is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2019. She’s taught poetry and creative nonfiction writing at the University of Iowa, the University of Arizona, and at Yale-NUS College in Singapore where she was an Emerging Writer in Residence. She lives with the poet Joshua Marie Wilkinson in Seattle, where they run a small press called Letter Machine Editions.