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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 (2018), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, and a book of nonfiction, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Her work appears in Harper’s Magazine, Granta, The Believer, N+1, The Iowa Review, Best New Poets, at The Poetry Foundation and elsewhere. She’s taught poetry and nonfiction writing at the University of Iowa, the University of Arizona, and at Yale-NUS College in Singapore where she was a Writing Fellow in Residence. She lives in Seattle.