As writers we are so often told to “write what you know.” And this is good advice.
But this “rule” should not be taken literally, especially when creating persona poems. The poet must create a place where the reader must, as Samuel T. Coleridge famously said, “willingly suspends his [or her] belief.” The voice in a persona poem has to emerge from an authentic place within the poet. Yet this “taking on of the mask” requires an authenticity of emotion and not, necessarily, autobiographical veracity.
Let me give an example. Suppose I am going to write a persona poem in the voice of an Alien whose head is made of a pink volcanic ash which resembles something like that of a pencil eraser. The eyes of this being take the shape of a semi-colon; the body looks like of exclamation mark! This other-worldly being lives on Hailey’s comet and is…
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