This week in my advanced workshop we're reading Luci Tapahonso and talking about persona poems. I've written a few before, and a few Eve poems for the Liveaboard book, but it was interesting this week to really dig in and think about what they can do.
Tapahonso has a persona poem in which she inhabits an entire group of people--it's very moving, very sad. I've never seen a plural first person persona poem before. It made me think about how tough it is to speak for an entire group of people.
We also talked a lot about how first person gives us so many "rights" that 3rd person doesn't. If I'm writing in 3rd person, I can't "pretend" to know the details of someone's story, but if I write in 1st person, I can. It's such an odd thing--because of course it's all invented. But somehow writing in the first person gives us permission to inhabit someone and to invent details.
I've been working on a poem about Mary giving birth to Jesus and it's written in the 3rd person. After this week's class I'm wondering if it should be a persona poem. Would 1st person give me more authority? More permission? Would it make it more "believable" and intimate? Things to think about, I guess.