Friday, September 28, 2012

Poetry Friday: Persona Poems

Persona Poems, poems written from the point of view of another person or an inanimate object, are one of my favorite types of poems for students to write. It's exciting and challenging to push them to "get inside the head" of someone else. It's also an excellent way to integrate poetry writing into your reading class (write a poem from a character's perspective) or social studies (write a poem from a historical figure's point of view).

I think it's also challenging to have students write as if they were an object. One of my most successful assignments came to me when I noticed someone's hat on the roof of our school. Students wrote poems in the hat's voice that told the story of how in the world it got up there. Good fun and yet another example of how poetry can bring the oft-neglected aspect of PLAY into the classroom.

One thing that's helpful to have when assigning poetry writing assignments is mentor poems, poems written by others (be it published/famous poets or other students) that can serve as models and inspiration.

There are plenty of mentor persona poems out there, but today I found a good one while looking for some poems by one of my favorite poets, Nikki Giovanni:


by Nikki Giovanni

(for Sally Sellers)

Like a fading piece of cloth
I am a failure

No longer do I cover tables filled with food and laughter
My seams are frayed my hems falling my strength no longer able
To hold the hot and cold

I wish for those first days
When just woven I could keep water
From seeping through
Repelled stains with the tightness of my weave
Dazzled the sunlight with my 

Read the rest of the poem at I love how the poet makes me feel (I know this isn't eloquently stated, but it's true) like a quilt. And this is definitely going to be one of the mentor poems I use when teaching persona poems in the future.

Please check out the Poetry Friday roundup, which today is being hosted at Paper Tigers.

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  1. I am the reference librarian at an urban community college. I have charge of the bulletin boards and I started putting up poems for Friday Poetry. This one is going into my collection!! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  2. I've shared this poem with my students as well, but not as a Persona Poem...I shall have to try this idea!

  3. What wonderful ideas - I love that you got your students to write in the voice of the hat...

  4. The best prompts are always the most real for the children, aren't they?!?!