24PearlStreet Workshops and Events

Oliver de la Paz Lovers, Liars, Monsters, Saints: You and the Persona Poem Poetry June 18 to July 13, 2018 Number of Participants: 15 Price: $500 Format: 4 Week Asynchronous Workshop

Ancient Greeks wore masks to express the emotions of the characters they were playing during dramatic productions. There was a pragmatic reason for this–it was often difficult for those seated far away to see what emotion the character being portrayed was feeling. And so the exaggerated face could be seen from the furthest reaches of the mezzanine. But adopting the persona of a subject has been employed long before Antiquity. At the onset of our own social and neurological development, we act. We pretend. We are someone else. It is, thus, natural for writers to attempt to embody the voices, thoughts, and actions of the other.

Characters in stories are masks we the teller of the stories wear. We are even wearing masks as we write about our own lives. To wear a mask is indeed, a primal creative act, and in this course we will create and examine poems that employ the use of masks as its chief structural quality. We will read the work of contemporary poets who write in personas other than their own in order to engage in strategies for our own writing. We will also write several persona poems based off of various prompts.


Oliver de la Paz is the author and editor of seven books including The Diaspora Sonnets, which was a winner of the 2023 New England Book Award, and longlisted for the National Book Award. He is the Poet Laureate of Worcester, MA, and teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University.

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