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Who is a Poem's Persona? Poems Oral Narratives Notes

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Last Updated: 11th June, 2020

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Introduction to Persona

- A persona is a character taken on by a poet to speak in a poem.
- Dramatic monologues create a persona; however, as a poem using a persona need not tell a reader anything about the situation of the speaker, the narrative, or the person that the poem is spoken to, a persona-poem need not be a dramatic monologue.

Example of a Poem with a Persona

Below is a part of a freedom poem by Marjorie Oludhe-Macgoye.
Can you identify the Persona?

Atieno washes dishes,
Atieno plucks the chicken,
Atieno gets up early,
Beds her sacks down in the kitchen,
Atieno eight years old,
Atieno yo.

Since she is my sister’s child
Atieno needs no pay.
While she works my wife can sit
Sewing every sunny day:
With her earnings I support
Atieno yo.

The persona in the poem is Atieno's uncle. He says (In line 7); “since she’s my sister’s child/Atieno needs no pay. How can you tell its the uncle and not the aunt? Look at line 9; While she works my wife can sit.

Depending on the poem, a persona can be:

A politician wants to come off to voters as a regular, nice guy who cares about normal people. He uses folksy language and common metaphors, he appears on TV shows and is congenial and he is always friendly and joking. He has a positive public persona as someone who cares about others.

A businessman wants others to think that he is very powerful and successful. He drives a fancy car, buys a big house, wears expensive clothing and talks down to people that he thinks are below him on the social ladder. The persona he presents to the world is that he is a rich guy but not very nice or compassionate.

A business person wants others to think that he is charitable and kind. He offers lots of benefits and perks to his employees and he makes sure that his business publicly gives lots of money to charities and positive social causes. His persona is that he is a good guy.

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