Fine Arts Work Center In Provincetown

24Pearlstreet Workshops

Oliver De La Paz Lovers, Liars, Monsters, Saints: You and the Persona Poem Poetry June 18 to July 13, 2018 Tuition: $500 Class Size: 15 Session: summer Level: 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 of four collections of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, Requiem for the Orchard, and Post Subject: A Fable. He also co-edited A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. A founding member, Oliver serves as the co-chair of the Kundiman advisory board. Additionally he serves on the Executive Board of Trustees for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as American Poetry Review, Tin House, The Southern Review, and Poetry. He teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at PLU.