The Persona

As Rimbaud famously wrote, sometimes I is another: but who? Who is speaking in a poem dissociated from the lyric I? What are the challenges, pitfalls and advantages associated with using a persona in contemporary poetry? In this generative, six-week online workshop, we’ll read and write poems that use personas, whether they be fictional characters, historical personages or autobiographical stand-ins, and explore some of the powerful and potentially thorny issues involved in the use of this device. Readings will draw on a wide range of poets (including Browning, Frank Bidart, Ai, Anne Carson, Mary Jo Bang and others) as we investigate notions of voice and representation across the poetic spectrum. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Thursday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details


Gregory Crosby is the author of Said No One Ever, Walking Away from Explosions in Slow Motion, Spooky Action at a Distance and The Book of Thirteen. For more than a decade he worked as an art critic, columnist and cultural commentator in Las Vegas, where he served as a poetry consultant for the Cultural Affairs Division. He was awarded a Nevada Arts Council Fellowship in Literary Arts and holds an MFA in creative writing from the City College of New York, where he won the 2006 Marie Ponsot Poetry Prize. From 2010–2014 he co-curated the Earshot reading series, and from 2011–2015 he coedited the online poetry journal Lyre Lyre. He is an adjunct associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and teaches creative writing at Lehman College–CUNY.