Jeanie Thompson

"...through the land of darkness and silence..."

The Journey and Responsibility of Historical Persona Poetry


Today, poets are exploring how to engage readers with history by entering the lives of characters. This increasingly a well-regarded genre is called historical persona poetry. When former Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X. Walker visited Montgomery, Alabama, he met with students in George W. Carver High School’s library. “There ought to be a section in every library,” Walker said, “labeled historical persona poetry.” Like Shakespeare's soliloquies and Robert Browning's dramatic monologues, historical persona poems reveal character, motivation, and the human soul through intimate speech – sometimes addressed to an auditor and sometimes in a moment of self-reflection.