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The Character in Poems, Including Your Speaker as a Character & an Avatar of Yourself Who is Not You, Patrick Donnelly

March 22 @ 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm


** Please note: this intensive seminar will now be taught online using Zoom, given that the public health concern surrounding coronavirus will prevent an in-person class. Zoom is a very user-friendly platform to facilitate online classes using a computer. Expect to receive login instructions from your instructor prior to the class date. **

Emily Dickinson wrote “When I state myself, as the Representative of the Verse—it does not mean—me—but a supposed person…” Nevertheless some readers of poetry seem to doubt that poets are as capable as other writers of making things (and people) up. So we’ll reexamine that old concept of the poem’s speaker, and other characters, as differentiated from the author (though perhaps sharing some of the author’s characteristics and history), analogous to characters in fiction, films, plays, operas, etc. How does a poet create the speech of a quite specific person who, though fictional or partly fictional, SEEMS absolutely real (or, in the case of poems not in 1stperson, evokes such a person)? And how might a poet use the device of imagined speakers or characters as a strategy for enacting human character flaws that some readers, in all honesty, might not wish to be shown or find unacceptable to read about, and what are some authorial strategies for keeping readers engaged with such “difficult” characters?

Patrick Donnelly is the author of four books of poetry. Former poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, Donnelly is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, and an associate editor of Poetry International. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Massachusetts Review, Ploughshares, Slate, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Yale Review, and many other journals. Donnelly’s translations with Stephen D. Miller of classical Japanese poetry were awarded the 2015-2016 Japan- U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Donnelly’s other awards include a U.S./Japan Creative Artists Program Award, an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Margaret Bridgman Fellowship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and an Amy Clampitt Residency Award. He lives outside of Northampton, Massachusetts. He taught one of the most popular HVWC one-day class of 2019.


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March 22
12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
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Hudson Valley Writers Center
Philipse Manor Station
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591 United States