The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Conference Schedule 2019

Conference Schedule 2019

Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

The Art of Persona: Condensing Social Distance Between Poet and Mask with J Allen

Date(s): Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
Thoren, University Club (view map)
Genre and Form(s): Poetry
Tags: Privilege, Race, Persona, Stereotypes, Drafts

About the Session

How does privilege affect authors’ renderings of the masks they employ? What exactly, for example, makes Anders Carlson-Wee’s “How To” poem, which recently appeared in The Nation, minstrelsy instead of persona? How does one avoid falling into stereotypical and indolent writing practices while engaging with persona? In this session, we will find out — studying daring and effective examples of persona poems that collapse social distance between poet and mask, such as Ai’s “The Kid," Gregory Pardlo’s “Alienation Effects,” Frank Bidart’s “Herbert White,” Patricia Smith’s "Skinhead,” among others. Participants will leave with a clear understanding of the power dynamics behind persona and drafts of their own pieces going forward.

Meet the Presenter(s)

A Black Box

J Allen has received fellowships & scholarships from Tin House, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Community of Writers, & VONA, among others. Along with Jari Bradley & Willie Kinard III, J is a founding member of the Black queer gospel trio The Upper Room Collective.