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Determining a speaker in poetry

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Caroline Huddleston

on 25 March 2011

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Transcript of Determining a speaker in poetry

Determining a speaker in poetry “We Real Cool”
By Gwendolyn Brooks The Pool Players. Seven at The Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
Your opener ... Answer the following questions on your ½ sheet. It’s OK if you don’t know all the answers, but you must write something for each question.

Who is/are the speaker/s in the poem? How do you know? (Pay attention to the first two lines.)
Why do you think the poet chooses this speaker’s point of view?
What message is the poet trying to send to young people? Finding the speaker: Is a poem’s author the same as its speaker?
Sometimes
Definitely NOT always

Another term for speaker is persona

What are some reasons a poet might write from another speaker or persona’s point of view? Now read this poem ... “Alley Cat Love Song”
By Dana Gioia Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I'll wait by the screen door till dawn.

The fireflies court in the sweetgum tree.
The nightjar calls from the pine,
And she seems to say in her rhapsody,
"Oh, mustard-brown Fred, be mine!“
The full moon lights my whiskers afire,
And the fur goes erect on my spine.

I hear the frogs in the muddy lake
Croaking from shore to shore.
They've one swift season to soothe their ache.
In autumn they sing no more.
So ignore me now, and you'll hear my meow
As I scratch all night at the door.
On your new 1/2 sheet ... 1. Who is the speaker/persona in this poem? Give him/her a name.

2. How do you know who the speaker is? List the clues the poet gives you.

3. On your own paper, write a 6-8 line poem in response to this speaker. YOUR POEM CAN BE FROM ANY POINT OF VIEW, AS LONG AS IT'S NOT HUMAN. Some possible speakers for your poem:
The object of her affection (Fred)
The neighborhood tabby
The flowers/plants in the garden
Her flea collar
The fireflies
The Nightjar
The frogs
The screen door
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