Friday, March 26, 2010

Historical Persona Poems--some inspiration

Kim here--Nancy and Pam are off in D.C. convincing the legislature to restore NWP funding to the budget in a way that states will not have to apply individually for funds. This is a serious issue for NWP, and if you haven't had a chance to contact your legislators yet to ask them to sign the "Dear Colleague" letter in support of the NWP, please visit the NWP Works website for information on how to do this.

But now for something completely different. Last night I attended a reading by Frank X. Walker at the UND Writers Conference, and it was great. He specializes in what he calls "historical poetry"--writing poems in the voices of under-represented, real-life figures from American history. Last night he mostly read from his two collections about York, the slave who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. He also read his new work, about the assassination of Medgar Evers, which has poems in the voice of the assassin, the assassin's wife, Evers' wife, and even the bullet itself.

What a fabulous genre to explore some cross-disciplinary writing between language arts and social studies. Walker described some of the historical persona poems his own students have written--including some in the voice of Elvis Presley's dead twin! Here's a clip of Frank reading one of his persona poems in the voice of York: