Dramatic Monologue Using “Storycorps” as inspiration.
Definition • A poem in which an imagined speaker addresses a silent listener, usually not the reader. • The subject discussed is usually far less interesting than what is inadvertently revealed about the speaker himself. (For example in Browning’s My Last Duchess, the Count, in his description of a painting made of his wife, reveals how cruelly he treated her. )
The reason poets choose to write poems like this is to express a point of view through the words of a character. • Often the opinions stated by that character are not the same as the views of the poet. • Most of the time, the speaker is trying to convince someone of something, and may or may not be telling the whole truth. • Sometimes what the speaker doesn't say is just as revealing and interesting as what he or she does say in the poem. • In “Night, Death Mississippi” Robert Hayden adopts the ageing voice of a clan member, listening longingly to a lynching going on outside:
Christ, it was better than hunting bear which don’t know why you want him dead. • The effect of reading the casual violence of the poem is more devastating than any commentary the poet could have provided.
Example • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz2bto1ZVH0 • This is an excellent example of a Dramatic Monologue, written by Robin Robertson. • In it, he adopts the voice of the selkie, a mythological creature from Scottish folklore. The stories tend to be Romantic tragedies where, a woman does not know that the handsome man is a selkie (half seal) and falls in love with him, only for him to return to the sea without explanation. • In some stories the woman prevents the selkie from returning to the sea by stealing and hiding his seal skin. • When a selkie returns to the sea, he cannot contact the woman again for seven years.
Storycorps • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeroZRnax_o
PLanning • Using this Storycorps story as an example, think about where you might “start” this story. • Think about what you would say are the most powerful images from this story? • The image of the twin towers-linked to the mythical twin? • The image of the car race • The contrast between the macho Italian guy from Brooklyn and the dough-eyed lover. • The aggressor contrasted with the awakening of love • The image of his window overlooking the East River, which framed the towers for him. • The image of him throwing the chair through the window. • The image he remembers of her-her eyes in particular • His final promise.