Dialogue Poems: First Person Narrator

22 Mar

8:41 am, Tuesday Tryouts –Atlanta

I am spending a lot of time with the dialogue poems because dialogue is not seen that often and it is an effective strategy for adding drama. I have one more set of exercises after this one and then three or four examples that you might enjoy using as models.

Sometimes the speaker who tells the poem also talks in it. Thus we have a first-person speaker narrating.


“Lately I’ve been eating a lot of pork.
Plus I eat too many eggs and things,”
this guy said to me in the doc’s office.
“I pour on the salt. I drink twenty cups
of coffee every day. I smoke.
I’m having trouble with my breathing.”
Then he lowered his eyes.
“Plus, I don’t always clear off the table
when I’m through eating. I forget.
I just get up; and walk away.
Goodbye until the next time, brother.
Mister, what do you think is happening to me?”
He was describing my own symptoms to a T.
I said, “What do you think’s happening?
You’re losing your marbles. And then
you’re going to die. Or vice versa.
What about sweets? Are you partial
to cinnamon rolls and ice cream?”
“Plus, I crave all that,” he said.
By this time we were at a place called Friendly’s.
We looked at menus and went on talking.
Dinner music played from a radio
in the kitchen. It was our song, see.
It was our table.

–Raymond Carver


Think of several strange or dramatic conversations in which you have participated.

Pick one to write about.

Draft a Dialogue Poem with an I (first-person) Speaker to narrate the poem. You may write as much first-person narration as you wish, but work for a couple of exchanges of dialogue between the conversationalists.

Feel free to fictionalise as long as your imagination can help to create a poem more interesting than reality.

Begin in medias res. No hello!

As always, I would love to have you leave a link in the comments anytime, should you write a poem. I will see you Thursday for a wrapup of revision, that might take a couple of Thursdays, depending on the length of the wrapup. And I will see you Friday for the roundup of prompts and exercises for the week. Happy writing.


Posted by on 22/03/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Dialogue Poems: First Person Narrator

  1. pamela

    22/03/2011 at 3:13 pm

    Margo, I shall give it a whirl:)


  2. margo roby

    22/03/2011 at 3:16 pm

    This one has some interesting potential for usefulness. When I show examples week after next you’ll see some great first person conversation poems. Meanwhile, have fun 🙂


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