Dramatic Monologue Paint Chip Poetry Prompt

I am loving the opportunity to read through each section of the poetry dictionary by John Drury. I’m discovering so many things about poetry I didn’t know. When picking the entry to post for this prompt, I think of all of you and ponder what you might like to write. Of course, you can’t please all the people all the time, but I hope enough of you are enjoying learning new things about poetry too. You definitely rise to the challenge every week.

The Challenge

This week we are in the D section of the dictionary and I’ve decided to challenge you all to write dramatic monologue, defined as follows:

DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE Poem spoken by a character or through a persona (Greek for “mask”), rather than by the poet or an unidentified *speaker.

In a dramatic monologue, the speaker must be identified, although he need not be named. The character who speaks the monologue will usually be human, but it an be an animal (like the pig in Philip Levine’s “Animals Are Passing from Our Lives,” . . .), a plant (like “The Red Poppy” by Louise Glück . . .), or perhaps an inanimate object. The speaker can be a real person, an imaginary character, a historical or literary figure—anyone except the poet or some neutral voice. Robert Browning‘s dramatic monologues essentially lifted the Shakespearean soliloquy out of the play and presented it without the larger context of a whole drama, without the actual interaction of characters on a stage. All of the action is compressed into the monologue, which may either be spoken or written to another character or spoken in isolation, the speaker talking to himself. Events before the monologue must be suggested or mentioned. When the speaker is unaware of the implications of what he says, but the implied listener or the reader understands them, the monologue contains dramatic *irony.

the poetry dictionary, pages 78-79.

You may decide who your speaker will be first, and then figure out what they will say using the paint chip words and phrases. Or perhaps the paint chips will help you decide who your speaker will be. It’s up to you. Please title your poem “____________ Speaks.” And please include at least four of these words and phrases in your dramatic monologue: bluebird, Earl Grey, pearl, mountain town, baby sweater, rain forest, and cello.

My Poem

To determine my speaker, I pondered the words and wondered who might speak them. Who, indeed. I can think of no one who would use them all in a single monologue. Which is why I’m only asking you to use four instead of all seven. No doubt some of you will figure out a way to use them all.

Kenneth the Kermode Bear Speaks

The Great Bear Rainforest is my home sweet home
I'm Canadian, don'tcha know, living on the outskirts
Of a tiny mountain town, population thirty-five

There's a guy in town plays the cello soft and low
I hear it in the evening when I'm ready for a nap
It's a bit chilly and I wish I had a cuppa Earl Grey

I know, I know, bears don't drink tea, but sometimes
This pearly white fur doesn't do the trick, chills set in
And then I know it's time to hibernate for the winter

I crawl into my cozy den, fat from the summer and 
Late fall feasting on berries and salmon, and I drift away
Dreaming of bluebirds singing in the coming spring

Your Turn

Okay, now it’s your turn to write a dramatic monologue. Who will your speaker be? I can’t wait to see. Post your monologue in the comments, or post it on your own blog and link in the comments. If you write one but don’t want to share it online, I’d love to know that you’ve been inspired too. And invite your poet friends over to join the fun.

I am a Jesus Freak, and I don't care who knows it. I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend. My blood family is only part of the larger family of Christ that I belong to. I love to write, especially about my dear Savior.


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