Author versus Speaker

A simple yet crucial concept, especially when it comes to poetry, is the position of the author and the speaker. I’ll provide a brief recap: the author is the person who wrote the work, the speaker is the narrator or who is telling the story to the audience. In poetry, I think of the dramatic monologue by John DonneĀ My Last Duchess, in which the author is Donne and the speaker is a fictional character. You can find the poem here.

I won’t belabor a straightforward idea, but I want to draw attention to it to remind writers of the possibilities of perspective and that “We lose vast amounts of possibilities in writing when we only focus on ourselves as subjects” (quoted from a blog that goes into further detail).

One Reply to “Author versus Speaker”

  1. Oliver,
    While I agree with your post on a basic level, I don’t think that writers can ever really divorce themselves completely from the subjects or characters they’ve created. We do a great disservice to the author if we always assume that the speaker equals the author, but I also think it’s important not to divorce the two completely. What we write is colored by our perceptions of the world around us, and sometimes it is that unique worldview that gives a poem its voice. Sometimes, though, poets do write about their experiences, and I think we should consider that when looking at pieces, at the risk of misunderstanding the poet’s meaning. There is always a person behind the poem, and it is important to remember that they have a place in the inner workings of their poems.

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