Photo provided by Curtis Crisler

Photo by Teri Luce

Curtis L. Crisler’s forthcoming poetry book, “This” Ameri-can-ah, will be released in 2015 by Cherry Castle Publishing. Black Achilles was released in 2015 by Accents Publishing. His one-act play Fade was published in Eleven Eleven: Journal of Literature & Art. His other books are Pulling Scabs (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Tough Boy Sonatas (YA), and Dreamist: a mixed-genre novel (YA). His chapbooks are Wonderkind (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Soundtrack to Latchkey Boy, and Spill. His poetry has been adapted to theatrical productions in New York and Chicago. His fiction piece, “The Gift” (first published in The New Sound: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Arts and Literature), was adapted into a short film by the independent filmmaker, Timeca Seretti (Austin, TX), and was featured in Gary’s Independent Film Festival 2014. He is an Associate Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and a Cave Canem Fellow.

Curtis Crisler talks about personification and persona in “Overseer” and “Black Achilles.”



By Curtis Crisler

Inconvenience puts his arms around me. This hug
weighs world-winds and begs like infidelity’s lip-

stick marks. He wants me to learn how to fall again.
There’s no sophistication to hitting the ground. I do

it harder now, not like sad demigods. Now, I aim
for couches, beds, and the carpet instead of linoleum

floors. I am piss-ant marvelous, distracting a biting
splint in my leg. I never knew walking my obstacle,

and all those in wheelchairs, with canes, with no
limbs make me feel the sacrilege against collagen,

the separating of myself; me against me, my taut
tendon breaking itself in two. Inconvenience puffs

out his chest, proud in making me flounder to the
ground. I heard Inconvenience put hands on Lucifer

to spark fires. He bends me over for reclamation,
to do it all again, to let me know what tender means.


Black Achilles

By Curtis Crisler

This god has fallen
My damn fingers go against me
Work to keep me balanced on new appendages

Crutches guide me now
It is good if I don’t misinterpret my new swagger
How I once feared nothing—heartache, gun shots, tsunamis

I now fear stairs
I have counted them out—13
Down and up, all the superstitions

I have left myself to gain more of myself
Finding myself in another mindset—a carnival game
And like all carnival games, the house was against me

I could not win, have learned the creaky banister a friendly
Like some adventurer it holds me up, as I hear my neighbors voices
Behind closed doors

I don’t want them to see me like this, flailing, obnoxious
I don’t want their hands of assistance
I want my tendon healed

Zeus cannot see this, so turns his head
Elohim cannot see this, so smiles at me
Kali cannot see this, so empowerment’s limp

The Coyote will not regurgitate the sun, or howl at me
I beseech them all, anything to get back to me
There is no compromise

I must do the work, so I transform into something strange
Something like Doc Octopus, with impediments
Ready to avenge all my shortcomings


[Both of the poems are from Black Achilles, a chapbook published by Accents Publishing (2015).]


Writing Prompt: Please follow this link Curtis_Personification and Persona Prompt to a Personification and Persona Prompt Curtis Crisler prepared just for you.

Definition of Terms

Personification happens when you give human qualities to an animal or inanimate object.

Persona, as Curtis Crisler discusses, is where the voice of the narrator comes from in the poem. (Sometimes we, as poets, think about adopting masks or other personalities to be able to write poems in other personas. You might be a twenty year old who writes from the persona of a person at the end of his or her life.)

The narrator is the character/voice that is created to tell the story in the poem, story, etc.

The speaker is the narrator in a poem.



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