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Department: Poetic Expressions

Students Writing Poetry

Mooney, Sharon Fish; Little, Ansley

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Journal of Christian Nursing: April/June 2020 - Volume 37 - Issue 2 - p 126
doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000697
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This issue includes a poem by Ansley Little, a senior nursing student from Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis, Missouri. We thank her for her poem and welcome many more! “A Little More Caring” is a good example of a persona poem or a poem written from the perspective of a person other than the poet. In this poem, the persona is a patient. The poet puts herself in the patient's position and seeks to identify with him. What is he feeling? What is he thinking? What is his perspective of the nurse or nurses caring for him? Is it, in fact, caring or perceived as caring? What is the nurse communicating by his or her actions and by verbal comments and nonverbal facial expressions?

Previously, I have recommended persona poems as very fitting for nurses to write. It's worth repeating. Such poems can help us enter the personal experiences of our hospitalized patients, home care clients, or nursing home residents, and make us more sensitive to their psychosocial and spiritual needs.

Robert Brewer (2016), in a Writer's Digest column, “The Many Faces of Persona Poems,” reminds us that the word persona is Latin for “mask.” The persona poem is written in the first person in which the speaker is not the author but puts on the identity (mask) of someone other than himself. For more examples of persona poems and tips on writing them, go to

Writing poetry from our patients' perspectives can put us all in the role of student as we reflect on patients' experiences and learn from them. Many schools of nursing require students to participate in various forms of service-learning. Students offer their services to various organizations and churches such as food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and crisis pregnancy centers. Meeting people who one might not normally encounter also provides opportunities for reflection and increased sensitivity. What might those who are the hungry be thinking and feeling? What are their needs beyond the physical? What fears and concerns does a young, unmarried mother-to-be have that a nurse needs to understand in order to better meet her needs? Reflecting and writing poetry can help with that understanding.

As you read Ansley's poem, reflect on those for whom you have cared this week or might care for in the future. If you could wear their masks, what would you say, think, and feel? Put those words, thoughts, and feelings into a poem.

A Little More Caring

By AnsleyLittle

I can hear you.

Do you think I can't see?

You keep poking and prodding.

I don't think you see me.

I understand your words.

I understand your mood

but I just need some water.

I just need some food.

You push and you pull.

You ask if I'm okay.

I yell out in pain.

I hope you will stay.

You ask me some questions.

I try to respond.

My answers come slowly and

soon you move on.

I can do nothing

at all for myself.

I feel like I'm broken,

an old book on the shelf.

I've lived a rich life.

I have battles I've won

but it seems all you see

is a job to be done.

Can't you see that I'm here?

Don't you know I have feelings?

My words may not come

but I still can have healing

Just hold my hand or

just rub my back.

Look into my eyes,

maybe my wall will crack.

I'm a person, I promise

and I'm still me inside.

My tears are real.

Please don't push them aside.

I'm hurting, I'm yearning

for someone to see

that I never, no never,

will stop being me.

I've loved and I've laughed.

My children are grown

and now here I am

in a hospital gown.

There's beeping and dripping,

there's poking and draining.

But I could just do with

a little more caring.


Brewer R. (2016, January 19). The many faces of persona poems. Writer's Digest.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship