13 Writing the Body: Mind/Brain Persona Poem – Writing Exercise

Authors: Anastacia-Reneé, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Shauna M. Morgan

Target Group: High School, Undergraduate


Nandi Comer, “Why I Don’t Call On Cops” (Furious Flower 2019, pp. 289-290)


This generative writing exercise asks students/writers to read Nandi Comer’s poem “Why I Don’t Call on Cops” then write a poem personifying a body part. The poem can be in direct conversation with Comer’s poem and/or focus on the brain/mind, or the poem can focus on the various networks or bodily functions the brain controls, i.e. heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure.

Learning Objectives:

Students will hone their analytical skills by engaging, interrogating, and examining Nandi Comer’s poem “Why I Don’t Call on Cops’” to deepen their level of observation and comprehension. Using the poem as a foundation and inspiration, students will create one original poem and expand their use of poetic devices, specifically focusing on personification of the body.


  • Read “Why I Don’t Call on Cops” and note your first impressions of the poem.
  • Identify all the places where the mind/brain appear or are referenced.
  • Draft your own poem considering the following questions:
    • What would the brain say?
    • What does the brain seek?
    • When does it rest and when is it most active?
    • How would the brain perceive itself?

Supplemental Activities:

  • Listen to “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me” by Geto Boys and explore connections with the poem.
  • Have students spend three minutes exploring and thinking about their brain/mind.
  • Review the anatomy of the brain.
  • Read in more detail about the brain and how it works.
  • Review what a persona poem is and read this essay on persona poems by Rebecca Hazelton.


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The Furious Flower Syllabus Project: Opening the World of Black Poetry Copyright © 2024 by Anastacia-Reneé; allia abdullah-matta; Ariana Benson; Mary Beth Cancienne; Teri Ellen Cross Davis; Shameka Cunningham; Hayes Davis; Tyree Daye; Angel C. Dye; Brian Hannon; T.J. Hendrix; DaMaris B. Hill; Meta DuEwa Jones; Shauna M. Morgan; Adrienne Danyelle Oliver; Leona Sevick; James Smethurst; Dana A. Williams; L. Lamar Wilson; Carmin Wong; Dave Wooley; and Joanne V. Gabbin (preface) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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