NaPoWriMo Day#26: Another Person’s Point of View

Amy Grier
2 min readApr 26, 2020


Write a poem from the point of view of a historical figure.

Marie Curie (née Maria Salomea Skłodowska) circa 1921. Wikimedia Commons

I’ll be honest — I’ve been looking for an excuse to use one of my favorite 21st century poems to inspire a prompt.

What’s important in this exercise, especially if you’re an “I” poet — someone who writes mainly from the close, first person point of view — is to use that pronoun when seeing through the eyes of someone else.

The most accessible way to explore this is by imagining the life of someone culturally well-known. It’s easier not to project our own feelings and assumptions onto someone we don’t know personally.

Let’s look at an excerpt from this marvelous poem by Julianna Baggott, “Marie Curie Gives Advice to her Daughter Irene Before her Wedding” (32 Poems Vol 3 No 1 p. 22). It begins with Curie reflecting on her daughter’s infancy:

I remember this moment — the pram distilled,
its sediment was an infant,
no longer something born from me,
not residue, not pitchblende,
but its own particle…

Then the speaker, Curie, remembers the death of her husband Pierre, run over by a horse-drawn carriage:

Years I have soaked
in radium.
I’ve begun to bleed light.
I see your father again
crossing streets in rain —

The final lines are stunning and full of dreadful meaning:

My hope, daughter, is that
what you love doesn’t come to kill you,
eye by eye, ear by ear, bone by radiant bone.

Baggott’s poem imagines Curie as an older, wiser, radiation-sick scientist who sees her own scientist daughter headed for a similar fate. She’s powerless to change it and can only hope for something better.

Write a poem imagined through the eyes of a historical figure. It can be an artist, a scientist, a musician, politician, writer, anyone who serves as a cultural touchstone in your life. What event specific to them might you imagine? How do they feel and think? What words would they use that you wouldn’t? What do they hope for? What are they afraid of?



Amy Grier

Writer & editor. MFA Lesley Uni. Singer/pianist. Blogger @Brevitymag. Published Streetlight Mag, Poetry East & more. Current project: memoir, Terrible Daughter