I have to write a dialogue that might take place between the speakers of The World Is Not a Pleasant Place to Be" and "Where Have You Gone." What exactly is a dialogue?"

A dialogue is simply a snippet of conversation between two or more characters. In the case of this assignment, you should assume that each poem represents the thoughts of a particular character. You'll be writing out an imaginary conversation between these two speakers that reveals an understanding of their personalities based on their poems.

To get your creative juices flowing, read the poems several times and think about what kind of person would have those thoughts. If you know something about the authors, that may help — but the characteristics of the speakers don't have to be exactly the same as that of the author. (Remember, poems often convey different things to different people, and that's okay!) It may help to imagine that you're interviewing each of the speakers. In your imagination, write down what you think their answers would be to questions such as

  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • What is your occupation (if any)?
  • What things make you happy in life?
  • What are your biggest frustrations?

Keep going until you have a picture in your mind about what each of the poem's speakers is like as an individual. Then, imagine that the two of them are alone in a room together. Would they be friends? Do they have things in common? Would their personalities clash? What would they talk about?

Experiment with a few scenarios before you settle on something to write for your assignment. Write out their conversation (or, dialogue) as you would write a play. If you have named your characters, be sure to add a note at the top of the page explaining which character is which. If you have a particular scene in mind where this dialogue is taking place, you can note that also.

As with any writing assignment, if you're unsure about what your teacher wants you can — and should — ask clarifying questions about the overall length, format, and purpose. With clear guidelines, this assignment could turn out to be a lot of fun. Good luck!