This is a conversation I have with myself every once in a while that I thought would be good to share with you all.
Second Person, what the hell are we supposed to do with that?
So my most common issue is when it’s best to use second person. I mean, there’s a reason that teachers brush over it in early writing classes (my mother had no idea what it was). Second person, or the use of you as the subject has long been an issue of mine. I love using it, and often I need to remove it from work because it is too aggressive. So for this post I want to make a little list about the pros and cons, and why it was actually better to add it into this poem:
It’s aggressive maybe people don’t agree with or want to be part of that piece of writing
It accuses reader of doing or believing in the dogma of the piece
It limits the action to what the reader sees and knows of themselves, since they are subject
People don’t know how to deal with or edit for a subject that has fewer rules than the first or second persons’ that we are more familiar with
Sets up a duality between the speaker and the reader, like a conversation or a monologue on stage
Makes the reader feel more present & involved, it is them after all
It feels more familiar like a party we are all going to, even you!
It cuts the character list by removing the need to introduce some random person, it’s already you, so now there can be more content.
Those aside (and I’m sure there are more for each list) I love using you. It feels present and pressing and casual. It makes the writing flow and gives me the room to make the conversation about us (the reader and I) rather than some third party person the reader may or may not get involved with.
For this poem the you was a natural change. The fever is already there, and the personal conflict felt more raw when it was a person, not just some body, and when that person was right here and now.
Second person is an amazing tool few feel comfortable using. With some pros and cons, the use of you as a subject instead of a third party or a first person, me, makes the poems more real and often more fun to read.