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Poems About People- Portrait Poems

It's Poetry Friday and if you are keen to find out more then slide across to this week's generous host Bridget Magee's blog site . Here you'll discover exactly what a host of poets are presently exploring and sharing. Be curious- learn lots!

This week I'm looking at you and me and that person over there. It's all about us!

When it comes to writing poems about people, it is difficult to know where to start. To write a poem about a person requires you to closely observe your subject with a keen eye for detail. 

You must also consider your feelings about them and then try to express those feeling and observations in the best possible way. Some of that detail may be about physical appearance, some stand out feature, maybe what they wear. 

You will most certainly consider their personality and particular qualities the person displays- both good and not so good. When we write in this way we are trying to create an impression of that person based on the available evidence. People are a fascination too hard to resist...

So, I now share with you, three poems (sometimes called Portrait Poems) concerning people, or maybe some poems about concerning people. You can decide for yourself.

Shirley Hurley

Shirley Hurley

Hair quite curly

Starts her morning 

Bright and early

Shirley Hurley

Never surly

Rides into the city’s hurly burly 

Into the city

Shirley ventures

Passing folk 

Asleep on benches

She rides her bicycle

Rings her bell

Passers by 

Wish her well

To the factory

Shirley’s winging

Arrives for work

Cheerfully singing

Shirley dons her uniform

And every day 

She does perform

Makes her workmates cups of tea

And each day

Does it happily 

Shirley Hurley

Hair quite curly

Starts her morning 

Bright and early.

© Alan j Wright

Wishy Washy Norman

Norman declined to state his position

So when issues rose

He had no opposition

Local or global

Small or immense

Norman preferred

To sit on the fence

There he sat perched

Atop the palings

His lack of commitment

Among his myriad failings.

© Alan j Wright 

Feeling Chipper

Rhonda serves me

Fish and chips

Serves them up with edgy quips

Salt and vinegar on her lips

She smiles across the counter

Rhonda works

For Fisherman Pete

Fish and chips and lots of heat

All day standing on her feet

While frying smells surround her

Rhonda works there

Through the week

Gives the orders quite a tweak

Never mild, never meek

I’m rather fond of Rhonda

Rhonda fries potato cakes

Scallops, croquettes, all it takes

Among the many things she makes

They all go in her fryer

A streak of batter in her hair

Rhonda doesn’t seem to care

She dips the flake, the cooker’s flare

Rhonda’s always chipper.

© Alan j Wright

Poems About Us


  1. Delightful wordplay about three unique characters, Alan. I think I quite like Shirley Hurley best though. We need people who are "cheerfully singing" and are never "surly" despite the "hurly burly" world. Thanks for the smiles. : )

    1. Thank you Bridget. Shirley is a delightful character . Glad you enjoyed the wordplay and pleased my poems about people brought a smile.

  2. What a trio! Like Bridget, I love cheerful Shirley - but fence-sitting Norman reminded me of people I know :)

    1. Thank you Sally. Yes, Norman is reminiscent of people we all know. We need more people like Shirley without a doubt.

  3. Thanks for this fun start to my morning! I feel like I know these characters.

    1. Happy to provide a fun start to your morning Rose and I'm pleased my characters have some familiarity to them. Such an observation is reassuring.

  4. Enjoyed meeting these poem people, Alan. I think Rhonda is my fave because I love fish and chips. :) Thanks for the fun poems.

    1. Ah Jama, we are all influenced by our experienced and preferences and Rhonda's fish and chips are quite compelling. Glad you had fun reading about my people...

  5. Enjoyed this, Alan. It is tricky to write a person, yet you succeeded! Three times! Thanks!

    1. Thank you Karen. Your feedback is appreciated.

  6. Well, I 'think' I know who you love best, especially around lunch or dinner time. I do like the observations about Shirley Hurley from on her way to while she's there, at work! It would be fun to write a series of all kinds of people going to work. Thanks for these, Alan, yes, another kind of observation!

    1. Your idea of a collection of poems about people going to and about their work has lots to recommend it Linda. An interesting thought... It is as you say another kind of observation and poetry thrives on this as we know. As a child I loved fish and chips. The smell was so alluring and the taste irresistible. As an adult, I rarely eat them any more. Still find the smell quite tempting. My Grandson was eating them the other day and tried very hard to tempt me. I remained strong. Next time? who knows...

  7. Alan, your take on life and its inhabitants are keen but your use of rhythm and rhyme bring your characters to life. I enjoyed your three characters. I know people who are on the fence. Not sure why they stay there.

    1. Carol, I appreciate your observations and I am pleased you found enjoyment in meeting my three diverse characters. I think some people sit on the fence out of fear of making a mistake. They haven't quite got the confidence to adopt a 'who dares wins' approach to life.

  8. Replies
    1. Indeed it was certainly fun to write about these individuals. So, if it was fun to read, I am most fortunate to have you read about them Ruth.

  9. Alan, these are such fun to read - can't help smiling at the personalities. Well, except for Norman. I feel he's missing out on life.

    1. Thanks Fran. Glad my words brought a smile, well mostly. I agree with you Norman is missing out on life. Poor Norman...

  10. These are a delight, Alan! I especially love the line "salt and vinegar on her lips." Your word play always brings a smile to mine!

    1. Thanks Molly. I'm glad you like my wordplay efforts. I practice it in my daily life and my wife has now endured it for more than thirty years. I find it difficult to suppress the urge at times. Dad joke territory cross over me thinks...

  11. These are such fun! I love all the Shirley Hurely curly hurly burly rhymes!

    1. Thanks Liz. Glad you enjoyed the rhyme time.

  12. What a wonderful group of people poems. I actually used to work with someone named Shirley Hurley. She wasn't quite as fun as your Shirley Hurley :)

    1. Thank you Kimberly. It's good to know my Shirley is a sunny soul.

  13. Oh, I love these! Shirley and Norman and Rhonda are full of life! What a wonderful topic for poems. You always inspire us to work on something new. I'm off to write some people poems!

  14. So glad you like my people poems Linda. Each of us play a role in encouraging the exploration of new and exciting possibilities among our peers. I read, I learn and I experiment, while remaining ever grateful to you and others for the rich offerings that present themselves in this community of poets. A community of give and take when fertile ideas present.


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