Tuesday 10 August 2010

Poetry as Method

Sandra Faulkner's book Poetry as Method explores a range of issues relating to the use of poetry within social research, although her emphasis is on the potential for 'reporting' social research through verse. Her reasons for this include the ability of poetry to evoked emobided experiences and to manifest the complexity of the social world.

A sizable element of the book is concern with poetic craft and the study as poetry as a form, which Faulkner argues is essential for an researcher wanting to use poetry as a methodology. In one interesting passage she writes:

My interest in poetic craft was born out of frustration with some poetry published as academic research that seemed sloppy, ill-conceived, and unconsidered. Just because research poetry is published in academic journals, read at academic conferences, or merely labeled academic, does this mean there should not be a concomitant interest in poetic craft? (2009: 19)

If considering the reporting of research through poetry this is perhaps fair enough: poetric research needs to be good research and good poetry. However, when considering participant written poems this is potentially problematic, as it appear to devalue responses on literary grounds that are nothing to do with the integraty of the individuals response.

However, thinking about this project there is an element of this suggestion that participants' ekphrastic or literary responses to dance should be as 'good' - as crafted - as possible that I think is worth holding in mind. And that is that if we believe in the ability of poetry, or any form of creative writing, to communicate and embody thoughts, feels and ideas in a powerful and meaningful way then this ability is (obviously) enhanced when the writing is as good as it can be.

This is why the workshops and process that we are engaging in here is more than simply another form of focus group where the motivation is to gather responses that can then be analysed or sifted through for meaning. It is also why the often held methodological imperative not to influence or interfer with the way participants respond is being discarded. Instead the objective is to work with the participants and with their writing to craft and hone their responses and enable their deeper or more refined sensibilities to emerge.

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