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Poetry as method – trying to see the world differently

Pahl, Kate and Hoult, Elizabeth and Mort, Helen and Rasool, Zanib (2020) Poetry as method – trying to see the world differently. Research for All. ISSN 2399-8121 (In Press)

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Abstract

Research with communities, even co-produced research with a commitment to social justice, can be limited by its expression in conventional disciplinary language and format. Vibrant, warm and sometimes complex encounters with community partners become contained through the gesture of representation. In this sense, ‘writing up’ can actually become a kind of slow violence towards participants, projects and ourselves. As a less conventional and containable form of expression, poetry offers an alternative to the power games of researching ‘on’ communities and writing it up. It is excessive in the sense that it goes beyond the cycles of reduction and representation, allowing the expression of subjective (and perhaps sometimes even contradictory) impressions from participants. In this co-written paper we explore poetry as a social research method through subjective testimony and in the light of our Connected Communities funded projects (‘Imagine’, Threads of Time and ‘Taking Yourself Seriously’ ) where poetry as method came to the fore as a way of hearing and representing voices differently.

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