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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Poetry: Imagining good research

Collaborative Methodology

The traditional research interview

Of you by me

Seems hierarchical in nature

Therefore I will strive to be

Collaboratively creative

Flowing, pausing, ideas converge

Mutuality, difference, engagements


Into thoughts, into words,

Spoken and heard

New forms of knowledge emerging

Representation, negotiation

Imagining live sociology

Interactive conversation, risks and innovation

Collaborative methodology

Poetic Methods

There is a growing interest in the use of creative, or arts-based methods within social research that is opening a space outside of the boundaries of traditional methods of data gathering; a space that improves the ‘critical attentiveness, collaboration and experimentation’ (Back & Puwar, 2012 p.18) of both data gathering and dissemination of analysis. Outlining the possibilities for imagining research differently, Les back calls for a rethinking of sociology that pays attention to the ‘fleeting, distributed, multiple and sensory aspects of sociality (ibid, p.26).
In a framework of private public dichotomies, where women’s charitable, community work and temporal experiences could be suggested to still circulate around the private – even when concerned with the public, poetry can allow those personal experiences, spoken by women themselves, to reveal the purposeful, public nature of their work, while also reflecting the overlapping multiplicities of time connected to the home. 

Coffey & Atkinson recommend researchers to try new approaches, stating that “there is much to be gained from trying out different analytic perspectives…...New insights can be generated….. that may help to reveal different facets of the data” (1996 p13,15 in Edwards & Weller, 2012 p.203). To highlight the varying ontologies of self through a combination of data analysis (Edwards & Weller, 2012), poetry  workshops, and narrative poetry  (Richardson, 1997),  including I-Poetry methods  will also be used to supplement interview and diary methods - and to show these methods as complementary (Edwards & Weller, 2012).

These methods offer not only an alternative way of presenting the same information (as perhaps that gathered solely through interviews), rather, they can help the researcher find hidden significance and ‘act on’ the emerging data, re-vitalise the research, and make the findings public in a way that allows the audience to access the data differently (Back & Puwar, 2012). While Piirto  ( 2002) argues against (non-artistic) researchers becoming fanciful in thought of using poetic (or other artistic) representation, and suggests these methods should be left to those specifically trained, as an artist who uses poetry within her own practice, and in previous research projects, it is my belief that these methods will allow  findings to be represented in ways  that gives additional impact to data, and a resonance to silenced voices: seeking to reveal the diversity of people, emphasising the complexities of lived experiences,  allowing voices to be heard, and “captur[ing] the essence of the how, they why, the what  (Carroll, Dew, & Howden-Chapman, 2011 p.624)

Back, L., & Puwar, N. (2012). Live Methods. (L. Back & N. Puwar, Eds.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Beebeejaun, Y., & Grimshaw, L. (2010). Is the “New Deal for Communities” a New Deal for Equality? Getting Women on Board in Neighbourhood Governance. Urban Studies, 1(15). Retrieved from

Carroll, P., Dew, K., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2011). The Heart of the Matter: Using Poetry as a Method of Ethnographic Inquiry to Represent and Present Experiences of the Informally Housed in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(7), 623–630.

Coffey, A., & Atkinson, P. (1996). Making Sense of Qualitative Data: Complementary Research Strategies. London: Sage.

Edwards, R., & Weller, S. (2012). Shifting analytic ontology: using I-poems in qualitative longitudinal research. Qualitative Research, 12(2), 202–217.

Grimshaw, L. (2011). Community work as women’s work? The gendering of English neighbourhood partnerships. Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal, 46(3), 327–340.

Imagine. (2015). Imagine: Connecting Communities Through research. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from

Piirto, J. (2002). The question of quality and qualifications: Writing inferior poems as qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 15(4), 431–445.

Richardson, L. (1997). Skirting a Pleated Text: De-disciplining an Academic Life. Qualitative Inquiry, 3, 295–304.