Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Poetic Inquiry

Our guest artist expert in class for the poetic inquiry group was Danielle Georges. I felt she gave an excellent, relatively comprehensive for the short time period, overview of the different types of poetry and its uses. Danielle also clearly explained the structure and composition of poetry and how it differs from prose. She's an excellent instructor who made the class engaging and interesting. While she did not answer our specific questions, it was an inspiring introduction that really took the fear out of writing poetry, at least for me, and that was worth so much. I wrote in my notebook, 'understand the nature of your tool', and I can't recall if that is something Danielle said or not, but it's a great way to explain the session. 

When it came time to hold our own session, I could tell that the class was eager to begin creating their own material. We had originally planned on leading 3 exercises... we could only fit one! "More time!" the class asked. I felt good knowing everyone was overflowing with ideas--- i'd love to hear what people think of the session weeks on and how it helped their writing, analysis, or research.

I found the session useful myself, and i created two good poems myself from data i collected at RAW artworks in Lynn. I gathered business cards from inside the art pieces done by high school aged kids in the program, with their own words on both sides. 

The first is a concrete found poem taken directly from the artists' quotes on the cards:

I then reflected on this and created a haiku that expressed the most true statements as they struck me:

grow up, build me up
particle in a dust storm
see me as a whole

In small groups we shared our poems with others and gathered their reactions. This is just as important as the creation of the poems, as the reactions to the data is data itself. here are some of the things they mentioned:

different angles/perspectives
carries powerful emotions
cries out
chaos/ cry from the chaos
pressure to 'grow up'
judged for that moment

What was most striking to me was how they picked up on this notion of inside/outside; a theme that RAW specifically discussed in one of their programs; in fact, i think a whole exhibit was called inside/outside. I was pleased they caught on to the idea of internal chaos that I wanted to convey.

Then again, how do I know what the artists at RAW meant to communicate on these cards? Would they think  my poems express the same? Perhaps not: when reflecting upon reflections, the original intent and images can get distorted over time.Also, the opinions of those doing the reflections begin to take an effect as well. It's not like a mirror reflecting a mirror and the images go on and on: then, the image is a perfect copy, never distorted or altered over time. This work isn't like that, the researcher, reader, reflector, the writer... they can't not help but project their own feelings as they respond to the data they collect. No one is ever a blank slate- a perfect mirror. 

My project is a self-reflective journey that I hope will help me develop methods of exposing my own opinions and processes so that I can record them as they change. If I am more aware of my own reflections, then I can track how my research changes me over time. In the future, I will be working in communities where I will have opinions, biases, and judgments: this is fact. If I can become aware of these, in a methodical way, and record them, I can better see how I change, or rather how the community changes me. Perhaps I can transfer these skills to observing changes in others as well. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Research Question, part deux

I've completely re-done my research topic from the original one. Of course, this means more work! But I really like my new topic, as it involves self reflection and challenging my own assumptions. Earlier I noted my struggle to dedicate time and energy to this work, and so this question is the perfect challenge for me right now. 

Self Reflection: Using poetic inquiry to examine my own impressions of the community of Lynn, MA

How can poetic inquiry illuminate our own preconceptions and understanding about a community as we research it?

I am doing my internship at Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project, which seeks to analyze, gather, and understand data about the impact of the arts in the lives of youth at risk. It is an off-shoot of RAW ARTworks in Lynn, MA. I realized that all I knew of Lynn was from what I heard from others, and I wanted to explore my preconceptions and be aware of them before I dive into this research to be sure that my own judgments do not cloud my analytic process.

Lisa asks: how will you track your own evolving perceptions?

This is the nut of the thing, really. How do I track it? This is what my internship is all about, too. Not only do I want to be focusing on my initial opinions and thoughts, and then my thoughts as I research and learn, but the evolution of this and most importantly how and why and record this in some way.

I need to research some more on this topic to get a better idea. I need to better understand the methods others have used so my work will be valid and more useful.

where I'm at...

I have to apologize for my inconsistent blogging. I have several posts I need to complete that have been gestating in my head for a while now, so hopefully I can begin to get them out.

I'm just totally exhausted lately. My job should take up 35 hours of my week, but it's taken more like 45. And it's taking everything out of me, psychologically. And I know I am not alone. My question to the class, if anyone has any answers, is how do you find the mental capability at the end of the day (if your work is like mine and rather unrelated to our field) to turn to this work with fresh eyes? I am struggling with this lately, and I'd love any guidance or advice. It sometimes begins feeling like this looming elephant in the room with me all the time; one I love and want to play with, but that demands attention and care that I find myself struggling to muster.

In the end, I am here at Lesley for this program and this work so I need to find a way to do both. I feel like a glass that is completely full, and as more is poured in, more of the old spills out. Does the glass ever grow, or does it just break eventually?

I also am reminded constantly how everyone, especially the communities I will someday work in, has got it rough. We're all overloaded. There's a quote that I can't quite remember, about remembering that the other person is running their own marathon, or something...regardless, appreciation and understanding is at the heart of what we do.

And with that, i'm on to my long overdue postings...