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. 


  1. The session was wonderful. The time flew by and we all did want more time. This kind of analysis brings you so deeply into your data --it becomes all consuming. I too had many realizations and it brought me to a depth in my data I had not had previously. It was great to see your poem and to hear your reflections on it. I think both are key--it would be interesting to share the poems with the RAW artists (this would be a member check) to see if they agree that you have captured their ideas.

  2. Thought of you this weekend and I wish I had a voice recorder-I was in Salem with my husband's side of the family and the subject of Lynn came up. I was talking to Ellen, an old friend of the family about her job. She works at the hospital in Lynn-I asked her about it and she said (and her eyes opened bigger and her eyebrows were raised) "Well it's LYNN" and I played dumb-she said "there are a lot of immigrants" (continued)

  3. ..and she looked at us in a knowing way-then my husband chimed in-"You never know when someone's gonna come in with a knife in their back!" ..not a proud moment..

  4. oh, geez! ha.

    It's interesting, i am find a real range of reactions when i ask people about Lynn. it's really surprising. many people seem to genuinely be afraid of the community.