Poetic-inductive movements in spatial anthropology
Poetry writing is something I have dabbled with on and off over the years. The motivations that have driven this are varied, and while these have not always been immediately discernable, the process has invariably been one I have valued and sought to channel towards other tasks at hand. One such example of this is where poetry writing - that is, the process itself rather than necessarily the delivery of a finished output (a poem) - has informed the production of ideas and research directions that have in turn led to the development of forms of academic writing (research outputs). This has not been a deliberate strategy, it is more accurate to say that where this has occured to date it has been by way of reflection after the event that the practice of poetry writing is recognised as having functioned as a form of method. This recognition has been something I have stumbled into and around but not yet sought to get a firmer handle on (if for no other reason than it hadn't occured to me that there was anything that I needed to get a firmer handle on - poetry writing is one thing, academic writing another, so why would there be reason to think that they might in any way be connected?)
My wishing to take further steps in this direction are, therefore, simply a means by which I am able to, yes, get a firmer handle on the creative mobilisation of ideas that begin, are incubated within, and are finally hatched from a poetics of practice. But also, and more importantly, to open up a space in which to critically reflect on the value of harnessing other forms of knowledge, or rather, of harnessing a critical sensibility whereby knowledge garnered through the rational and discursive precision of intellectual frameworks can be held in abeyance so as to make room for the fuzzy and impressionistic poetics of not knowing, in the instrumental sense at least. Where that more embodied, sensory, and dream-dredged poetics of not/knowing might take us is anybody's guess. But that is kind of the point.
Below are outlines of two recent academic articles that started out as a poem. When the respective poems (Lache Eyes and #48) were being written there was no awareness or intention that they would go on to furnish inspiration, ideas and material for what would become research outputs. Drawing and reflecting on these and other examples, and engaging with the rich and growing body of literature that, from different backgrounds and vantage points, explores the poetics of method and the possibilities of poetics as method, I am interested in further developing insights into what I am referring to as poetic-inductive methods, focused in particular around phenomenological approaches to space and place.
Finally, why poetic-inductive 'movements'? I originally headed this page with 'poetic-inductive methods', but movements strikes me as more appropropriate as it is less tainted by the assumed rigour, prescription or formalism that all too often accompanies discussion of method. I am very much guided here by philosopher Gaston Bachelard's work on the material imagination as explored in Air and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Movement. Commenting on the poems of Percy Shelley, Bachelard writes:
...poetry is a space - a vertically dynamized space which expands and invigorates everyone and everything in the direction of height. No one can enter it without becoming part of an upward movement, an ascension... poetic forms are a deposit left by imaginary motion. (1988 : 45, 59)
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