It gives me great pleasure on National Poetry Day to tell you about a very meaningful piece of poetry that I was involved with this week.
On Tuesday, I was invited to take part in Reconstructing Ourselves.
Here is a quote from their website to explain the project:-
Creating an Evaluative Dialogue with Ethnographic Poetics
Ethnographic Poet, Cheryl Beer, combines the skills of a participant observer and poet to collate dialogue that represents the thoughts and feelings fed back by event attendees, project participants and speakers at the Reconstructing Ourselves Symposium.
In creating a dialogue through immediate response poetics, we are enabled to integrally apply the arts in measuring itself.
Although the influence of the ethnographic poet cannot be divorced from the dialogue content chosen for the poetic structure, the poems created reflect the tone and emotion, sentiment and political view from recipients, rather than that of the poet. The ethnographic poet is a conduit.
The skill of the ethnographic poet is to hold the poetic framework as objectively as is possible within qualitative research, whilst acknowledging the presence of self, so as to capture the essence of the symposium dialogue.
Cheryl Beer has 35 years of experience within ethnographic poetics, applying this honed skill in many arts settings. For instance, she collated ethnographic poetics from 270 members of the public from across 7 counties, to write a collection of 30 songs for part of the research regarding the '21 Year Vision of the Arts' kindly funded by The Arts Council of Wales, Arts Connect and The Welsh Government.
More recently Cheryl's work has been part of an academic journey during her MA Drama, influenced by the research of Frances Rapport (2013) embedding ethnographic poetics firmly within the debate regarding the validity of such research as qualitative analysis.
At the Reconstructing Ourselves Symposium, Cheryl performed some of the dialogue as a spoken word poem in the morning and she engaged 7 attendees of the symposium to participate in a final sharing of music and ethnographic poetics in closing of the event.
Reference: Rapport. F. (2013) Fragments: Transcribing the Holocaust. Hafan Books. Swansea
So, as you can see, the application of ethnographic poetics in this context quite literally is part of an Arts & Science Movement that is changing the lives of women who have undergone or are undergoing breast reconstruction.
The very exciting news & so apt for National Poetry Day, is that the poems are now going to be made into one of the books within the exhibition showing at Morriston Hospital and you can arrange to go and visit and read them alongside all of the amazing life changing work.
If you would like to go to the exhibition, here's the link to the contact page of the website where you can get hold of Prue Thimbleby, the Arts in Health Co-ordinator: