Research Poetry and the Non-Representational
Keywords:non-representational theory, therapeutic space, creative practices, poetry as method
A call for cultural geographers to experiment with different ways of re-presencing their work has gained momentum in recent years (see DeLyser & Hawkins, 2014; Lorimer & Parr, 2014; Vannini, 2015). This climate of experimentation has seen a number of cultural geographers openly promote their interests in, and engagements with, the creative arts: some have explicitly developed practices in response to longer-standing geographical interests (e.g., Cresswell, 2013/2014; Gallagher, 2014; Gorman-Murray, 2014; Wylie, with Webster, 2014), while others have more established art practices that inform, and are informed by, their geographical work (e.g., Crouch, 2010; de Leeuw, 2012; Zebracki, n.d.). In this article, I explore the potential of poetry to animate accounts of geographical fieldwork via an intellectual engagement with the ideas and tenets of non-representational theory. I begin by outlining the history of ‘poetry as method’ in the social sciences and then acknowledge poetry’s status within phenomenology. From there, I consider what a post-structuralist account of geographical fieldwork might entail, drawing from Deleuzian philosophy. Then, using three conjoined poems of my own as a vehicle, I critically analyse the work that poems do as research as well as the ways in which they operate in literary terms.
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