ISPI: 7th International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open.”
From “Käthe Kollwitz,” by Muriel Rukeyser

Central to most of our collaborative projects has been an arts-based qualitative research methodology called poetic inquiry. Poetic inquiry is the creation and use of poetry (whether found or specially written) as a research tool, or as a method of sharing research findings. Because poetry combines musicality, precision, and multileveled implication, it offers a rich and textured way to engage people in sharing complex experiences, and provides researchers with a similarly rich and textured medium by which to share what they learn.

Every two years since 2007, a small but growing interdisciplinary community of scholars who use poetic inquiry in their research has been meeting to share their poetic-inquiry-based studies, along with their insights into poetic inquiry as a methodology. We have been privileged to be part of the two most recent symposia, and have been invited to present our current inquiries at the Seventh International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry in Halifax, Nova Scotia this October.

This year, in addition to collaborative work, we will each present a separate view of our common research question: what does it mean when two progressive white women who have devoted much of their careers to the idea of social justice move to the rural counties where, 14 generations ago, English settlers first lived beside the indigenous inhabitants of what is now coastal North Carolina; and where the geography of the Outer Banks kept the slave ships away but gave enslaved people brought from other ports a different but no less harsh and arbitrary existence. Suzanne’s poetic inquiry is called An Unsettling Exploration of a White Settler Community; Lynne’s is called Kleptolalia: Uneasy Meditations on Innumerable Thefts.

Ogilby Map of Carolina, 1671

After our presentations in Halifax, we hope to bring our work to our local communities in Currituck and Dare Counties, North Carolina.

The call for papers for the October symposium is closed, but we have attached it below so you can get a sense of what the symposium is all about. ISPI also has a Facebook group; find it by searching for “International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry.” If you are interested in attending the Symposium, registration for non-presenters is available until May 1. Space is limited, so please register early at

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