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Research Poetry

Get ready for World Poetry Day on March 21 and U.S. National Poetry Month in April


Born a poem of babble, coo, lallation,

we lost the way in plodding, prosaic texts—

sibilance silenced,

joy abjured,

expression extinguished.

If “research is formalized curiosity. …poking and prying with a purpose” (Zora Neale Hurston)and “poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary (Khalil Gibran) then research poetry is poking “around at, with, and through” (Lahman et al., p.3 9,) the joy, pain, and wonder of life and death.

Transcription Poetry is the primary form researchers create by listening closely to interview transcripts for pauses, rise and fall in the sound of speech, emphasis, and editing out unessential words—creating line breaks, punctuation, and a distilled essence of experience.

Researchers now, dwelling in a world of words—

confidences, utterances, wisdom,

we become poetry anew—

straining ear, sinew,

heart to hear

the cadence of life and death.

We need to create safe spaces for researchers to explore poemish research creations. Spaces where research poets who are reading poetry, sharing poetry with others for feedback and revision, are free to create good enough research poetry.

Dying in a dirge of lamentation

we may live forever through

poetry of research,

speaking the dead and

memory of elegy.

Toward this goal explore one of the following as part of a journey with research poetry.

• Sign up for a poem a day to be sent to your inbox. For novices my preference is


• Read a ‘poem a day’ book, such as Poem a Day, A Poem for Every Day of the Year, or A

Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year.

• Read the chapter on research poetry in my qualitative writing book (Lahman, 2022).

• Read Furman’s (2006) groundbreaking article on formed research poetry and Johns’

(2017) exemplar. This is a challenge to take after becoming comfortable with

transcription research poetry.

• Place a piece of transcription poetry, or several, in a longer research manuscript or



Furman, R. (2006). Poetic forms and structures in qualitative health research. Qualitative health research, 16(4), 560-566.

Johns, R. D. (2017). A spiritual question. Qualitative Inquiry, 23(8), 631-638.

Lahman, M. K. E., Geist, M. R., Rodriguez, K. L., Graglia, P. E., Richard, V. M., & Schendel, R. K. (2010). Poking around poetically: Research, poetry, and trustworthiness. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(1), 39–48.

Lahman, M. K. E. (2022). Writing and representing qualitative research. Sage.

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