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Vol. 1 No. 1: June 2020

Reflexive Poetry: A Researcher's Poetic Personal Narrative of Social Science Research Praxis

July 31, 2019


These four poems are excerpts from a multifaceted project entitled Queerly Faithful: A Queer-Poet Community Autoethnography on Identity and Belonging in Faith Communities. This project attempts to bolster and critique contemporary studies of queer and faith identities as they manifest in the lives of queer people of faith by approaching the subject with a queer sensibility (Holman Jones & Adams 2010: 204). One facet of this approach involved my use of poetry as a personal reflexive medium on the research process itself. The poems invite the reader into my experience as I wrestle with articulating methodology, theory framing, data presentation, and the questions and challenges of producing a fixed document to present the findings of a queer project that resists fixedness. By blurring the lines between poetry/narrative/storytelling and social science writing, I invite the readers “to become coparticipants, engaging the storyline morally, emotionally, aesthetically, and intellectually” (Ellis & Bochner 2000: 745). The poems, which are scattered throughout the research paper, nuance the traditional academic language and prose analysis in the paper and serve to challenge conceptions of ‘proper’ social science writing and position the writing itself as a method of inquiry (Prendergast, Leggo & Sameshima 2009; Richardson & St. Pierre 2005; Richardson 1993). The poems in isolation, as presented here, invite the reader to consider the strengths and challenges of social science research and articulate my struggle to honour the sacred stories of my participants through fixed language. The poems play with the questions: what does it mean to be a social justice researcher and how might our work, methodologically as well as topically, critique and undermine oppressive epistemologies that elevate and prioritize certain voices over others?