What is Poetic (Auto) Ethnography?

 The Forms of Poetry Writing Research

Poetic (Auto) Ethnography is research method that uses poetry to explore and present peoples' lived experience. A poetic ethnography and a poetic autoethnography are two slightly different poetry research writing methods. The main difference lies in the person responsible for the writing of the ethnographic poem and who is written about. In a poetic ethnography, a trained researcher elicits a life narrative from a participant and then, following a thematic analysis, organizes the described experiences in poetic form. The poetic transcript is shared with the participant and through a series of meeting a final agreed upon version of the poem is produced. In a poetic autoethnography, the poetry is written by the researcher themselves in relation to their own life experiences. These poems are discussed with informed others and the researcher explores the internal contradictions of their own understandings of self. In both cases, the poetry that is written comes from an extended, systematic exploration of the experiences, thoughts and feelings of the participant. The basic protocol of a poetic ethnography is as follows: 

1.Narrative Elicitation: A face to face interview was conducted.  The participant is asked to think, name and provide imagistic details on ten significant moments of their experiences.

2.Transcription, Thematic Organization and Poetic Rendition: The interview protocol is transcribed, analyzed for themes, images, events and emotions and rendered in poetic form. All the language in the poem are the direct words of the participant but it is organized by the researcher.

3.Member Checking and Poem Revision: At a second meeting the poem is read to the participant. Revisions are made and a final version is approved.

 For a more detailed description of poetry writing as a research method please click on the link below:

David Hanauer: Review of Poetic Research Writing