… it is the poet who plays with language, with interpretation, with imagery. It is in juxtaposition to this portrait of the poet, the poem, the poetic that I embrace the move toward a social poetic. Here we move rapidly from the interior of the poet or the particular poetic moment to the relational nexus from which all meaning emerges. No longer are we strapped with a view of the lonely poet or that difficult to capture moment we call poetic. Rather, we recognize that the “genius” of the poet and the ineffability of the poetic moment reside in the discursive resources that have been generated within relationships. Our resources emerge from our communities, from our negotiated ways of coordinating our actions within local moments.
Social poetics describes how participants in relation jointly create meaning and how, in that meaning, the seeds of transformative dialogue are sewn. Research, when viewed as a social poetic, also has the potential to invite transformative dialogue. This view of research, as relationally engaged, is dramatically different from our common understanding of the research process. Yet research is itself another form of conversation. And it is in conversation — in relationally engaged activity — that our worlds are circumscribed. The world can only be “imagined” in language; that is, in what we do together. To cast research as a poetic activity is to call attention to research as a conversation — one that is situated and relational and can therefore expand the array of possibilities — of images — for further forms of social life.