2420 investigative poetics

Taeuber, K. E. & Taeuber, A. F. (1969) Negroes in
Cities: Residential Segregation and Neighborhood
Change. Atheneum, New York.
Yinger, J. (1995) Closed Doors, Opportunities Lost:
The Continuing Costs of Housing Discrimination.
Russell Sage Foundation, New York.

investigative poetics

Stephen Hartnett

In his Beat inflected manifesto, Investigative
Poetry, Edward Sanders (1976) argued that
the essence of investigative poetry is to create
lines of lyric beauty [that] descend from data
clusters, hence both seducing and empowering
readers with a melodic blizzard of data
fragments. As illustrated in America, his epic
collection of data fragment strewn poems,
Sanders (2000) hoped to merge poetry with the
pedagogical imperative to teach his readers their
national history and the political goal of empow
ering them to re enliven the great traditions of
activism and artistry celebrated in his poems. By
interweaving the emotional power of poetry
with the pedagogical power of historical scholar
ship and the political power of fighting for social
justice, Sanderss America embodies the theory
explored in his Investigative Poetry, thus provid
ing a model for writing layered, historically
dense, yet beautiful, political poems (Bernstein
1990; Monroe 1996; Hartnett & Engels 2005).
While Sanderss version of investigative
poetry is focused on US national history, other
practitioners of the art have sought to write in a
comparative, international mode. For example,
Carolyn Forches The Country Between Us
(1981) shuttles between the US and El Salvador,
where she was both witness to and participant in
the nasty wars launched by presidents Reagan
and Carter against supposed leftists. Peter Dale
Scotts Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror
(1988) fulfills a similar role, oscillating back and
forth between US political intrigue and the
CIA sponsored coup that brought Suharto to
power in Indonesia and that led in 1965 and
1966 to the killing of half a million alleged com
munists (Blum 1995). For both Forche and
Scott, witnesses propelled to chronicle terrible

as well. When new housing units are occupied,
the older vacated units become available, stimu
lating moves by members of different groups
into and out of established residential areas in
domino like fashion.
The IS model appears to have worked best
when a distinctive set of forces notably, per
vasive discrimination against an expanding
African American population made selected
neighborhoods in Midwestern and Northeast
ern cities vulnerable to dramatic white to black
transitions. In hindsight, the historical and
place specific nature of the model is apparent.
So are more fundamental shortcomings. To fully
comprehend how communities evolve, one must
be able to explain differences in the direction,
pace, and magnitude of change on several dimen
sions, including but not limited to racial ethnic
composition. An adequate explanation must also
incorporate causal factors operating at the social
psychological, household, institutional, and con
textual levels. In its most common form, IS fails
to satisfy these criteria.

SEE ALSO: Blockbusting; Chicago School;
Gentrification; Park, Robert E. and Burgess,
Ernest W.; Redlining; Restrictive Covenants;
Steering, Racial Real Estate; Urban Ecology


Duncan, O. D. & Duncan, B. (1957) The Negro
Population of Chicago: A Study of Residential Suc
cession. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Fasenfest, D., Booza, J., & Metzger, K. (2004)
Living Together: A New Look at Racial and Eth-
nic Integration in Metropolitan Neighborhoods,
1990 2000. Center on Urban and Metropolitan
Policy, Living Cities Census Series. Brookings Insti-
tution, Washington, DC.
Gotham, K. F. (2002) Beyond Invasion and Succes-
sion: School Segregation, Real Estate Blockbust-
ing, and the Political Economy of Neighborhood
Racial Transition. City and Community 1: 83 111.
Hartmann, D. J. (1993) Neighborhood Succession:
Theory and Patterns. In: Hutchison, R. (Ed.),
Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 3. JAI Press,
Greenwich, CT, pp. 59 81.
McKenzie, R. D. (1968) On Human Ecology: Selected
Writings. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Park, R. E. (1952) Human Communities: The City and
Human Ecology. Free Press, Glencoe, IL.