investigative poetics 2423

Although attempts to define a genre are
doomed to failure and inevitably invite a cascade
of counter arguments, refutations, and modifi
cations, readings of Sanders, Forche, Scott,
Rothenberg, Snyder, and Brady suggest that
investigative poetry exhibits these characteristics:

An attempt to supplement poetic imagery
with evidence won through scholarly
research, with the hope that merging art
and archive makes our poetry more worldly
and our politics more personal.
An attempt to use reference matter not only
to support political arguments but also as a
tool to provide readers with additional
information and empowerment.
An attempt to problematize the self by
studying the complex interactions among
individuals and their political contexts,
hence witnessing both the fracturing of the
self and the deep implication of the author
in the cultural and political systems that he
or she examines.
An attempt to problematize politics by wit
nessing the ways social structures are embo
died as lived experience, hence adding to
political criticism ethnographic, phenomen
ological, and existential components.
An attempt to situate these questions about
self and society within larger historical nar
ratives, thereby offering poems that func
tion as genealogical critiques of power.
An attempt to produce poems that take a
multi perspectival approach, not by cele
brating or criticizing one or two voices but
by building a constellation of multiple
voices in conversation.
A deep faith in the power of commitment,
meaning that to write an investigative
poetry of witness the poet must put himself
or herself in harms way and function not
only as an observer of political crises but
also as a participant in them.

SEE ALSO: Anti War and Peace Move
ments; Autoethnography; Buddhism; Capital
ism; Class, Perceptions of; Class, Status, and
Power; Collective Trauma; Colonialism (Neo
colonialism); Crime, Corporate; Ethnography;
Personal is Political; Poetics, Social Science;
Time
REFERENCES AND SUGGESTED
READINGS
Bernstein, C. (Ed.) (1990) The Politics of Poetic Form:
Poetry and Public Policy. Roof, New York.
Blum, W. (1995) Killing Hope: US Military and CIA
Interventions since World War II. Common Cour-
age, Monroe, ME.
Brady, I. (2000) Anthropological Poetics. In: Denzin,
N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative
Research, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA,
pp. 949 79.
Brady, I. (2003) The Time at Darwins Reef: Poetic
Explorations in Anthropology and History. Alta
Mira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
Des Pres, T. (1986) Poetry and Politics. Tri Quar
terly 65: 17 29.
Forche, C. (1981) The Country Between Us. Peren-
nial, New York.
Hartnett, S. J. (1999) Four Meditations on the
Search for Grace Amidst Terror. Text and Perfor
mance Quarterly 19: 196 216.
Hartnett, S. J. (2003) Incarceration Nation: Investi
gative Prison Poems of Hope and Terror. Alta Mira
Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
Hartnett, S. J. (2006) You Are Fit for Something
Better: Communicating Hope in Anti-War Acti-
vism. In: Frey, L. (Ed.), Communication Activism.
Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.
Hartnett, S. J. & Engels, J. (2005) Aria in Time of
War: Investigative Poetry and the Politics of
Witnessing. In: Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.),
The Handbook of Qualitative Enquiry, 3rd edn.
Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 1043 67.
Jones, R. (Ed.) (1985) Poetry and Politics: An Anthol
ogy of Essays. Quill, New York.
Kaplan, B. A. (2006) Unwanted Beauty: Aesthetic
Pleasure in Holocaust Representation. University of
Illinois Press, Champaign.
Monroe, J. (Ed.) (1996) Poetry, Community, Move-
ment. Special issue of Diacritics 26(3 & 4).
Prattis, J. I. (Ed.) (1985) Reflections: The Anthropolo
gical Muse. American Anthropological Association,
Washington, DC.
Rothenberg, J. (1990) Ethnopoetics and Politics/The
Politics of Ethnopoetics. In: Bernstein, C. (Ed.),
The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Pol
icy. Roof, New York, pp. 1 22.
Rothenberg, J. & Rothenberg, D. (Eds.) (1983) Sym
posium of the Whole: A Range of Discourse Toward
an Ethnopoetics. University of California Press,
Berkeley.
Sanders, E. (1976) Investigative Poetry. City Lights,
San Francisco.
Sanders, E. (2000) America: A History in Verse. Vol.
1: 1900 1939. Black Sparrow, Santa Rosa, CA.