Beyond Disciplines: Spoken Word as Participatory Arts-based Research

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For many, the arts and sciences stand at opposite ends of an unbridgeable divide: the sciences, rigid, objective, systematic and authoritative; the arts, fluid, subjective, dynamic and capricious. Yet, there is a long history of productive dialogue and interconnection between these fields. Arts-based research represents a particularly fertile form of arts/science interaction. This paper interweaves poetry, theoretical discussion and empirical research to make the case for spoken word poetry as an arts-based method of inquiry that can provide a radically different way of doing, being and collaborating in and through research. With reference to the innovative method of ‘collaborative poetics’ and to the work of youth slam/spoken word educators, I argue that social scientists and spoken word practitioners can learn much from one another’s tools, techniques and ways of thinking, creating new forms of knowledge, redefining the audience/author relationship, and facilitating a ‘critical resilience’ which enables both individual fortitude in the face of adversity and a means through which to challenge the conditions that give rise to this adversity. The paper thus considers how spoken word as participatory poetic inquiry enables participants, researchers and poets to address the critical complexities and challenges of contemporary life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-380
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Review of Qualitative Inquiry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2021


  • Arts-based research
  • critical resilience
  • poetic inquiry
  • autoethnography
  • spoken word


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