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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Poetics of return : toward poetic imagination and peacebuilding Kramer, Christi


Toward a deeper understanding of poetic imagination, this poetic inquiry explores the creative process itself as a “wellspring that feeds the building of peace” (Lederach, 2005, p. 5). I position the study within the dialogic, as contemplative conversation, where utterance is a limitless continuum or whole (Bakhtin, 1986). I ask: Is it possible to write the world well? I listen to what poetry may say. I submit that “poetry witnesses us” (Milosz, 1983, p. 10) and that the gaze of poetry is courtesy (Lilburn, 1999). This study attends to poetic image as an essential attribute of the qualitative research methodology called poetic inquiry. Poetic image is whole (Al-Ghazali, 2010) and it is trace. It may be understood as a place or state: a space for radical meeting (Forché, 1993) of self and other; a multidimensional location (Zwicky, 2011) of potential and tension; a threshold, dihliz (Al-Ghazali in Moosa, 2005). Where poetic image is motion, it may be vertical and verb. Poetic image is not equal to metaphor (Bachelard, 1960). It exists in the sensory world, a doorway into our perception and memory, “enabling us to locate and embody the invisible and the unknown” (Kwasny, 2012, p. 2). It is generative, first of the creative imagination (Ibn Arabi in Corbin, 1998), and exists possibly prior to thought (Al-Ghazali, 2010; Bachelard, 1960). Poetic image may be known as direct ontology (Bachelard, 1960, p. xvi), a phenomenology of the soul (Bachelard, 1960, p. xx). Where both the poetic image and phenomenology require active participation and deny passivity or enslavement to object, in poetic image there may be liberation. Where “there is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance” (King, 1964), might research performed in humility be an act of reconciliation? Or might poetry, “a source of innocence full of revolutionary forces” directed at a world “my conscience cannot accept” (Elytis, as cited in Ivask, 1981), be the “kind of knowing” Simon seeks, which could support the “reconstruction of social imagination in the service of human freedom?” (Simon, 1992, p. 4).

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