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The reflexive use of tanka poetry in domestic abuse research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-460
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Sep 2016


Domestic abuse research can be emotionally challenging, particularly for qualitative researchers who are immersed in sensitive and, sometimes distressing, participant stories. Reflexivity is essential in sensitive research; however, researchers typically focus their reflexive efforts on how their own perspectives may have influenced the data, rather than how they may have been personally affected by the stories they analyse. In this paper, I reflect on how using poetry in domestic abuse research can help to increase researchers? sensitivity to emotion, heighten their empathic responses to participants? stories and promote reflexivity. The use of poetry has gained popularity and various poetic forms have been used to collect, analyse and present qualitative data. Using examples from a recently completed study on domestic abuse, I show how tanka poems can be developed from existing qualitative data to draw together researcher and participant perspectives within the same poem. Originating in 7th century Japan, the tanka is a short, structured poem that conveys strong emotion and authentic voice. To date, tankas are under-utilised in poetic inquiry research and, in sharing my own reflections, I advocate tanka poetry as a creative way of engaging with qualitative data and a useful means of reflexivity in domestic abuse research.

    Research areas

  • domestic abuse, poetic inquiry, qualitative, reflexivity, empathy, sensitive research

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