"The power of the poem": using poetic inquiry to explore trans-identities in Namibia

SOURCE: Arts & Health
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2020
TITLE AUTHOR(S): H.Van Rooyen, Z.Essack, A.Mahali, C.Groenewald, A.Solomons
KEYWORDS: IDENTITY, NAMIBIA, POEMS, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, TRANSGENDER, WOMEN
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED), Human and Social Capabilities (HSC), Impact Centre (IC), Impact Centre (PRESS), Impact Centre (CC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 11503
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/15384

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Abstract

Researchers exploring sensitive topics need to identify appropriate methodologies to encourage open expression. We used poetic inquiry to explore the lived realities of transwomen in Namibia, a socially marginalised group globally. We conducted two focus group discussions with 15 transwomen and developed found poems. The poems captured issues of identity and belonging and illustrated the transwomens journeys of self-acceptance, experiences of violence, rejection, agency and relationships. In order to enhance participant voice and enrich the poems, they were shared with some transwomen in a feedback and reflection session. This article unpacks this collaborative poetics approach. We share selected poems, explore their impact on participants, and discuss how this engagement with the poetry allowed for deeper discussion of participants experiences. The collaboration around the poems allowed researchers and participants to find new ways to explore and address issues of discrimination and marginalization, and to actively engage larger and more diverse audiences.