As Christmas arrives, a time of reflection for many on a holy birth, I ponder the way we as society attune at birth today. All human experiences are culturally and historically determined, including birth. Birth as with all other human experience and understanding is contextual. As Gadamer contends we are viewing and knowing the world from an inescapable effective historical consciousness. We are in a way continually walking into our past. I argue like others that birth is not purely physiological but enmeshed in its own unique context. Therefore to explore any phenomenon at birth is at once to address all of birth, past and present which at the same time is connected to future possibilities. There are constant hints from history that gesture towards birth as significant fusing with contemporary horizons of understanding and possible futures. That is to say that how we tune into, tune in or attune at birth reveals how birth is understood.
Using poetry in research and professional life as an academic in health care practice could be construed as professional suicide. Yet it is a medium that keeps me sane and allows something more deeply felt to filter through. I am in the process of writing an academic journal article about poetry use in research and thought I would air some of my early musings.
When I completed my PhD thesis the final chapter evolved around a final poem that emerged from participants words (see below). It was risky – however it paid off. That same poem on request from faculty management is now enlarged and lives proudly framed in front of the midwifery school in the faculty buildings. When presenting poems in conferences the audience is often left in a quiet place where I have to confirm to the chair and audience – “I’m finished” so the session can end. Unspoken experiential processes play in that moment.
But why poetry? Empirically reported evidence using prose alone is important and certainly has a place in our midwifery and natal world. Yet there is always more. Continue reading →