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Even when we use participants’ words, we as researchers, craft and (re)present those words in the dissemination of the research. Laurel Richardson terms this “staging”. She writes “when we write social science, we use our authority and privileges to talk about the people we study. No matter how we stage the text, we–the authors–are doing the staging” (1992: 131). Decisions surrounding how we stage the text are our responsibility. Researcher decisions, about the crafting of research poems, are therefore deliberate and intentional for the purpose of communicating our research in certain ways. On what basis do we make decisions in crafting research poetry and how are they linked to our analyses? One of the reasons a researcher determines to use research poetry is to seek to engage the “listener’ s body” and make an empathic connection to research participants (Richardson, 1993: 705). In this article, I present a scheme from Chinese brush painting, as one possible way to guide decisions in the crafting of poetic participant ‘portraits’ illustrated using a study involving school principals.