Bone Poems: Listening and Speaking from the Ground

Main Article Content

Cali Prince


As a practice-led researcher traversing the multiple worlds that exist between artists, communities and institutions, I turned to poetry to begin to speak the unspeakable; to retrieve the metaphorical bones of a story that were taken out. The bones of this story came through the voices of four women who lived and worked at a site located in Western Sydney. Their stories opened a crack in the findings of the research. Unexpectedly their stories interconnected. In an emergent process rather than a predetermined one, the poetic became a way to bring some of the fragmented ‘bones’ of this story to light. A multilayered participatory process of hand making relationship maps and poetry as the final layer of this experimental approach to ethnographic inquiry, resulted in the creation of what I call ‘bone maps’ and ‘bone poems’. They have created ‘ethnographic places’ which allow for deeper inquiry into the human side of the story, interwoven with the complexity of official and often perceived more factual accounts as presented across multiple institutional narratives. I found that ethnographically based poetry, informed by earlier sensory mapping processes could reveal what more linear approaches did not. This paper introduces ‘Bone Poems’, to reveal how this experimental approach reaches ways of knowing, through metaphor, in ways that other methods do not.

Article Details

How to Cite
PRINCE, Cali. Bone Poems: Listening and Speaking from the Ground. The Ethnographic Edge, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 77-117, nov. 2018. ISSN 2537-7426. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 jan. 2020. doi: