Performance Poetry as a Method to Understand Disability


  • Lee-Ann Fenge Bournemouth University
  • Caroline Hodges Bournemouth University
  • Wendy Cutts Bournemouth University



performative social science, youth, disability, seldom heard, performance poetry


The Seen but Seldom Heard project was a performative social science (PSS) project which used performance poetry to illuminate the experiences of young people with physical impairments. Two performance poets, a group of young people with physical impairments, and academics from social science and media/communication backgrounds worked together to explore various aspects of the lived experience of disability exploring issues associated with identity, stereotypes, stigma and representation. In this article, we will present an overview of the project and consider how PSS offers a method to engage seldom heard voices, and illustrate this through two poems which shed light on the lived experience of disability. The article will consider the impact of these poems as PSS, and how this method allows the audience to develop a deeper understanding of the "lived" experience of disability and to reflect upon their own understandings of disability and discrimination.



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Author Biographies

Lee-Ann Fenge, Bournemouth University

Lee-Ann FENGE, DProf (Doctor of Professional Practice), is Deputy Director for the National Centre for Post-qualifying Social Work at Bournemouth University. Her research interests include participatory methodologies, ageing and sexuality, and using arts-based methods with seldom-heard groups.

Caroline Hodges, Bournemouth University

Caroline HODGES, PhD, is principal academic in public relations in the Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University. She is concerned with the relationship between communication and culture. Her interests include using arts-based methods to offer "voice" to seldom-heard groups.

Wendy Cutts, Bournemouth University

Wendy CUTTS is a senior lecturer in community development in the Faculty of Health and Social Science, Bournemouth University. She is particularly interested in working with marginalized communities and groups and in using arts-based methodologies.




How to Cite

Fenge, L.-A., Hodges, C., & Cutts, W. (2016). Performance Poetry as a Method to Understand Disability. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(2).



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