Poetry as Inquiry

Using Poetry to Explore the Currere of Prison Experience

  • Ann Christella Bracken Contributing Editor, Little Patuxent Review
Keywords: Poetry, Inquiry, Mass Incarceration


This article explores the author's experiences and the resultant learning from her time volunteering in a few Maryland prisons.  The author gives her backstory of how she came to volunteer in a prison writing group and discusses how her attitudes about incarcerated people changed. She explains the use of poetry as a tool of inquiry and then gives examples of three qualities of poetry that make it the ideal tool for collecting her data. The author also includes examples of the men’s own words from interviews about how the prison experience has changed their lives and offers examples of her own poems to illustrate the three qualities of poetry she explores.