News & events


01 October 2021

Call for abstracts: 8th International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry 2022

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

Intersectionality offers a framework for understanding how inequalities are experienced, often exponentially. Through this lens we can explore how diversities of race, class, gender, sexuality and others, can result in unfair exclusion and unearned inclusion, making lives (in)visible to ourselves, others and the community. COVID-willing, the 8th International Symposium of Poetic Inquiry (ISPI) will take place in person in Cape Town, South Africa – a vibrant, contradictory melting of pot of opportunities, wealth, space, people and ideas.    

Poetry – its ability to distil and inspire, to touch hearts and shift thinking, – practiced throughout history, in every culture and on every continent, provides a way to reflect on how some lives are buffered by privilege while many remain trapped in layers of need. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare these fault lines even further. 

Poetic inquiry is a growing field of qualitative arts-based inquiry that uses poetry as/in/for research. It combines poetry with research in innovative ways to produce meaningful, emotive and creative texts that represent lived experiences and engage wider and more varied audiences than those typically reached by conventional academic outputs. We look forward to your imaginative offerings that engage with poetry’s power of connectivity, political power, and evocation to explore new perspectives on intersectionality.

But a twang / doesn’t cover all your holes. / You can talk like them / move in their circles / buy their homes / drive their cars / but you still leave your family / coughing against pollution / dodging gangsters / running out of hankies / to wipe the kids’ / snotty noses. (Excerpt from poem by Heidi van Rooyen)

Please submit an abstract or proposal of no more than 250 words. This should be a clear description of what you aim to do that articulates how your offering engages with the theme and the field of poetic inquiry.  These offerings could include performances, panels, poetry readings, posters, workshops and interactive sessions across a variety of disciplinary contributions – from education, psychology, to anthropology, literary studies and medicine. To include as many voices as possible, we particularly encourage collaborative proposals. In addition to your proposal, please include a bio of no more than 50 words for each participant. 

ISPI 2022 will run over 4 days. We anticipate that the first day (24th May 2022) will be for more interactive sessions and workshops. We will conclude that day with a poetic  journey through the city of Cape Town that will introduce you to its histories, peoples and cultures and allow for reflection and writing. The formal conference will run from 25th – 27th May 2022. 

The conference is a collaborative effort between the Human Sciences Research Council, the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Durban University of Technology and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Proposals should be sent to no later than 8th November 2021. Confirmation of acceptance will be emailed by 1st December 2021. 

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)