Reflections: “We were all poets, if only for a moment”

a bunch of words written in black font against a white background

Featured image above: “magnetic poetry” by surrealmuse is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Mariane Gallet


The ‘Doing Feminist Research’ workshop, funded by SGSSS-SGSAH and organised by genderED and Strathclyde University Feminist Research Network (SUFRN), was a three-day event at the start of May 2022. In this blog I focus on two sessions from the workshop that left a lasting imprint on me: Ashlee Christoffersen and Katucha Bento’s session on intersectionality and Rebecca Hewer’s session on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Apart from the specialised training they offered, they emphasized the value of intersectional dialogue and creativity in doing feminist research.  

A key highlight of Katucha and Ashlee’s session was that intersectionality must not be tokenistic. It must be insisted into existence (Sharpe 2016), insisted into academic practice and research. It must indeed inform our practice, make us re-think our modes of production and giving back. Intersectionality requires that we reframe research as being in service of and respecting the communities we approach. It requires us to challenge the hegemonic ‘order’ of academia and our own positionality as researchers. Amidst debates about future employment prospects for early career researchers, this session was a useful reminder of how our passion for research can be dislodged from the ongoing neoliberal tendencies within academe.  

Katucha and Ashlee’s session ended with a moving performative enactment of our discussions on research practice and ethics through a ‘long table’ discussion.  

This ‘long table’ discussion embodied the possibility of troubling hierarchical ideas of ‘centre and margin’, ‘authoritative researcher’ and ‘objectified subject’, and offered an un-mediated collaborative safe-space for intersectional dialogue.

words written on paper with markers
Image: Long Table Discussion

Rebecca’s session (peppered with striking one-liners) on CDA focused on epistemic conditioning and hegemonic forms of discourse (de)legitimizing rhetorical and institutional narratives. Feminist CDA (CDA “with a feminist flair”) was discussed as a distinct methodology emphasizing dialectic relationships and elucidating the evasiveness of heuristic injustices (“sexism is sneaky”). Using Ohito and Nyachae (2019)’s ‘found poetry’, Rebecca proposed alternative forms of presentation and analysis of data. She elaborated on the emancipatory power of poetry and the general ability of the lyrical to emphasise the attentiveness of language to draw out relations of power and highlight them. She noted that it is particularly productive to reflect critically on the creative power of language but at the same time its limitations insofar as it naturalises and frames our understanding of our realities within limited categories. 

Poetry indeed has this function, trading in craft and figurative language, which generates a particularly fertile ground for the discussion of the stability of language, and semiotics. Expanding on the principle of ‘found poetry’, Rebecca proposed an individual activity to conclude the session: to either construct a poem, or write a parodic review based on two policy texts –  ‘Tackling the Demand for Prostitution” and “Two-Child Limit Impact Assessment”. 

While I have never written any poetry, the blatant dehumanization in the policy’s treatment of “prostitution” urged me to write my very first poem. Upon reflection, the copious amounts of poetry I have consumed as my own research has evolved from my undergraduate thesis to my PhD seems to manifest itself in my poem. I must admit that my relationship to poetry and to writing, more generally, has been complicated. I love poetry. I love reading it. But I have never felt comfortable writing or analysing it. Of course, there were the inescapable undergraduate assignments on poetry but I haven’t thought of myself as a poet.  

So writing that poem in the workshop session felt like a daunting task. I soon found out that I was not the only one feeling this way. Indeed, before reading their composition, some felt the need to have a disclaimer: “I am not a poet”. Yet, on that day, we were all poets, if only for a moment! 

a page with words on it
Image: Mariane's Poem


[1] Ohito, Esther O., and Tiffany M. Nyachae. “Poetically Poking at Language and Power: Using Black Feminist Poetry to Conduct Rigorous Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis.” Qualitative Inquiry, vol. 25, no. 9-10, SAGE Publications, 2019, pp. 839–50,

[2] Sharpe, Christina Elizabeth. In the Wake: on Blackness and Being. Duke University Press, 2016.

Author’s bio

Mariane Gallet is a first-year PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. She holds an MAHonours degree in Linguistics and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh (2020), and a Masters, with Distinction, in American Modern Literature from the University of Glasgow (2021).

Her PhD research project extends research undertaken in both her undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Examining contemporary artistic modes and methods of artistic resistance to architectures of institutional racism, toward introducing a genealogy of literatures of resistance, her project seeks to refocus and amplify multimodal works by African American practitioners, from the 1920s Harlem Renaissance to contemporary BLM movement.

You can tweet her @mariane_gallet