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Home  >  Narrative and Healing  >  Perspectives
Introduction to the Healing Stories Created with Poetic Transcription
By Sharyl Eve Toscano, Ph.D. Page 1 of 2   Next ยป


Sharyl Eve Toscano, Ph.D.

I spent several years as the faculty in residence of the Honors College's residence hall at the University of Vermont. The Honors College students might recall the pancake or chili feed nights in the dorm as the highlight of this program, but another night stands out in my memory.

I walked into the dorm lounge to find the room packed full of eager faces. My immediate thought was, “oh no, they thought this was the chili feed night." Instead, I had been asked to help facilitate a discussion on dating violence for one of the education seminars offered in the dorm. After speaking with the student organizers, it was decided to veer away from the group's standard presentation style and instead our advertisements invited students to the reading of a poem about dating violence. As a nurse who engages teens and young adults in conversations about relationships and dating, I found the experience that night particularly profound.

There was a palpable energy in the room as the poem was read. After the reading, there was an intense quiet. What followed was an explosion of observations, ideas, and reflections. The entire room continued to be actively engaged. No one left or even temporarily stepped out. This is how I discovered this novel approach to anticipatory guidance. The students brought up all the topics I would have included in a standard presentation, but with their own analysis and without any prompting beyond the poem. The power in the poem is the ability of poetic transcription to capture a lived experience and contribute to the healing process.

I composed this poetic transcription from one interviewee from a larger qualitative study aimed at describing adolescent dating relationships. The teenage girl’s words reflect common themes evident in violent relationships. In this process, the researcher begins with the interview transcript and follows with a chronologically ordered poetic representation of those data. The researcher creates a poem by eliminating and rearranging words. In the end, the poem is a representation or “third voice” that incorporates the interviewee and the researcher. Words, emotions, and the rhythm of speaking all interconnect in this process (Glesne, 1997). Poetic transcription is a focus on the essential story.  What follows is Trisha’s story.

About the Author: Dr. Sharyl Toscano is a UAA (University of Alaska Anchorage) nursing professor who introduces poetic transcription as a means to provide anticipatory guidance to teens and young adults.
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