Poetic traditions and influences, aesthetic concerns, and definitions of what constitutes poetry differ, and often wildly so, demonstrating the quagmire of examining the idea of good and effective poetry. Tony Hoagland (2006) argued that “despite the usefulness of categories, in the blurry hybridities of aesthetic practice, many contemporary poems fall outside any designated bin” (p. 158). In a panel on relations among various contemporary poetries at the 2009 Associated Writers and Writing Program’s (AWP) annual conference, poet panelists described the difficulty (and importance and fun) of engaging the connections and disconnections among different poetic schools given the idea that schools represent such divergent aesthetics. What then is “good” poetry used as social research and what should it accomplish? What can a study of poetic craft tell us about the aesthetic/epistemic dialectic in
poetry as social research? What do poets and social researchers consider important to their craft? The poet Katherine Soniat (1997), for instance, wrote about her desire to translate and reinvent archival texts she was using as inspiration for her poetry “without using the source verbatim” (p. 259). “I was becoming aware that if I read too closely, if I took notes as conclusive blocks of information, this poetic endeavor was doomed to the coldly encyclopedic and nothing more” (Ibid.).