Two to Tanka: poetry as a duoethnographic method for exploring sensitive topics

Jenna P. Breckenridge (Lead / Corresponding author), Maria T. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Duoethnography is a method of dialogical reflection that combines different voices and juxtaposing worldviews in order to glean fresh perspectives on wider social or professional issues. In this paper we use poetry to support an inter-professional duoethnographic exploration of sensitive issues in nursing and healthcare. Using a method of linked tanka poetry, we bring together perspectives from our respective work in nursing and occupational therapy to explore the sensitive issues of loss, death, dementia, cultural conflict and trauma. We demonstrate collaborative poetry writing as a novel, useful approach in duoethnography, demonstrating how tanka poems – short, structured poems originating from 7th-century Japan – are effective in supporting reflexive dialogue. Drawing on theoretical underpinnings and practical experience, we highlight the opportunities and challenges of using tanka poetry to facilitate collaborative discussion and problem-solving. We highlight how tanka could support difficult conversations between practitioners, researchers, service users, educators and students through its succinct immediacy. Moreover, by showcasing the use of collaborative poetry writing as a method of inquiry, this paper offers a novel methodological contribution to the broader area of qualitative research for education, research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-462
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Nursing
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • collaboration
  • duoethnography
  • methodology
  • poetic inquiry
  • reflexivity
  • sensitive issues

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