Articulating Everyday Catastrophes: Reflections on the Research Literacies of Lorri Neilsen
Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Faculty
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science/Social Justice Research Centre
Lorri Neilsen, whose feature article appears in this edition of M/C Journal, is Professor of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Neilsen has been teaching and researching in literacy studies for more than four decades. She is internationally recognised as a poet and as an arts-based research methodologist specialising in lyric inquiry. In the latter half of this last decade she was appointed for a five year term to be the Poet Laureate for Nova Scotia. As an academic, she has published widely under the name of Lorri Neilsen; as a poet, she uses Lorri Neilsen Glenn. In this article I refer to her as Neilsen. This article reflects specifically on the poetics and the politics of the work of poet-scholar Lorri Neilsen. In doing so, it explores the theme of catastrophe in several senses. Firstly, it introduces the reader to the poetic articulations of the everyday catastrophes of grief and loss found in Neilsen’s recent work. Secondly, it uses Neilsen’s work on grief and loss to draw attention to a rarely recognised scholarly catastrophe: the catastrophe of the methodological divide between the humanities and the social sciences that runs the risk of creating, for the social sciences, a limiting and limited approach to research project design, knowledge production, and relationships between researchers and subjects, to which Lorri Neilsen’s ground-breaking use of lyric inquiry is a response. And thirdly, it alerts us to the need to fight to retain the arts and humanities within universities, in order to avoid a scholarly catastrophe of a different order.