The Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) is a once vibrant community that experienced socioeconomic decline through urban renewal polices and related factors. This article presents poems constructed from interviews with women who considered the Hill District to be their home. Interviews were completed as part of an undergraduate-level community-engaged learning course in collaboration with a local agency. One component of the course was a public reading, during which the poems were shared with members of the community and the University. The poems were created through use of the Listening Guide, a feminist relational method. These emotionally resonant poems, known as I poems, attend to the subjective experience of each participant by focusing on her use of “I” throughout the interview transcripts. While individual in nature, these poems are inseparable from the historical trauma the Hill District has experienced. Seen through the lens of root shock, interpersonal and intergenerational traumas are also the trauma of the Hill District. Poetic inquiry provides an avenue for connecting individual experience with the larger community story.


Poetic Inquiry, The Listening Guide, Community Based Research, Root Shock, the Listening Guide, community based research, root shock

Author Bio(s)

Lori E Koelsch is an associate professor of psychology at Duquesne University. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: koelschl@duq.edu.

Susan G Goldberg is a member of the doctoral faculty at Fielding Graduate University. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: sggoldberg@fielding.edu.

Elizabeth Bennett is an assistant professor of psychology at Point Park University. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to +1 (412) 392-3486.

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