Poetic Inquiry


This project applies the processes of found poetry to the publicly available dataset of submissions to Australia’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and is one the first to treat policy submissions in this way: to transform often lengthy and detail-heavy written submissions into condensed, vivid and powerful poetry. While the Royal Commission submission transcripts detail deeply emotional accounts, the medium through which they are written and shared does not do justice to their stories, or offer the potential for broader community engagement in the same way that poetry does.

Although the submissions are in the public domain, the community would need to navigate a complex RC website and review 100s of pages of text to come into contact with their contents. Over the course of the 28 months between 8 October 2018 to 1 March 2021, the RC held 23 public hearings involving 641 witnesses, and received 10,574 public submissions.

This page includes a depository of poems produced for this project, which represent different perspectives including: aged care residents, their families, and the workforce, and use a combination of found poetry methods including erasure (also known as blackout) and concrete. 


Below are some information panels about the Poetic Inquiry for this study, which were developed for the ‘Time to Listen’ exhibition:


Visualising Poetry: Using collage & concrete poetry techniques to create visual found poetry

The following is a selection of found poetry created as part of a ‘pop-up’ found poetry workshop at the ‘Time to Listen’ exhibition. In this workshop, exhibition attendees were invited to create found poetry using a selection of words selected from three separate submissions (AWF.001.05431_0001, AWF.001.05520_0001, AWF.250.03492_0001) to the Royal Commission into Aged Care.


These words were collated on a single A4 page (right) for people to cut out and arrange into a poem, taking into consideration techniques of concrete poetry (otherwise known as ‘shape poetry’) in which the meaning of a poem is conveyed through visual means–often through the creation of patterns of shapes using words, letters, and other typographical devices, as depicted in I was/I am, which used two sides of the paper to demonstrate the changing perspective of someone before and after experiencing aged care services. We Need Voices, demonstrates the argument for needing diverse voices in conversations about aged care by scattering disparate perspectives and concepts around the core message.

I was/I am
We Need Voices













A variety of magazines were provided to allow people to draw on existing imagery to assist in conveying the meaning of their found poem. In some instances, these were presented as an assemblage of various imagery (also known as collage) as seen in I am not dementia, whereas some used a singular image (Theatrics is Not Enough).

I am not dementia
The System is Broken
Theatrics is Not Enough












While others were created using a combination of different techniques, including the use of illustration (Spend on Me & Systemic Failure creates regular Neglect), and also the use of tape as seen in the example above (The System is Broken) which demonstrates a fragmented and broken system through the use of a singular piece of paper, ripped apart, and held back together using the tape. In this example, the transparent quality of the tape is useful for symbolising the gaps in the system. This visual style is then applied to the words and images which each have been cut in half and held together, albeit still fragmented, by tape.

Spend on Me
Systemic Failure creates regular Neglect












Other examples: (click on image to expand)