Conducted between 2013 and 2016, this research project uses creative and digital verbatim methods in poetry in order to explore expressions of identity and ideas of community in existence during the 2011 riots in Birmingham. Located in this context, United We Stand is a poetry collection (and the creative outcome from my PhD thesis) that explores both individual and group experiences of the events that took place in Birmingham. As a series of verbatim poems, this collection draws on data extracted from 25 semi-structured, life-story interviews with participants who lived or worked in the city during these incidents. As a collection, United We Stand (alongside the thesis it is taken from) critiques Benedict Anderson’s model of the nation as an imagined community (1983; 1991; 2006) by providing evidence for the existence of shifting imagined communities across various geographical, social and cultural scales within the context of the riots. Not only do the poems within the collection demonstrate that digital, verbatim methods are suitable for (re)presenting expressions of identity and ideas of imagined community in this context, but the collection (as a whole) transforms the voice(s) of ordinary people in Birmingham and is a direct engagement with the same fluid and emergent imagined communities that the research argues existed. You can read some example drafts of the poems featured in United We Stand and see a little more about the project here.

Researcher: Sophie-Louise Hyde, Loughborough University