Documentary poetry captures specific examples in history and illustrates these events in words, images, sound, video, and other media.
Poets often take a first person perspective of a person at the event or may act as observer and use a third person voice.
The poems record grief, lives, and honor voices of those who can no longer speaka nd often could not speak when alive.
Barrett Browning, Elizabeth. “The Cry of the Children.” 1844. Found online here:
Dawes, Kwame. “Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica.”
Jess, Tyehimba. “Syncopated Sonnets: TED Talk.”
Reznikoff, Charles. “Children 3”.
Rukeyser, Muriel. The Book of the Dead. 1938. Found online here:
Trethewey, Natasha. “Believer.” Congregation.
source: Heidi Renée Aijala
Knowledge by Natasha Tretheway (CW: Nude cadaver)
Much of Tretheway's work derives from images. Whether from pictures, documents, or memories these poems draw on snapshots of history. When you read the history of the image Tretheway used (CW:suicide, body image) the poem becomes more real.