And here is my second attempt at bridging the three areas: poems, justice and data visualization. This time, it’s the Palestinian poet, Fadwa Tuqan, whose poems I have highlighted alongside some charts depicting the progress over the years on a number of women’s education indicators in the West Bank and Gaza.
(Earlier, I had used Audre Lorde and Muriel Rukeyser’s poems with gender data.)
One of the intentions of this exercise is to confound the categories: poetry and data. Of all things, it makes the least sense to compartmentalize poetry. Another thing I am attempting is calling out the patriarchal biases everywhere esp. when it comes to social justice where it again makes least sense. So in the case of poetry from Palestine, it is generally the males – esp. Mahmoud Darwish – who seem to stand in for all Palestinian poetry. The poems here by Fadwa Tuqan stand to correct this imbalance. Also, the indicators on women’s education in the West Bank and Gaza are quite encouraging.
I have long been entertaining the possibility of somehow tying together the three areas: poems, social justice and data visualization. It has been tricky, but here is my first attempt.
The 10 poems by Audre Lorde and Muriel Rukeyser (wellsprings of poetic sensibility) are intended to provide context for the accompanying data visualization on gender (using data from genderstats.un.org). This is intended in a tangential and somewhat disruptive way. Data for indicators in the development world is mostly presented in a cut and dried way. Add to that their lumping together in neat categories and the bobbing up and down of pretty graphs and charts, and you end up euphemizing the underlying reality. The technical brilliance on display then serves as spectacle. That of course does not take away from the fact that the underlying numbers have been painstakingly collected and systematically organized. And these numbers are pretty much the only authoritative ones that map the reality that social activists use to change the world.
Hence the poems as corrective.