The Radio Feature form and Documentary Poetry: Does poetry offer a documentary framework for thinking about the playful treatment of source material in contemporary non-fiction radio/podcast works?
Radio feature conventions that allow for the playful treatment of source material have received little scholarly attention despite being utilised in contemporary audio works. There are artistic and journalistic tensions inherent in a form that allows scenes to be constructed, and where the changes and edits are not always audible. In documentary poetry there is similar creative use of source material, and this is only made visible on the page by choice. Yet there is documentary intent related to the very documents being turned into poetry. This research project asks: How do poets, scholars and critics think about this same issue in documentary poetry? How is this form understood as documentary? It explores the wealth of critical and scholarly discourse afforded to the literary genre, focusing on the definitional debates and the discussion of non-fiction representation in creative works. It finds a useful framework in an expanded theory of documentary that draws on the double definition of the word: the act of documenting; and the use of documents. Thinking about the documentary/ political intent of a work, considerations for documentary authenticity, and the managing of audience expectations for the playful treatment of source material, guides the analysis of three radio feature/ crafted audio texts.