Book review: Leaning: A Poetics of Personal Relations

Owton, Helen (2014). Book review: Leaning: A Poetics of Personal Relations. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 27(3) pp. 157–160.



This intriguing book, told from the heart to other hearts by Ronald Pelias, is part of a wider series entitled "Writing lives - ethnographic narratives" (Series editors: Bochner and Ellis). As part of this series, which aims to publish narrative representations that blur boundaries between humanities and social sciences, this book offers and autoethnographic, literary, poetic, artistic, multi-voiced, critical, and conversational representation that unfolds Pelias' critical reflections on personal relations. Initially, when I first turn the crisp pages, I hear echoes of Gergen's (2009) Relational Being in a way that bonds both writers, through pouring hearts, leaning toward an understanding of personal relations and a methodology of the heart (Pelias, 2004). But I do not draw comparisons here; I will try and "pull you in" to the complex and intricate world of Pelias just as he "pulls me in" to his world when he writes.

The book is divided into five parts: (i) language relationships; (ii) listening to myself and others; (iii) watching men; (iv) holding friends and lovers; and (v) carrying family. These are all aimed at constructing a critical ethnographic narrative to show a new way of being - leaning in to a way of being.

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