- What were your experiences of 1989?
- How have your ideas changed?
- How did you research 1989?
- Did your research lead to a new interpretation?
- Is there one moment that stands out for you personally?
- One crucial moment of 1989?
- What led to the Round Table Talks?
- What sources help us understand the strikes?
- What is significant about the leaflet?
- How do you analyze the leaflet?
- Does this poem help explain the strike?
- What is remarkable about the poem and the leaflet together?
- What is significant about the poem?
- How should students interpret the poem?
- How is Solidarity viewed today?
How should students interpret the poem?
Well, I can imagine that if I were to show this to students, that their first response would be “why I am reading bad poetry?” But I’d have to ask them to imagine who would be writing this and what kind of a person that would be.
Semi-educated miner in the south of Poland who is there at an important juncture in Polish history and in East European history is also someone we need to try to understand. We need to try to imagine what kind of a person he might be and look at the imagery and think about what things are important to him and understand him in that way.
When I use that poetry, it’s in direct contrast to the poetry from Gdansk. I also give them one song that I have translated from the Gdansk strike, a song that’s rather more confrontational but also quite funny. And so they do see the contrast between the two. That here they’re having a great time in Gdansk and here it’s really gloomy in the very optimistic story of 1989, you know, as it should be, and this is one of the few moments that runs counter to that, kind of a more gloomy thing. That’s something else that one can pick on.
How to Cite
Padraic Kenney, interview, "How should students interpret the poem?" Making the History of 1989, Item #595, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/595 (accessed February 12 2016, 5:22 pm).