- Vladimir Tismaneanu: What source do you use in your classroom to help students understand the events of 1989?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: How do you teach the letters found in Adam Michnik's book?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: How do you teach Adam Michnik's book in the classroom?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: How do you help your students interpret the passage you read about an independent, self-governing union?
- Bradley Abrams: How do you help students make sense of 1989?
- Bradley Abrams: What sources do you use to teach 1989?
- Bradley Abrams: What else is significant about the Declaration of the Creation of Charter 77?
- Bradley Abrams: How did the regime respond to Charter 77?
- Bradley Abrams: Why is the 28th of January remarkable?
- Bradley Abrams: How do you put the anti-Charter into context for students?
- Padraic Kenney: What is remarkable about the poem and the leaflet together?
- Padraic Kenney: How should students interpret the poem?
- Padraic Kenney: What is significant about the poem?
- Padraic Kenney: Does this poem help explain the strike?
- Padraic Kenney: How do you analyze the leaflet?
- Padraic Kenney: What is significant about the leaflet?
- Padraic Kenney: What sources help us understand the strikes?
- Maria Bucur: Is there a particular source that is important to study?
- Maria Bucur: How do students study 1989 in your classroom?
- Maria Bucur: What is difficult to understand about the "Common European Home" speech?
- Maria Bucur: What is important about Ceausescu's last speech?
- Maria Bucur: How do you help students understand Ceausescu's last speech?
- Maria Bucur: What is unique about viewing Ceausescu's last speech?
- Bradley Abrams: How do you use the Charter Declaration and the anti-Charter together with students?
Padraic Kenney: What is significant about the poem?
My first response was this is graphamania, somebody who just writes stuff. And during a strike, almost anything can get published and I don’t really need to pay attention to it. Poetry is not something I usually work with. It struck me as kind of dry and not really representing something and I wasn’t originally going to even really look at it. I just Xeroxed anything I could find that I knew I wouldn’t find anywhere else because this wasn’t in an archive; again this was in Solidarity office.
But then I began to try to think of it differently and imagined that worker writing these poems. I’m assuming he’s a worker, somebody who is in some way connected to the strike. And as I got a better sense of the strike by talking to people about it and hearing stories of it, hearing for example that the leader of that strike committed suicide a few years later. As everyone interpreted who told me about it, he had felt abandoned, he had put his life and his career on the line and had been sort of shunted to the side. His life had kind of fallen apart after the strike. Then I could go back and think more about the atmosphere around this poem and the atmosphere around this worker.
Thinking also about how a poem would be produced. This strike went on for 19 or 20 days, from the 16th of August to the third or fourth of September, getting smaller and smaller. At the beginning, most of the workers in the mine and then a dozen or 16 mines, at the largest, were on strike in the area. By the end, it’s just the July Manifesto Mine. It was just a hundred workers or so still on strike.
What do you do during a strike? Not very much. You sit. You talk. And you have time to write. And so you picture this worker sitting and composing these not particularly literary gems. They’re quite forced in their style; there are a lot of clichés in them and so on, lots of kind of empty rhetorical questions. It really brought me into the atmosphere of the strike as I came to understand it.