Teaching the “challenging texts” by means of play and creative writing. From avant-garde literature to digital verse

Submitted by: Karolina Wawer
Abstract: Teaching the reading and interpretation of poetry may be a challenge for L1 teacher on every level of education as poetry is often seen by children and teenagers as dull and incomprehensible. Different ways and methods to engage the students and to overcome that common attitude towards poetry are presented in the subject matter literature (Dymoke 2014, Janus-Sitarz 2016). Still there is a question left to pose – what to do with the literature which is opaque and puzzling by definition – the avant-garde literature? The question also arises in the case of Polish digital poetry (cyber poetry genre), which cultivates (by deconstruction, reinterpretation, remixes and remediation) the tradition of avant-garde writing.

In this paper I summarize the ongoing study on understanding and interpretation of digital poetry, conducted among the Polish philology students enrolled for the teacher’s programme. The aim of the study has been to describe the poetics of the digital verse, which takes into account the cybertext, code, algorithm, cooperation of man and machine (Bolter and Grusin 1999, Pawlicka 2017) and to prepare methods of reading and discovering it (we used visual collages and screenplays of the text-based game). The results so far has shown the increase of understanding and acceptance of hermetic and/or oblique poetics of the digital text if the reader was engaged into the process of interpretation by using the methods of multimodal rewriting: paraphrasing and transforming the original text. The goal of the presentation is to share good practices on working with the “challenging” poetry at school.

J. D. Bolter, R. Grusin, Remediation. Understanding New Media, MIT Press, Cambridge 1999.
S. Dymoke, ed., Making Poetry Happen. Transforming the Poetry Classroom, Bloomsbury Academic, London 2014.
A. Janus-Sitarz, ed., Twórcze praktyki polonistyczne, Universitas, Kraków 2016.
U. Pawlicka, Literatura cyfrowa. W stronę podejścia procesualnego, Katedra. Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Gdańsk 2017.

Keywords: teaching poetry, teaching challenging text, digital literature, creative writing