The social nature of reading poetry: The case of reading haiku for content
Hong-Nguyen (Gwen) Nguyen 1 *
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1 University of Victoria, Faculty of Education, Canada
* Corresponding Author


It is commonly assumed that skills involved in reading poetry, such as decoding and assessing the poem, scanning for details arise in social relations with others, which makes reading social. However, this is social in a weak sense because these new accomplishments result from people working together. Using an alternative theoretical framework based on Vygotsky’s later work, in this paper I defend the strong social nature of reading poetry for content through an example of how students (K-4) read haiku, a Japanese form of poetry. I illustrate that this sense of social is not constructed in the minds of individuals in a social setting, but it refers to a relation—a visible and irreducible joint production that develops as transactional features of the organization of turns in the haiku reading event. I demonstrate how reading haiku transforms itself as a what-where-when poem in this community. Understanding that reading poetry is social in this sense, through and through, helps us recognize how this socio-cultural practice keeps (re)producing itself in different cultures. 



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