“My Papa’s Waltz” in Emojis

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Illustrating poetry with emojis is not an easy task. Take “My Papa’s Waltz” for example. This poem has multiple interpretations that have the ability to completely transform the meaning from a positive story about a boy spending time with his father, to a negative account of abuse suffered at the hands of an alcoholic parent. It is nearly impossible to convey the appropriate meaning of the story with tiny caricatures. The purpose of emojis is to add summary, humor, and embellishment, to short passages of uncomplicated text. Emojis pose a challenge to illustrating a poem because the caricatures themselves are very black and white, without a lot of room for interpretation. They are, quite simply, basic and frank depictions of gestures, people, and places that, even when strung together, form something almost undecipherable without context of the literature they are explaining. For “My Papa’s Waltz” I tried to choose symbols that would describe the poem accurately for my interpretation, but for an outsider looking at this work I think they would be confused. Overall it was a fun exercise, (I am now fully acquainted with the location of all 300+ emojis on my keyboard) and it challenged me to redefine the levels of usefulness that emojis truly have.

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