Writing Workshop: Cultural Themes and Issues

Writing Workshop: Cultural Themes and Issues

In this writing workshop I am focusing on the creation of a body of work targeting a specific cultural issue, social justice issue or modern day theme.  

In creating, compiling and editing collections of philosophy, poetry, and prose, I find it helpful to create themes and mind maps in the drafting process. I contemplate the purpose of my writing, plan my presentation and consider my intended audience.

I take care to fuse multiple theme, relative images and metaphors associated with those themes. I also take those issues into the poignant and often, narrative depictions.  Place trust in the images you select. Be careful to not fall into the telling over the showing (with images and metaphors. An exceptional poem trusts the images and the metaphors to tell the story, in a condensed, sensory, ‘tight’ way, which differentiates the poetry from prose.

In the drafting process, I research the issue, form my viewpoints from a personal and philosophical perspective. Then, I write in first drafts during an initial few days. After letting the rough work ‘percolate’ for a few days I return to it for continued editing, revision and presentation. 

Rationale for Collection – an analysis (below) of this particular theme-based collection of poetry. 

Collection of Poetry (10) (listed below with links to poems) directed at a cultural, social, or modern day theme.

Essentials for Cultural Integration: a philosophy and analysis

Foundational to all my writing are my core values, world views, research and philosophies of life and mind. My poetry themed around the Essentials for Cultural Integration extends to sub themes including basic needs, individualism and diversity. 

In order to have healthy individuals and healthy groupings in society, six fundamental human needs are essential: basic needs including physiological, safety and security; psychological needs including belonging, love and esteem; self-actualization needs includes creativity, novelty through intellectual curiosity, and transcendence.

Building on Maslow’s model which was introduced as a hierarchy my list of basic human needs integrates physiology, psychology, and transcendence as requisite to form healthy human existence. The extent to which these needs are met impacts economic, ethical, and socio-cultural qualities of both the individual and cultural groupings.

Rather than viewing the growth in establishing these basic needs as a hierarchy, think of an overlapping, interconnecting system. This is a dynamic process shifting and growing over time and space.

on individualism, diversity and integration

For different cultures to effectively integrate, each group and individual must first have their fundamental human needs met. This intertwining process evolves most fluidly when the transformation takes place flexibly over a significant period of time, unique to each situation. 

Social, cultural, historical understandings bring to light unique patterns and precedents particular to individual groupings. As I research, great care is taken to respect the truth so I do not take all writing verbatim.

When I understand my own unique voice, core values and world views I am able to develop a better awareness of my place in today’s world. Interactions with situations and others then progresses in more meaningful, empathetic, genuine ways.

Inguz – “Ing-guz” 

Only when we know our solitude 
to be different from our loneliness 
can we be whole enough
to honour another’s place.

Literally: ‘Seed’ or ‘The god, Ing’ 

Esoteric: Process, space Rune of isolation or separation in order to create a space or place where the process of transformation into higher states of being can occur.

Conceptual cultural themes, such as those defined by M.E. Opler, suggest general motivations responsible a social group’s particular way of living. For example, the First Nations, Inuit and Metis are the three key groups of Indigenous, cultural groups of peoples in Canada. From the perspective of a conceptually based cultural theme or issue, each of these groupings would exhibit their own set of normative behaviours or activities. These are approved or openly promoted in an integrating way of life.

cultural competency

The understanding of cultural competency is essential for truth and reconciliation. Wikipedia defines cultural competency as the ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. This is further refined into four components:

1 ~ Awareness of one’s own cultural world view
2 ~ Attitude towards cultural differences
3 ~ Knowledge of different cultural practices and world views
4 ~ Cross-cultural skills

Cultural competency results in an ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures. This is done by not talking about people, but rather, talking with them.

We must learn to live together or perish together as fools. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

World Views

A worldview is a philosophy or way of life. A worldview can pertain to an individual, group or society. Overall, a worldview is a set of beliefs and values that are honoured and withheld by a number of people. A worldview includes how the person or group interacts with the worlds around them, including land, animals, and people.  (Teaching Treaties)

My undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of education, psychology, sociology and philosophy. I tend to underscore my writing with the abstractions of radical empathy, identity, core values and voice empowerment because these are of personal and philosophical importance.

Orenda 
a mystical force present
in all people that empowers them 
to affect the world
or to effect change in their own life

rapid cultural transformation

Currently, my writing is themed around anthropological research in these areas. This includes the ethnographic analysis of the rapid change in the milieu of our global communities.  Think of a time when we lived in small village communities. The strength of the individual was intertwined with the strength of the community. Strong individuals made strong communities but strong communities also enhanced individual strength.

Though the world is a different place today, the fundamental human needs still serve essential roles. They drive us to pursue individual and community survival and growth as a species because our own individual survival depends on the survival of others as well.

Expanding understanding and empathic support for plight of the Canadian Indigenous peoples has been part of my life since my childhood. My father’s social work resulted in us living in various northern communities across Canada. My passion moves me away from the social work realm and into the understanding through discussion, observation and research of cultural practices and beliefs without judgment or bias, hence with cultural relativity. 

History is complicated. There is no simple retelling of it because there are so many different perspectives. Acknowledging this a first step in truth and reconciliation. I choose not to reinforce old story-telling tropes about Indigenous Peoples or an other cultural group including my own in order to justify ‘civilizing’ themes of integration policies.

on ignorance and wisdom: two sides of the same coin

Socratic wisdom is also referred to as socratic ignorance.
We are wisest, paradoxically,
when we can honestly acknowledge and reflect on this statement:
I know only one thing and that is that I know nothing.

There is so much I don’t know but what I do know about me is that I want to listen carefully and best express my feelings about what I learn through my poetry and prose. The totem pole, for example, carries much indigenous importance in terms of artistry and documentation of rights, events, ancestors and lineage through creative expression.

I don’t own these events as having experienced them myself — I can only own my world views, core values and feelings. Writing through the genres of prose and poetry are my means of creative expressing my understandings and open intent to continue learning.

From an anthropological perspective, rituals, mythology and folklore are essential to understanding the roots of culture. It is most important to me that I am a strong advocate for the rights and comforts of individual groups and people. I then consider their plight in terms of integration into to global community and reflecting on this in my writing.

My belief is that integration only works with the allowance for a person or peoples freedom to maintain individual autonomy and identity. A sense of belonging can only happen with a connection to others which is based on respect for individual self and cultural identity. 

What we actually need is not a tensionless state (physical, psychological or social) but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of us….the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by you.
~Viktor Frankl

~ namasté, Leah J. 🕊

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