Culture Smile – By June Perkins
I choose to speak in riddles.
The first time I wrote this post it had more overtly personal family stories in it, yet I backed away and thought I can’t write that post yet because I am grappling with a deeper question.
Which is truer, fact or fiction?
I have responsibilities to those I am going to write of, or be inspired to write characters for.
Do you remember the first time you learnt that history might be biased in the telling, that history told from the ‘victors’ point of view will usually portray them without critique? Growing up none of us wanted to be native Americans in cow boys and Indians, because they always died. That was the story around when I was a child.
Do you remember the first time you learnt of the enforced silences of cultures, women, countries, the disadvantaged, the non-canon,caused by the lack of publication or shared words, shared spaces to bring their stories into the open?
Do you ever worry about the authentic self? Who do I write as? Me? A narrator nothing like me? A narrator a little like me? A narrator who is an amalgam of all I know and can imagine and research as well. Are my stories real? Are they imagined? Will I stay in my comfort zone? Will I push beyond that and take you the reader with me? I am not traditional. I never can be?
I set about the story of fictionalising the real to approach a deeper emotional truth, to see the signifiers of my own life and of those in my life more universally and my story genre slips between real and not real, fiction, and non fiction. It is apparent that research is going to be needed to understand this story.
Is it as a simple as fact, non-fact? What do facts tell us? What is the deeper story? What are the secret stories? Are all tellers of tales true reliable? Why do they hide things? Do they demand of us change of names, and exact locations to ‘protect the guilty’?
Are there some stories I will never tell? How much disguise will I have to put on to ‘protect the innocent?’
This is more than theory, this is the story of second generation migrants, looking for home in heritage, space and story. This is the story of those whose new identity is made up of an environment where several languages are spoken at home, and sometimes there is no translator, Who want more than the simple definition of ‘she had to go home to understand,’ What is home?
Diaspora – it’s a long time since I thought about that word.
It’s the story of not knowing if you will ever decode the mysteries of those close to you who grew up in other languages, with other cultural codes, that you struggled to understand as you were encultured in their new homeland.
Dancing Culture – June Perkins
What are the dangers and perils of making a connection of becoming obligated? Will you think less of me if I never go into the birth land space, and why should that be so?
I am not confused, down-trodden, silent – I am seeking for the writing light, where I can present you the stories that have made me, and yet is that really me you might wonder?
They dance culture just for one night
my daughter accepted in
where I never felt welcome
why did I never feel that
and she smiles
as they dress her in the costumes
of culture they have reinvented
when they don’t have the right materials nearby
Is this copy real
All I know is I am happy for her
that she has a taste I was not given in this way
and is the making a journey to her bubu’s homeland
and yet I ask
Why did my mother never take us to her home?
Is she taking my daughter there now in the only
way she can
now her parents have passed on?
What is your idea of home or your authentic writing self?