Monday, April 17, 2017

Stuart Rawlinson #4 - Culture Is Not A Folk Museum

Culture is not a folk museum
Not the dancing minorities
Nor the dazzling child acrobats
Not the things you're taught to be
Nor your reflection
Carved and set in jade

Culture is not a folk museum
Disembodied smiles force-feed
Strips of newspaper in vinegar
That bleach the senses and
Sour the palettes
We can't all be wrong

Culture is not a folk museum
It's the spit under your Converse shoe
The collapsed McDonald’s queue
Lies are only lies when you’re
Found out. Grand virtue
Slogans are peeling off walls

Culture is not a folk museum
Not moss-covered Buddhas
Or steel-skeleton temples
It's the words behind your voice
And the thoughts behind those
Propping up dead bones


  1. but isn't it somehow all these things too?

    1. I think to many, even most, people it is. But I always think culture is more about 'how' people live, rather than the scaffolding we often build our cultural identities on.
      For example, I remember when I lived in Korea people would often identify Tae Kwon Do as an important part of their culture - and it was easy to see why because anytime I walked down the street I would see Korean kids in their TKD going to practice - it is part of their everyday life especially when growing up. Then I went to China. Gong Fu, Gong Fu, Gong Fu. Yet in 13 years I think I met 2 people who practised it...
      So I suppose this poem is really just an attempt at getting under the superficiality of what people mean when we say 'my culture'.

  2. Collapsing queues everywhere...please! :)


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