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Ethnic Diversity in Poems by Pat Mora, Chrystos and Naomi Shihab Nye

Ethnic Diversity

The issue of exile and the search for true identity is a significant topic in American culture. People with diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds live in one country and have to defend their traditions and worldview (Schilb et al. 78). For the authors such as Pat Mora, Chrystos, and Naomi Shihab Nye the question of identification in multinational society is crucial as they experienced the difficulties of cultural differences on their own. The issue of a journey is a philosophical question in their works as it is a process of searching for a path for their own identity in the community (Bouregbi 45). The purpose of this paper is to describe the perception of exile by the writers as a way to find the origins and to establish the link between personality and society.

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The authors raise a question of ethnic diversity in the USA that is often associated with being a stranger in a foreign community. In her poem, “Blood” Nye describes her concerns about a journey towards a place when one can feel like home; she investigates the borderers of self-identification. For example, the poetess starts her poem with the description of “true Arab” (Nye). However, according to the content of the work, there is no universal definition of nationality (Nye). The search for the origins and the position in the community that would be comfortable for a human is a long-lasting journey and a significant challenge.

Seeking an ethnic identity is possible to be considered not only in a philosophical way but in a materialistic and ordinary one. A similar position to Nye’s point of view can be observed in the poem “Legal Alien” by Pat Mora who writes her work using only one sentence. This way of organizing the text makes the reader feel like someone bares his soul (Gomm et al. 518). She creates an image of a typical legal alien whose purpose is to find a place that he or she could call “native land” (Mora). The topic of being a stranger correlates with an issue of a journey as a person has to overcome diverse challenging steps to find a location and position of comfort and safety.

The person who is not fully excepted in society is always trying to find a solution to this problem and to become a part of the community. Nevertheless, some factors do not depend on a human’s will. Both Mora and Nye maintain that origins and nationality play a crucial role in the attitude of people towards a human being (Yousif 31). The author of “Legal Alien” uses the alliteration “definitely different” to strengthen the effect of being “exotic”, not like others (Mora). Nye describes a similar situation of the impossibility of belonging to the group. It is important to mention that the poetess experienced it on her own as she had Palestrian, Arab and American origins (Bouregbi 44). It was a challenging task for her to find her own identity in a multicultural country like the USA. In this case, the journey may be also interpreted as a way to get back to oneself and a search for the identification that has its origins in cultural traditions and specific customs of parents and ancestors.

Traditions and their value for society are claimed to have only a positive impact on the development of the community. However, Chrystos, in her poem “Today Was a Today Was a Bad Day Like TB”, shows another consequence of cultural diversity. She describes the situation where the traditional values become the cause of destruction and aggressive behavior (Chrystos). Americans acted against Indian culture and practically destroyed it; the author expresses her opinion using several ways. Among the most important ones is the lack of attention to proper English grammar: she uses signs instead of words and makes mistakes in punctuation (Chrystos). It is possible to assume that by implementing these methods, Chrystos shows her protest against having the only true culture, system of rules, and traditions.

The role of ethnic identity in society is a significant issue for the authors exanimated in this paper. The journey in its philosophical context becomes a process of seeking the origins and, at the same, the attempt to correspond to the requirements of the community. Nevertheless, it is necessary to maintain that in the poems there is no solution to this problem suggested by the writers. On the opposite, a reader has an impression of the never-ending journey to the personal identity and unique perception of the world. The description of the stranger, alien, or Indians creates the impression that there is no opportunity to become a true part of an ethnic group in a multinational society.

Annotated Bibliography

Schilb, Ed John, and John Clifford. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Macmillan, 2018.

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In Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers, Schilb and Clifford explain how to evaluate diverse types of texts and to provide a structured and evidence-based analysis. The authors of the textbook show different methods of working with information sources and literature reviews. They also pay special attention to the necessity of conclusions and critical thinking. Classification of the literature work is among the crucial steps of the examination and requires an in-depth study of the related sources.

Yousif, Anan Alkass. “Naomi Shihab Nye: A Border-Crossing Voice.” Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture, vol. 8, no. 1, 2019, pp. 30–42.

According to Yousif’s article “Naomi Shihab Nye: A Border-Crossing Voice” in Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture, Naomi Shihab Nye loved the specificities of the mixed community. She wrote her poems based on her experience of cultural differences and her attitude towards them in society. The poetess also enjoyed investigating people’s diverse worldviews depending on their origins and nationalities.

Bouregbi, Salah. “The Nature of Exile in Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poems: Does She Remember the Land?” Annals of Philosophy, Social and Human Disciplines, vol. 2, no. 1,2018, pp. 41–58.

In the article “The Nature of Exile in Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poems: Does She Remember the Land?” published in Annals of Philosophy, Social and Human Disciplines magazine, Salah Bouregbi investigates the perception of American Arab poetess Naomi Shihab Nye of the events in Palestine. The author of this research claims that parents had a significant impact on the works of the writer. The conflict of the two cultures created a new identity of the poetess who considered the native lands of her mother and father as foreign countries. At the same time, she feels like a stranger in her host country – the USA. The issue of being a stranger is an essential part of her poems.

Gomm, Jeff et al. “Analysis of Latino Award-Winning Children’s Literature.” School Psychology International, vol. 38, no. 5, 2017, pp. 507–522.

According to Gomm, Health, and Mora’s article “Analysis of Latino Award-Winning children’s literature” in School Psychology International magazine, the quality of books that the young generation reads should be evaluated according to specific criteria. One of the authors of this academic work, Pat Mora, is a writer of children’s literature. She shares her attitude towards illustrations, the quality of language, and the number of complicated words in books of that type. Writers have to take into consideration the ethnic groups and cultural particularities of their audience to provide a high-qualified literature work.

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Works Cited

Bouregbi, Salah. “The Nature of Exile in Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poems: Does She Remember the Land?” Annals of Philosophy, Social and Human Disciplines, vol. 2, no. 1,2018, pp. 41–58.

Chrystos. “Today was a Bad Day Like TB.” American Queer, 2018, Web.

Gomm, Jeff et al. “Analysis of Latino Award-Winning Children’s Literature.” School Psychology International, vol. 38, no. 5, 2017, pp. 507–522.

Mora, Pet, “Legal Alien.” Hanksville, 2020. Web.

Nye, Naomi Shihab. “Blood.” Poetry Foundation, 2020. Web.

Schilb, Ed John, and John Clifford. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Macmillan, 2018.

Yousif, Anan Alkass. “Naomi Shihab Nye: A Border-Crossing Voice.” Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture, vol. 8, no. 1, 2019, pp. 30–42.

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StudyCorgi. "Ethnic Diversity in Poems by Pat Mora, Chrystos and Naomi Shihab Nye." January 28, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ethnic-diversity-in-poems-by-pat-mora-chrystos-and-naomi-shihab-nye/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Ethnic Diversity in Poems by Pat Mora, Chrystos and Naomi Shihab Nye." January 28, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/ethnic-diversity-in-poems-by-pat-mora-chrystos-and-naomi-shihab-nye/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Ethnic Diversity in Poems by Pat Mora, Chrystos and Naomi Shihab Nye'. 28 January.

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