Posted inCultures

The Blueprint, Issue No. 9 – Cultures

Illustration by Ben Beechener

The Blueprint is The Oxford Blue’s arts publication. It showcases creative work in a range of artistic media, providing a space to share thoughts, stories and personal experiences.

Issue No. 9- Cultures

Culture doesn’t make people. People make culture.

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I looked inside Nicolas Cage and I found a secret: People are random and pointless.

-Community, Season 5, Episode 2

In our first issue of the new academic year we will be celebrating ‘cultures’ to mark a change in name in The Oxford Blue’s culture section. Culture is more than just your country of origin; it’s about the books you read, the films you like, the family you grew up in. Culture is hard to define because you cannot point to it or capture it. Instead it is complicated and messy, just like us.

Ode to the Cosmonauts- Lily Down

Illustration by Emily Broughton

If I could meet you for the first time again, I would.

Stumbling conversation, the eternally repeated questions that have numbed our senses: where are you from, what A levels did you do, what subject are you studying? Southwest, north, east, forest, city. Smalltalk, desperation, god don’t leave me alone or I’ll cry. We go to my room. The moment we find something in common, the rainbow on the bulletin board and a quiet, me too.

The vows are sickness and health, but sometimes I am sick and you are sick of me, and sometimes I do not have it in me to take care of you, too. But sometimes you make me ramen for my birthday, and you sing musical numbers with me, and you talk about shows and books and movies. We speak in codes of queer subtext and puns, layers of in-jokes, and sometimes these are strong enough to shatter us.

I do not mean to sound romantic, but I do not know how to love you all any other way.

I want to tell you that I want you to dream of something bigger than yourself. I want you to reach out and grasp it, and take the hand that will help you get there. I want to tell you that no man is an island, that all of humanity is an archipelago, a forest with roots intertwining underground, holding each other up to keep the canopy green above. I want you to let yourself dream something grand tonight.

I want you to remember that you have earned the right to breathe, as we all have. I want you to tell me when you are sad. I want to know when your ankle hurts. I want you to live long enough to get a dog. I want to help pick its name.

I will not say this. So it’s another joke, another late-night conversation after everyone else has left the call, another freak-out on the group-chat about something only we care about. I have held so much love in my life. I can wait a little longer until I can give it back to you.

Driftwood- Alex Williamson

Illustration by Emily Broughton
I watch my city from the dead bod dockside, 

dangling its legs in the Humber as it waves me off 

Away from this mad tattoo on the weathermap 

Past the flooded school where I chased fish 

Past the amphibious shopping center, my first job 

Out into the sullen ocean 


Here I washed up like driftwood 

On strange new shingle, shifting beneath me 

And snorkelling around college corridors  

I realised what I most missed, 

Was a good fish and chip shop 

If images could contain me- Emily Broughton

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly
cultured, but I found it really enlightening to delve a bit deeper into the
things that make me who I am. It’s not simply that I have brown hair and brown
eyes, like the typical YA protagonist; it’s that I got them from my mother. It’s
not just that I’m English; it’s the parents who raised me with morals and
religion, with the drive to work and the passion to travel.

The bright images, those full of colour and
placed on top of a fleshy background, are the obvious, external parts of me; my
British, countryside exterior. But the monochrome images represent the parts of
me you only become acquainted with if you go deeper.


Wyt ti’n siarad Cymraeg?- Sophie Gwilt

Illustration by Emily Broughton

It’s a funny thing, being Welsh
                not really being able to speak it.
If you ask very nicely,
I might just be able to
        sputter porfor
or even pili pala,
        twist my eager-to-please tongue around
the vowel-scoured contours of
chwyrligwgan, or
the consonant studded sglodion.
And, on a good day, I can confidently pronounce
Dw’in hoffi coffi. Pendwmpian. Ychafi.
That’s. About. It.
                It’s even stranger
being told by an English stranger
        that “You’re not really Welsh.”
It’s not enough that I tick the box labelled “Welsh”
on important official forms
                                       - I don’t tick the right box
for people who want to box me into a label
based on the words I live in.
Surely, being Welsh
cannot be reduced
into the sounds that one emits,
boiled down into a thick sticky stew
of chewy aspirates, of gooey nasal mutations.
Welshness exists in the “green green grass”
And is inhaled with the crisp mountain air.
Welshness exists in the scales of a dragon
And in the neatly pleated leek.
Welshness exists in the folds of a daffodil
And in the welshcake’s sugared coat.
Welshness exists wherever it is felt
And it is a part of me.