Tag: indigenous literature


by Jessica White ‘One can never fault a Brisbane winter,’ I smugly tell my friends in the south. The air is mild, the light golden, and one only needs a jumper in the evenings. Come summer, though, it’s a different story. I’m far from smug when I’m lying on the couch before a fan blowing hot air into my face. I’ve never lived in a home with air-conditioning and neither do I want to; I resent the sense of being boxed in. On oppressive days I usually go to public places such as a pub or the State Library, but…

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The Australian Neo-Avant-Garde: Beginnings, 1973-1992

by A.J. Carruthers   It is imperative that studies of the neo-avant-garde in Australia, and I think avant-garde studies in general, strike a balance between theory and history. One cannot just have a history of the avant-garde: a slew of good examples without a theory of what it is that makes these examples avant-garde (and in poetry, to catalogue an exhibit of key works without interrogating their poetics and aesthetics). Neither can one simply have a theory of the avant-garde that doesn’t take into account its specific histories, especially transcultural avant-gardes, those outside centres of cultural influence, those that cross…

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Talking about: talking about

by Alison Whittaker   ‘In conversation’ is the lie I tell myself to get to a venue where I’ll talk about writing.   Harmless little chat. It’s a harmless little chat.   Here’s the real harmless little chat, twenty minutes before: From there, a writerly discussion event is just projecting some tight-packed, thought-out writerly version of myself at someone else and a smattering of people who watch on.   I think: ‘Don’t look at them. Probably shouldn’t look at them.’ I also think: ‘Chin up, gut in. Surely you know what you’re talking about.’ I think: ‘On brand.’ When was…

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by Alison Whittaker Wangal land, in the memory of colonial records at least, has never been hotter. Today while I write, its sky is some thick full-handed slap of cyan on an unwilling canvas. Every new humid day that it’s like this, I’m reminded that we’re heading towards some new series of precipices even as we cross the last. Sitting in this office chair, lazily sweating and glowering at a close and motionless tree, there’s the tug of momentum under my pelvis. We’re rapidly headed towards something. Hottest year to another hottest year and some accelerating heavy panic that the…

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‘Written to Music’

Kate Fagan Leave the long fall between us (peak after peak) Here were my paints and there were my powders And then I was drunk and we lost each other My shadow tumbled after Soaking cinnamon leaves in the lake of the moon The roll of the damned drum calls me to duty The dice in the light of the lamp I hear a stone gong I lean full weight on my slender staff Yellow leaves shaken and petals confused to my garden The hard road is written to music – Cedar Sigo, from ‘Panels for the Walls’ in Language     …

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‘Into the Interior’

Kate Fagan Mountain, mountain, mountain, marking time. Each nameless, wall beyond wall, wavering redefinition of horizon. – Denise Levertov, from ‘Into the Interior’ in O Taste and See[i] It takes a long time to write precise things. Mountain, mountain, mountain. This is the only way Levertov can describe what her speaker is thinking and feeling in the poem ‘Into the Interior’. Which interior? And is the observer a guest or stranger there? Each mountain is a marker of time and place. But ‘mountain’ is also an average, a changeable outline imposed on a living system. For a second Levertov’s poem…

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The Good Book

©Bruce Pascoe 2016 George Augustus Robinson was as randy as a turkey and twice as vain. He fornicated with the wives of his friends, the daughters of clergymen, the wives of the people he promised to save. Oh, the power of the good book and its promise of holiness. Or maybe he was just a terrific root. Or the soldiers and clergymen on whose women he preyed were too pissed to notice. George was on a mission, a Friendly Mission. He got friendly with the wife of one of the officer’s on Flinders Island while the man was away. In…

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Art, Australia and Good Hearts

© Bruce Pascoe 2016 At the Bundanon Festival at the weekend I was able to go through the Boyd’s house and see all the art, the walls of books, the great bowls and dishes of a wealthy family. Thinking about art and wealth I walked over the property and wondered about my country and what it values and who it celebrates. I found some cousins and sat down with them on the grass and talked family, country, politics and culture. And laughed. The great Aboriginal safety valve. When they left to perform an opening ceremony I watched them and watched…

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Peaceable Kingdom

‘And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the calf and the lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them out of the wilderness.’

I grew up with this story, heard it in church, seen it as pictures on my aunties’ walls and assumed it was just another of those Christian aphorisms for peace and kindness so loved of the church that also loved beheading Africans who dared believe in another God, or worse still, tried to hang on to their land.

Cry for my Heart, Dance for my Soul

by Bruce Pascoe I’ve been on boats and trains and plains all around the country supporting my book, Dark Emu, and the idea that Aboriginal people were not mere fauna and flora upon the plains of Australia but active agents in its care, nurture and agricultural productivity. Lyn has had to shoulder the burden while I dash about the continent, but here I was on Sunday, at it again. I flew into Hobart but, selfishly, I had added a couple of extra days to the itinerary so I could follow family and culture on the north coast. Chris Gallagher of…

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Crime and, inevitably, Punishment!

by Samuel Wagan Watson Writing is a misdemeanour of self-indulgence; therefore an escalated fit of writing could be considered blatant criminal activity. I took two words from the English dictionary before I even dressed this morning, and being an Indigenous writer its questionable as to whether or not these two words were ever my property to begin with. Suffice to say, I’m not giving these stolen items back, and I will attempt to profit from their acquired value. I was born into a family of writers and I was conceived on the lamb. Mum and Dad got hitched in 1971…

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