OCHRE LINES: Us Mob Writing (Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Samantha Faulkner and Lisa Fuller)

Posted on November 14, 2017 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

(Edited by Phillip Hall) 

Kerry Reed Gilbert

Through the looking glass

Creation surrounds me
As I walk upon hallowed land
Red dirt claims me
The sun burns brightly on my back

Through the looking glass I see me
I am withered
My body bent too tired to walk straight
My hands like stumps of a burnt tree
My eyes misty but still I see
Earth’s grandeur

Through the looking glass I see them
Walls of stone, castles of glass
Bricks and mortar, steel and iron
Ivory towers, men in suits
IPad and telephones

A sign of the times
Now I lay me down to sleep

 

I know you

I know you but you do not know me
You don’t know my Dreaming
You think I was born when Cook sailed his boat to shore
I am your womb, Mother Earth

This land I have grown it since time beginning
I have fed it from my swollen breasts
I have moulded it with my two hands
I breathe life into every nook and cranny
That your eyes now feast upon is a part of you

But I must say this to you, this your Country
Your need to be true to the Dreamin’
You need to take care of Country
Take care of people, you need to belong

Our breathing swirls, painting rainbows in the sky
Our blood flows uniting earth and life
Our love is yesterday and tomorrow
Be wise my friend or lose a treasure
Behold the land’s Lores or beware of a woman’s fury

 

Eveleigh Street, Redfern

They walked down Eveleigh Street
These two young lads best mates
They held each other’s hands
Aged 5 or 6 I couldn’t really tell
I saw the friendship, the mateship
Clasped tight within those hands

They walked laughing loud together
Telling a story or maybe a joke
The innocence of youth fused
Within that tightening grip

A mother’s voice is heard out loud
She yells for her son to return to his home
Many years and many jokes told
United as one these lads grow old
Best mates forever they never left the fold

The safeness of the street keeps them bound together
Eveleigh Street, Redfern, the home of the Blacks in 1967
The years rush past. Women and kids come along
A childhood promise the two old mates remember
Through thick and thin they’ll do it together

Whatever life chucks at them they took it in their stride
But life can be tragic and the years can be unkind
When two young boys found themselves to be two old men
Poverty and despair was their final resting place
As they grew into old age and faced the racism of this land.

 

Samantha Faulkner

NAIDOC Week 

It’s a fun celebration of prowess and pride
Strangers become friends
And friends are family
Warmth and security in the air

Flag raising and morning teas
Indigenous bush foods cherished
Conversations and catch-ups
Sometimes just once a year

Sporting activities and BBQs
Family days, plenty of rides
Speeches, dances, kids stuff
To start and finish the week

Don’t forget the Ball
When we all get dressed up
Everyone looking deadly
Awards and photos
Great night for all

Elders proud, children strong
Solid in our identity
Love it when we celebrate
Being the oldest culture in the world

 

Lisa Fuller

Bicultural Reject 

Living a life
Of the colonised mind
I sway on a tightrope
Toes clenched and cramping
To hold on to a lifestyle
I have bled for but
No longer
Sure

I want

 

Happy Place

In times of stress
And depression
I close my eyes
To find
The river

Glass ripples
Sunlight streaming
As baby perch nibble
Sit still now bub
Sit still!

Cuzzies laugh
Playing through weeded
Water, toes tensed
In sandy beds
And nothing in our minds
But life and our river

Brush of calm breeze
Turned cool on wet skin
As it dances in gums
Kicks leaves and rustles
The world

Aunties sit scattered
Along banks
Fishing lines far enough
Up stream to catch dinner

Uncles sort out
Fire while the kids
Called in, no more
Cold today

 

Remembrance

Old cemetary closed
Its barren ground littered
With cement blocks and hand
Carved names
My family’s graves
Are unmarked
Numbers no longer
In place
Run over and shattered
By someone too busy
On a ride-on mower

Nice new cemetary been built
Across the road but
one’s history
Not lost, commemorated
By a plaque
Acknowledging town architects
Builders and designers
Who came before
Not
One
Of my family

This century they built it
Say it’s all history
Hurry up and get over it
Like it’s ancient
But it’s every damn day
Staring us in the face

The anger rises
Fades
Hopelessness
Stays
Poisoning hearts and minds
So life is pointless
Why try when the deck
Is stacked?
Welcome to your hell
AKA
Our lives

 

Us Mob Writing is a group of First Nations Australian poets, writers and storytellers, both emerging and established, committed to showcasing First Nations writing. The group formed more than seven years ago in the ACT.

They are launching their book Too Deadly: Our Voice, Our Way, Our Business, on 21 November at the Belconnen Arts Centre. For enquiries and book purchases, email Kerry Reed-Gilbert on kuracca@bigpond.net.au.

 

____________________________________________________________

Kerry Reed-Gilbert is a Wiradjuri woman from Central New South Wales who has performed and conducted writing workshops nationally and internationally. She was the inaugural Chairperson of the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) 2012 – 2015 and continues today as a Director. In 2013 she co-edited a collection of works By Close of Business, with the Us Mob Writing (UMW) group, and was FNAWN co-editor for the Ora Nui  Journal, a collaboration between First Nations Australia writers and Maori writers. 2015 saw Kerry short-listed  for the Story Wine Prize, and in 2016 she edited a collection of First Nations voices from across Australia titled A Pocketful of Leadership in the ACT. Kerry is a former member of the Aboriginal Studies Press Advisory Committee and her poetry and prose have been published in many journals and anthologies nationally and internationally, including in the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature. Her works has been translated into French, Korean, Benglai, Dutch and other non-English speaking languages.

In 2003 Kerry was awarded an International Residence at Art Omi, New York, USA. In 1997 she toured the South African spoken word national tour ECHOES, and in 2005 she toured Aotearoa, New Zealand, as part of the Honouring Words 3rd International Indigenous Authors Celebration. In 2006 she received an Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Award & a Poet of Merit Award from the International Society of Poets.

Samantha Faulkner is a Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal woman from the Wuthuthi/Yadhaigana peoples, Cape York Peninsula and Badu and Moa Islands, Torres Strait. She is the author of Life Blong Ali Drummond: A Life in the Torres Strait, published in 2007 by Aboriginal Studies Press.  As a member of Us Mob Writing Group she has performed at a number of festivals including Noted (2015-2017) and the AIATSIS Conference (2014 & 2016). She has poetry and prose published locally (By Close of Business, Us Mob Writing Group, 2013, & A Pocketful of Leadership in the ACT, ed. Kerry Reed-Gilbert, 2016); nationally (Etchings Indigenous: Treaty, Ilura Press, 2010); and internationally (Ora Nui: A Collection of Maori and Aboriginal Literature, ed. Kerry-Reed Gilbert & Anton Blank, 2014, & Narrative Witness: International Writing Program, University of Iowa, 2016). She has represented women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests on local, state and national boards.  She is currently Chairperson of the ACT Torres Strait Islanders Corporation.

Lisa Fuller is a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Eidsvold, Queensland, and is also a descendent of the Wakka Wakka and Gurang Gurang mobs.  An emerging writer, she has had a short story and some poems published in Etchings Indigenous: Treaty, and poetry published in UMW’s anthology, By Close of Business. As Editorial and Production Officer at Aboriginal Studies Press, she was lucky enough to attend the 2014 Residential Editorial Program. Lisa has a Masters of Creative Writing and is the joint winner of the 2014 Anne Edgeworth Fellowship. Lisa recently won the 2018 Varuna Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship, and has won the 2017 David Unaipon Award for her book Mirrored Pieces. A member of Us Mob Writing, she is passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples writing, and culturally appropriate publishing. She is a current member of the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN).

 

 

A Sorry Memento, or Sorry Lamento (Teena McCarthy)

Posted on June 2, 2017 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

Teena McCarthy, ‘A Triple Gin on the Rocks’. Photography, ochres, organic house paint, charcoal. Location: my Grandmothers Country, Broken Hill, NSW, 2016


A Sorry Memento, or Sorry Lamento

Teena McCarthy, ‘Sorry, Sis’. Cardboard, ochre and soy wax with lavender oil, 2012.

 

The night bird sings
its mourning song.
The day beckons,
light through shadow.
It feels hollow
but sinks me
and a kind of weight follows
leaching into every crevice.
‘Don’t cry baby, please don’t cry.’

You were nothing but a promise.

Return to silence
to the quiet and calm
of the night tide
hitting the shore,
like a slap that’s been
worn before.

 

 

____________________________________________________________

Portrait of Teen McCarthy by Bill Hope, ‘The Essence of a Woman’, 2013.

Graduating in 2014 from University of NSW Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction, Teena McCarthy has exhibited extensively for the past seven years. In 2011 she curated iNTervention Intervention, a protest exhibition about The Northern Territory Emergency Response Act. In 2014 McCarthy’s work was exhibited in Monuments to the Frontier Wars, curated by Damien Minton, who later invited her to appear in the Redfern Biennale 2015 and 2016. Djon Mundine OAM curated her in That I May be of Service – Motto of the Clan Foley, an exhibition about activist, actor, academic and original member of The Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Dr Gary Foley, at The Rocks Discovery Museum(2014-15). McCarthy was selected finalist in The NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize 2014 and 2015, and her commissions include the cover of UNSW Law Faculty’s Reconciliation Action Plan (2015), a painting which is now part of UNSW’s permanent collection. McCarthy was the featured artist in Old Lands – New Marks, an exhibition in Artlands Dubbo 16 curated by Djon Mundine OAM for Western Plains Cultural Centre, and she also featured as a performance and visual artist in the successful Contemporary Arts Festival in Kandos, Cementa 17, curated by Ann Finnegan. McCarthy recently exhibited in a group show, Summer Sojourns 17, at Simon Chan’s Art Atrium, Bondi, and all enquires regarding her work can be addressed to this gallery.

BHP (Be Humble Please)
(Teena McCarthy)

Posted on October 5, 2016 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

img_4209

Teena McCarthy, ‘Whatevahappentu Ophelia’, 2014, mixed assemblage: organic ochre house paint, found perspex, found antique wood frames, antique wallpaper, organic pigment mineral blue eyeshadow, wire and tape

(painting & poetry for Nanna)

black by day
white by night
this broken ol’ town
all battered and burned
high gutters in case of a storm
silver & gold
yes! you were born
you gave yourself so mercilessly
bromide, chromate and lead
you were bled
dry like the riverbed
oh, my darling
river of young and old
where if you’re lucky
you may find gold
women in long dresses
formaldehyde and babies’ clothes
faces of the strong men
who came in droves
the settlers, all holed up in a
house on a hill
with a chapel and an ol’ donkey
just standing
in the mud
near the well
when just over the hill
10 kms out of town
there you were
your plains as red
as dry
as the river bled

 


A recording of  Teena reading BHP, featuring Willy Wagtail (her father’s totem)

Artist’s Statement

“Since I was a child I have always been proficient with words. I painted as a form of this expression, as I had no other outlet for the words.

It wasn’t until 2012, whilst doing a BFA at COFA, UNSW, that I started to incorporate the two, and words became an important part of my performance art; you cannot divorce one from the other. While doing an artist residency at Fowlers Gap, north of Broken Hill, NSW, I was able to return to my grandmother’s country. I absorbed the spirituality of the land and was compelled to perform, photograph, write and paint on Country — but most importantly, to sit down and experience a belonging to the land.

This poem was inspired by that visit to the Darling River in my grandmother’s country. In the Barkindji language, ‘Barka’ means river, and therefore my ancestors are the people of the river.”

____________________________________________________________

img_4218Teena McCarthy is a visual artist and poet who works predominantly in painting, photography and performance art. She graduated with a Distinction in 2014 in Art & Design at UNSW with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. McCarthy is a descendant of the stolen generations who uses art and poetry to document her family’s displacement. She utilises humour, wit and pathos to reflect her identity and hidden history.

McCarthy has exhibited extensively over the past 7 years. She was a finalist in 2014 & 2015 in The NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize; in 2015 she was commissioned to paint the cover of UNSW Law Faculty’s ‘Reconciliation Action Plan’ and this piece was later acquired for their permanent collection. Her work has appeared at The Redfern Biennale 2015 – 2016, and in an exhibition entitled ‘That I May be of Service – Motto of the Clan Foley’ curated by Djon Mundine OAM at The Rocks Discovery Museum in 2015. In 2011 McCarthy curated ‘iNTervention Intervention’ an exhibition about the NT Emergency Response Act, as part of the curator mentorship program at The Vanishing Point Gallery, Newtown. This exhibition was the first of its kind in Australia and garnered international acclaim.

Teena’s work is currently featuring in an exhibition entitled ‘Old Land New Marks’ commissioned for ARTLANDS Dubbo from renowned independent Bandjalung curator Djon Mundine OAM. The exhibition opens this Friday 7 October. Details of the opening can be found here and full program details for ARTLANDS Dubbo 2016 can be found here.

Poems from Borroloola Poetry Club: Diwurruwurru
(Phillip Gijindarriji Hall)

Posted on July 8, 2016 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

aborginal-kidsBorroloola is remote town located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory. It has a population of around 600-700 people in the Dry Season; and approximately 800-1000 people in the Wet Season. The population of Borroloola is 95% Indigenous and is made up of members of the Yanyuwa, Garrawa, Mara and Gudanji peoples.

The Borroloola Poetry Club, Diwurruwurru (message stick), is an Indigenous writers’/storytellers’ group that meets at the local school, or at the local Warralungku Arts Centre, under the care of local teacher/poet, Phillip Hall. The club is made up of both adult and school student members and meets every Friday afternoon (and sometimes on camp out bush).

Diwurruwurru has established an annual poetry prize (with children’s, young adult and adult sections) as part of the Borroloola Show. This year’s prize attracted over 70 entries; and was a glorious testament to the club’s dynamism.

Diwurruwurru has also collaborated with The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, since 2012, to establish an annual poetry festival in Tennant Creek; to publish member poems electronically on The Barkly Poetry Wall and in the print publication, Coming to Voice. In 2013 the Club also worked with the NT Writers’ Centre to secure an Australia Council grant to host Lionel Fogarty (an award-winning Indigenous poet) and Amanda King (a digital artist) in a month long residency in Borroloola. This exciting program saw Borroloola school students writing poetry, learning to perform and then recording their efforts onto film. In 2014 twenty members from Diwurruwurru were invited to WordStorm, the NT Writers’ Festival, to launch the Borroloola poetry film onto the national stage – a wonderful celebration of creativity in the Gulf.

Diwurruwurru has secured many other publication opportunities in 2014-2015: we have been selected to appear in the new Donna Ward Inkermann & Blunt publication and in the Red Room Company’s new ‘Poetry Objects’ series.

Diwurruwurru writes group poems under the guidance of Phillip Hall. Our creative process is to meet around a meal where we share a lot of excited ideas/stories. Phillip gathers these together on a white-board where the drafting process begins with much discussion, debate and hilarious attempts to pronounce/spell Aboriginal English and Language words. Phillip continues to work on the poem over the following week before bringing it back to the group for approval. This process is sometimes repeated over several weeks.

Under the care of Phillip Gijindarriji Hall, Diwurruwurru is a lively creative place where family and friends meet to explore, experiment and assert Indigenous Culture and Story. The message stick that it generously shares is one of pride, respect and strength.

dance strong, dat country move en you

(Diwurruwurru with Mista Phillip.
In this instance Diwurruwurru
consists
of 7 lower secondary school students
)

millad mob drive out bush long way
over dem hills to make bend like dis
an us mob see fresh tracks of big fulla
big an black an he biggest mob angry
he angry like wounded beast
with horns so wild an he growl us
but dis country ours an millad mob
know it good way so us drive on
all way to wandangnula
dem whitefullas call police lagoon
but us mob know it right way
an us see dem hills so biggest dry
an know where dat wurnamburna is
you know mista dat white ochre
it bend down like dis
an it hard but there biggest pack
ochre to mix with water an dig
millad mob dig like dis an fill
dem buckets right way dat white ochre
for dance an make us dance strong like tru
aboriginal an make dat country move en you
us mob paint dat ochre here
on the face like dis an on our arms here
sum mob paint it on dem chest here an on legs
here an here but not us mob
millad mob paint here an here an here
like dis you see do it good way
an den us line up an start to move swingin
our arms an stompin feet to kick dust
it dance for country swingin stompin
lit by ochre as dem singers breathe
da language only dem old people know
us mob just too deadly steppin singin

up da storm.

Da Barri Barri Bullet Train

(Borroloola Culture Camp)

we bin get up with mista an habim gooda one feed
we bin jumpin da mudika
an millad bin go lunga bush
mimi an kukudi bin come too
an dey bin singim kujika
dey bin learnim us mob
for sing im kujika
we likim learn for sing us mob kujika
wen us mob bin lyin down in da darkes
darkest night I bin look da barri barri
e bin movin really really like da bullet train
I bin hold ma mimi really tight
da fire us mob bin make next ta millad mob
poking tongue like a big one king brown
an millad mob listen noise one side na water
must e bin da buffalo drinkin water
den us bin listen da croc bin snap da buffalo
da gnabia out there too
an he bin make us mob so frightn
but ma mimi bin sing out
hey you mob stop all da noise
ma mimi bin start to sing
da song na us mob country
sing in da old language
dem old people did sing
an make millad mob so shiny an strong
an I bin lyin da listen na mimi
I bin feel really really safe
den I musta bin go sleep

 

Notes

Barri Barri: is Indigenous language in the Gulf region of northern Australia for ‘shooting star’

Mudika: is Kriol in the Gulf region of northern Australia for ‘motorcar’

Millad: is Indigenous language in the Gulf region of northern Australia for the first person plural pronoun: we, us, our

Mimi: is Indigenous language in the Gulf region of northern Australia for ‘pop’ or ‘grandfather’, on the mother’s side

Kukudi: is Indigenous language in the Gulf region of northern Australia for ‘grandmother’, on the mother’s side

Kujika: is Indigenous language in the Gulf region of northern Australia for ‘Songlines’

Gnabia: is Indigenous language in the Gulf region of northern Australia for ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’

____________________________________________________________

phillip hall (3)

Phillip Hall has worked for many years as a ‘wilderness’ expedition leader throughout NSW & Far North Queensland; but since 2011 he has worked in remote Indigenous education in Borroloola, the Gulf of Carpentaria. Phillip designs sport and Outdoor/Environmental Education programs designed to teach emotional resiliency, cooperative group learning, safe decision-making and respect for Country. He has been adopted into Gudanji family; where he is also known by the skin name of Jabala and the traditional or bush name of Gijindarraji (given to him because it was the bush name of his nana’s pop); he is a member of the Rrumburriya clan; and is a Jungkayi (custodian) for Jayipa (Catfish Hole). His Mother is the emu and goanna though his nana jokes that his real Dreaming is the curlew or ‘Worry Bird’. In 2012 Phillip established Diwurruwurru (The Borroloola Poetry Club). Diwurruwurru means message stick and is used by permission of the Traditional Owners.

These poems were first published in Diwurruwurru: Poetry from the Gulf of Carpentaria (Blank Rune Press, 2015).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr In-between (Brian Young) & The Straight Road Story
(Namall Manu)

Posted on January 26, 2016 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

Neil Jupurrurla Cooke at the Catfish waterhole, near Lajamanu 2014. Photograph by Judith Crispin.

Neil Jupurrurla Cooke at the Catfish waterhole, near Lajamanu 2014. Photograph: Judith Crispin.

Mr In-between

by Brian Young

(edited by Phillip Hall)

White trash, black trash, that in-between one brown one trash
You tell me, what fuck am I??!!!
Might have been stolen one, hobble-chained or massacred one
Run up the flag pole and spat on one
But I am white trash, black trash, that in-between one brown one trash
You tell me, what fuck am I??!!!
Might have been Cathy or Lionel, Michael or Yvonne
Maybe even Anthony fuckin’ Mundine
But I am white trash, black trash, that in-between one brown one trash
You tell me, what fuck am I??!!!
Might have been off the rails in prison one
Doped up big, pissed down lil-broken one
But I am white trash, black trash, that in-between one brown one trash
You tell me, what fuck am I??!!!
Might have been homeless one, street urchin pusher one
Dressed up buskin’ lil-corroboree one
But I am white trash, black trash, that in-between one brown one trash
You tell me, what fuck am I??!!!
Might have been white mother, black father
And everyone’s unwanted brown lil-shit one
So I am white trash, black trash, that in-between one brown one trash
You tell me, what fuck am I??!!!
Yes, you all tell me what fuck am I!!!

 

The Straight Road Story

by Namall Manu

(edited by Phillip Hall)

Fightin’ all round me. To flee I drink an smoke gunja. An eat magic mushrooms, exploding my head so high. I am sad one so one day when crazy high on drugs I do home invasion – splintering what no one gives to me. This is a very bad time like sitting on a cactus till it feel really really good. It brings my family shame. That is when I went crashin’ like an ambush. I do my time in juvenile jail and then get myself to East Arnhem Land, back to my Country. I need to straighten out an bring pride back to my family. I am Ganambarr man. This is my clan name an this is where I belong. My mission now is to be a strong one, northern branded with my tattoos, sharing with others to find some peace of mind.

 

______________________________________________________________

 

Phillip Hall and Brian Young

Phillip Hall and Brian Young

 

Brian Young is a homeless Central Australian man living in Darwin’s ‘long grass’. He is a talented performance poet too often over-looked and not heard. Amidst life’s troubles he flourishes and survives still.

 

 

Manall Manu

Manall Manu

 

Namall Manu is currently living in the long grass in Darwin. He does volunteer work at the Northern Territory Writers’ Centre and hopes one day to publish a book of all his memories. He likes to help others.

 

 

Judith Crispin is a poet, musician and artist. She has a PhD from the ANU and has done a bunch of post-doctoral research in Paris and Berlin. Judith runs poetry readings at Manning Clark House and is employed by the Australian Catholic University as director of academic and creative research for the Julfa Project. Her images are exhibited in international festivals and her first collection of poetry, The Myrrh-Bearerswas published last year by Puncher and Wattmann.

This image of Neil Jupurrurla Cook is part of a collection of Tanami desert photographs which will be published as the book The Lumen Seed by Daylight Books in 2016.

Fracking (Graham Akhurst)

Posted on October 28, 2015 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

FullSizeRender
(edited by Phillip Hall)

lured
by haunted
             white
                   space
I fill the page with egret

bloom with flame tree


impart wisdom


in lake's           reflection

nature's metaphor
conjures
beauty
for a time

until

hallowed
             images
                       fade

like
              birdsong
                          on
                            wind

 

____________________________________________________________

Graham Akhurst studied for a Bachelor of Creative Arts in writing at the University of Queensland and is currently doing his honours. Prior to this he completed an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts where he studied music, and wrote and co-created several performances that were held at QPAC. Graham has been published several times for fiction and poetry. Graham is of Aboriginal descent and hails from the Kokomini tribe in Northern Queensland. He resides in Brisbane.

Master of the Ghost Dreaming (Graham Akhurst)

Posted on May 29, 2015 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

Etching of Laperouse Expedition vessels(Edited by Phillip Hall & Brenda Saunders)

 

A bloodied sunset reminds us

That ghosts come from the ocean in the dark

They bellow on trumpets

And greedily watch sails flex

Drawing them closer

They leave their dreaming

Or is it there still

Under layers of cloth?

The moon witnesses

Their pale wisps stalking the land

Then the morning calls

The raging sun to bury them back into the shadow

 

 ____________________________________________________________

 

Graham Akhurst studied for a Bachelor of Creative Arts in writing at the University of Queensland and is currently doing his honours. Prior to this he completed an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts where he studied music, and wrote and co-created several performances that were held at QPAC. Graham has been published several times for fiction and poetry. Graham is of Aboriginal descent and hails from the Kokomini tribe in Northern Queensland. He resides in Brisbane.

 

Taxi! (Brenda Saunders)
Transformative Progress
(Barbara Nicholson)

Posted on April 3, 2015 by in Black Wallaby (Ngana Banggarai): Emerging Indigenous Writers' Project

FullSizeRender (26)Taxi!

by Brenda Saunders

I met her at the lights with six plastic bags
Food bought at Woollies
          with a Salvo’s card
making for the taxis on Pitt and Park

Black and proud. She’s used to cabs
Never mentions high-rise
                             The Block or Waterloo

Asks the driver first in line
‘Are you free? Can you open the boot please?

Waits, as he looks up from the ‘Form’
suspecting trouble he takes no bets
                                        says he’s booked

The man in a Silver Cab examines
his windscreen, has no answer
                             to her open smile
Her missing teeth held against her

Angry, I see round three’s up to me
Demand a ride from a waiting cab
                            while she dumps her stuff
                            and jumps inside

‘I’ve got their numbers, I’ll follow through’
I yell to the cab as she moves away

Her strong voice trails a defiant response

‘I always ring, but it don’t change nothin’
Same, same story with real black skin’

 

Transformative Progress

by Barbara Nicholson

From in the time that defies measure
We know it as the Dreaming
And long before I gained my human form,
I watched my people, my ancestors
Live, love and enjoy the infinite wealth
Of the Land, Our Mother.
I saw them feast on the finest produce
From land, sea, lake and stream.
I saw them warm, comfortable and happy
In their spiritual knowings
At one with all creation.
Content with few yet sufficient material things
Kept warm by possum skins and sacred fires
Healthy bodies robust, gleaming in sun, moon and fire light.

I knew my time to join them was soon
And when I came from the Dreaming
All was as I had witnessed from time immemorial.
Then came people of different skin,
They had strange animals, they had guns,
Their possum skins were wrong, their food poisonous
They had strange and hideous customs,
We heard new words for our sacred rites,
Our customs, beliefs and sacred sites
They talked with harsh staccato sounds
Not like the soft murmurings of our language
They were quite stupid and had a bad smell.

But very soon and with inexorable speed
An all consuming change would come
Very soon the abundance that once sustained my people
Was depleted by ruthless exploitation
And now no more midiny, no more gadyun. Wuri.
No more bimblas, dalgal, pippies. Wuri.
No more magura, yara, badangi. Wuri.
No more warraburra, ngalangala, gurgi. Wuri.
No more midjuburi,  buruwan, wadunguri. Wuri.
No more marrang bulga. Wuri.

Now steelworks, coal mines, concrete
Desecrate the land with toxic industry.
Supermarkets replace natural abundance
Once we rich in natures’ gifts,
Now we poor, but got our Dreaming.
People with strange skin got no Dreaming
Just rich money way, got sad faces.
Big boss whitefella call it progress.

My body gleams,
My possum skins and sacred fires sustain me
I live in the richness of my Dreaming.

.

Glossary of Aboriginal words

Badangi… rock oyster
Buruwun… rock lily
Dalgal… black mussels
Gadyan, bimblas… cockles/vongole
Gurrgi… bracken fern root.
Magura… fish
Midiny… yam
Ngalangala… mushroom
Pippies… small clam
Marrang bulga… sandhills, home of returning spirits.
Midjuburi… lilli pilli, native cherry tree
Wadunguri… banksia, native flower
Warraburra… Native sarsaparilla
Wuri… lost, gone
Yara… crab

*Brenda Saunders and Barbara Nicholson act as mentors/editors for Verity La’s Emerging Indigenous Writers’ Project. You can find out more about them, the project, and its third editor, Phillip Hall, here.