Communications

FNAWN members hit the stage

19 Jul 2017

members at Melbourne  2017 Writers Festival

The Melbourne Writers Festival program was launched last night, and created so much interest that their website appeared to crash!

And there’s lots to be excited to about. For starters, for the first time an Aboriginal writer will be giving the keynote speech at the Melbourne Writers Festival opening night gala. Kim Scott, a Noongar man and FNAWN member from WA, was the first Aboriginal writer to win the Miles Franklin Award (Benang, 1999).

I’m sure many of you have been eagerly awaiting Kim’s next book. The wait is almost over! Taboo, published by Picador, will be released on 25 July 2017.

Kim will be sharing the stage with another Aboriginal writer from WA on 26 August. Claire G Coleman, co-winner of  2016 black&write fellowship, will be releasing her debut book, Terra Nullius  (Hachette, Aug 2017). Kim and Claire will be joined by Jane Harrison, Muruwari woman, who was the 2104 blak&write recipient.

Other FNAWN members speaking at the festival are Melissa Lucashenko, Ellen van Neerven and Bruce Pascoe.

Indigenous Writing Now will also feature FNAWN members, Tony Birch and John Harding (ex-director of inaugural FNAWN Board). And don’t miss FNAWN member Carissa Lee Godwin‘s festival picks, as she roams around MWF as a digital reporter.

 

For more updates and news, see the latest FNAWN newsletter – First Word, July 2017

Chairperson Update

14 Jul 2017

July 2017

 

Dear Members,

FNAWN has just released the July 2017 Newsletter. While this is the first eNewsletter for a while, I hope you’ve all been enjoying the Facebook joy and information disseminated by inaugural Chair and continuing Director, (Aunty) Kerry Reed-Gilbert. FNAWN has also reactivated its Twitter account @FNAWN  Thanks to our (very) part-time project officer Karen Wyld for keeping the Twittersphere up-to-date on activities and associated comment.

With the 2016 budget cuts at the Australia Council for the Arts, FNAWN was unsuccessful in both grants applied for before I took up as Chairperson in late April that same year. As a volunteer Board we have been diligent in our efforts to ensure FNAWN stabilised its presence in the light of funding challenges. While competitive grant funding success has been a challenge, we are hopeful our application in the current round of project funding at the Australia Council might provide much-needed funds to support project activity around the expressed need for industry cultural competency to ensure better future service to Member and First Nation Australian writers.

Thanks for your continued support and know that the current Board is as determined as ever to contribute to the continued success of First Nations Australia writers and writing.

Regards,
Sandra

Dr Sandra R. Phillips
Chairperson (April, 2016, re-elected May, 2017)

FNAWN AGM

First Nations Australia Writers Network held its Annual General Meeting on 27 May 2017, for the financial year-ending June 2016.

Dr Sandra R Phillips was re-elected Chair. There were a few changes to the FNAWN Board but we are pleased to welcome back (Aunty) Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Charmaine Papertalk-Green, and Sharon Mununggurr. Darren Parker is a new addition to the Board. And Dr Jeanine Leane has resigned.

The Board would like to acknowledge outgoing Board member Dr Jeanine Leane, and wish her all the best.

Recent Activities

Dr Sandra Phillips is pictured with the other judges, and this year’s prize winner Heather Rose.

Dr Sandra Phillips was recently one of the 2017 judges for the illustrious Stella Prize.

The Australia Council invited FNAWN Chair Dr Sandra Phillips to facilitate an industry session during the Sydney Writers Festival. This session was held on 23 May, and attended by publishers and others key persons in the literature sector.

Titled First Nations Publishing, the purpose of the event was to deliver industry development skills and market awareness to publishers in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts production. It also provided an opportunity for the sector to engage with and discuss First Nations publishing and cultural protocol.

 

For more updates from FNAWN, please see the Newsletter – First Word, July 2017

 

 

 

 

2015 SA People’s Choice Award

18 Dec 2015

Ending off a great year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers, two FNAWN members were shortlisted for the 2015 South Australian People’s Choice Award: acclaimed writer and artist Ali Cobby Eckermann, and new writer and FNAWN Board member Karen Wyld.

This literary award acknowledges new and emerging writers who have a connection to South Australia. In addition to submissions from publishers, nominations come from booksellers, librarians, book clubs and other people who like to read.

The short-listed books are then distributed to book clubs in rural and urban SA, who vote at the end of a twelve month process. Over 300 people voted this year, with the winner announced at a writer’s panel earlier in December.

This year, the short-listed books were:

  • Ruby Moonlight by Ali Cobby Eckermann (2012, Magabala Books)
  • The First Week by Margaret Merrilees (2013, Wakefield Press)
  • Snowblind by Andrew T Shapter (2012, self-published)
  • When Rosa Came Home by Karen Wyld (2013, self-published).

Three of these books had Aboriginal characters and/or plots; more evidence that Australian readers do like diverse books.

The 2015 People’s Choice was awarded to Ali Cobby Eckermann. Congratulations from the FNAWN Board, Ali!

Australian Literary Events – Key Dates for 2016

23 Nov 2015

Leonardo da vinciKnowing what’s on throughout 2016 will help you plan your writing and promotions year. We’re going to keep this list open so that we can add new dates as they become available. If you hear of new dates, contact us so we can add them in.

Festivals to attend

Blak & Bright, Victorian Indigenous Literary Festival (19 – 21 February 2016)
More than 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander novelists, storytellers, poets, songwriters, playwrights, academics, comedians, raconteurs and rabble-rousers over three days in Melbourne. Keynotes, performances, workshops, panels and more.
Click here for more information about Blak & Bright Festival.

Festivals to submit

Emerging Writers FestivalOpen Artist Callout
The Emerging Writers’ Festival (14 June–24 June 2016) prides itself on being inclusive to everyone in the writing community, of all ages and at all stages of their career. They’re running an open artist call out for writers who’d like to be involved in the sure-to-be-incredible 2016 program. They are looking for interesting ideas about publications, performances, dialogues, panels, debates and workshops. This is open to individual writers, but also writer collectives, emerging publications and performance groups. Projects that consider the public presentation of writing in new ways are of extra interest to them. Whether you see yourself as an artist or audience member, they’d love to hear from you. If you’re successful, they’ll help you refine your idea and pair you with other writers.

Click here for more information about the Emerging Writers Festival.
Next Wave Writers in Residence Program – Call for Applications
Writers in Residence is Next Wave’s learning and development program for emerging critical and creative writers who identify as having disability. This program provides outstanding mentoring, learning opportunities and practical experience for writers who want to receive feedback and develop new skills through workshops and engagement with a variety of art forms in Next Wave Festival 2016. In partnership with Writers Victoria, Next Wave’s ‘Writers in Residence’ program offers five workshops (one per month from January to May 2016) with guest speakers from the writing and arts industry, and one-on-one mentoring from a Critical Peer. The participant will also attend Next Wave Festival events as well as studio visits and work-in-progress showings by Festival artists.
Click here for more information about the Next Wave Writers-in-Residence Program.

Noted FestivalCall for Artists, Curators and Indie Publishers
In March 2015, Noted staged Canberra’s first writers’ festival in five years. Over five days, at almost thirty free events spanning live, digital and professional development formats, Noted welcomed and paid over sixty emerging and experimental writers, editors, publishers and artists for the benefit of over 1,000 attendees. Applications to feature as a festival artist have officially opened, and Noted is actively seeking locals, interstaters, internationals, fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, editors, publishers, culturally and linguistically diverse creators, illustrators, and performers. If you want to run a workshop, conduct an online narrative experiment, collaborate in an art exhibition, or simply step forward and put your hand up because you just plain done write good, Noted welcomes your application. This year, Noted Festival is excited to also offer a professional development opportunity for an innovative and reliable exhibition curator. Additionally, Noted are seeking independent publishers who wish to hold a stall at their Independent Publishing Fair, to be held at Gorman Arts Centre during the festival.
Click here for more information about Noted Festival.

Prizes

Nita B Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers(Entries NOW open)
Amongst some of Australia’s most prestigious awards for women writers, the Nita B Kibble Literary Awards (the Kibble Awards) aim to encourage Australian women writers to improve and advance literature for the benefit of our community. The Awards recognise the works of women writers of fiction or non-fiction classified as ‘life writing’. This includes novels, autobiographies, biographies, literature and any writing with a strong personal element.The Kibble Literary Award recognises the work of an established Australian woman writer while the Dobbie Literary Award recognises a first published work from an Australian woman writer.
Click here for more information about the Nita B Kibble Literary Award.

Rhonda Jankovic Literary Awards
Entries may be poems or short stories on the theme of social justice. Poems to be no more than 50 lines; stories no more than 2,500 words. A fee of AUD$5.00 is applied to each item entered. First prize for each section is $600.
Click here for more information about the Rhonda Jankovic Literary Award.

Field of Words Spring Writing Competition
Flash fiction and short story entries welcome. Field of Words is dedicated to helping emerging writers grow. All entrants must be aged 18 and over. Both categories offer cash prizes for the winner and runner-up. Monthly finalists posted on the FoW website.
Click here for more information about the Field of Words Spring Writing Competition.

Narrative Magazine’s Fall Contest
The Narrative Magazine Fall Contest is open to both fiction and nonfiction pieces. Entries may be up to 15,000 in length and must be previously unpublished. First prize is $2,500, second prize is $1,000, third prize is $500, and up to ten finalists will receive $100 each. All entries will be considered for publication.
Click here for more information about the Narrative Magazine’s Fall Contest.

Fish Publishing International Short Story Prize
Fish Publishing International Short Story Prize is for stories up to 5,000 words. First prize is €3,000 (€1,000 of which is for travel expenses to the launch of the anthology). Second prize is a week at the Anam Cara Writers’ & Artists’ Retreat. Ten short stories will be published in the 2016 Fish Anthology.
Click here for more information about the Fish Publishing International Short Story Prize.

Story Wine Prize (2016 Dates TBC)
This competition aims to discover the finest in original short fiction up to 800 words in length.
Click here for more information about Overland’s Story Wine Prize.

National Indigenous Arts Awards (2016 Dates TBC)
The National Indigenous Arts Awards were established in 2007 to recognise and celebrate the outstanding work and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. These prestigious national awards consist of the Red Ochre and the Dreaming Award.
Click here for more information about the Australia Council’s National Indigenous Arts Awards.

Queensland Literary Awards (2016 Dates TBC)
The Queensland Literary Awards celebrate and promote outstanding Australian writers.
Click here for more information about the Queensland Literary Awards.

V.S Pritchett Memorial Prize (2016 Dates TBC)
This prize was founded by the RSL at the beginning of the new millennium to commemorate the centenary of an author widely regarded as the finest English short-story writer of the 20th century, and to preserve a tradition encompassing Pritchett’s mastery of narrative.
Click here for more information about the V.S Pritchett Memorial Prize.

Approaching Indigenous characters and culture

23 Nov 2015

Interview with Tony Birch and Michelle McLaren

Learn how to write about Indigenous stories, issues and landscapes in a culturally-sensitive way. Author and academic, Tony Birch is leading a day of workshops at Writers Victoria as a part of our two-day Indigenous Places Intensive program (SOLD OUT). Intern Michelle McLaren asked Tony about some of the issues surrounding writing about Indigenous culture.

Should non-Indigenous fiction writers avoid writing about Indigenous culture and characters? What protocols should they follow if they do write Indigenous characters?

I’m not the person to ask on this issue, as surprising as it may seem. I would never give advice to another writer on this issue, except to pass on how I approach such issues. I couldn’t say that I would avoid writing characters from other cultures, as I have done it. If I don’t feel that I can create a character with authenticity, a character plausible for the reader, I back away. There is though something particular at play here. First Nations people and communities have not only had history denied to us, OUR stories have been both destroyed and misappropriated. I like the comment of the German writer, Bernhard Schlink, that those who have their history denied to them, are entitled to the dignity of telling and controlling their own narrative.

How can non-Indigenous writers create more authentic Indigenous characters?

The same question can be asked of any writer, Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Authentic characters are drawn from the development of craft, not identity. Having said that, my experience is that the majority of non-Indigenous writers produce Indigenous characters who are “stock”, limited in so many ways. Experience is not everything, but it does help to create nuanced and more rounded characters

What changes need to be made to Australian literary culture to allow Indigenous writing to further flourish?

Indigenous writers are out there, but they need more support – financial, development, mentoring, publishing advice to get the work to a wider readership. And, naturally, we also need an education system that fully values both Indigenous cultural intellectual knowledge, and provides the resources – health, welfare, economic – to keep Indigenous kids in school, and on to higher education. University itself is not a pathway to writing, but it does provide a beneficial and enriching experience.

How can non-Indigenous people become more engaged with Indigenous issues? Where’s the best place to start?

There’s no starting place, and no end. Just read, watch, look and listen to everything you can

Can you recommend a few Indigenous authors everyone should be reading right now?

Ellen van Neerven, Kim Scott, Alexis Wright, Melissa Lucashenko, Jared Thomas, Bruce Pascoe – and many, many more.

About Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of ‘Ghost River’ (2015), ‘Shadowboxing’ (2006), ‘Father’s Day’ (2009) and ‘Blood’ (2011), which was shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin award. His collection of stories, ‘The Promise’ was released by UQP in 2014. Tony also writes essays and reviews, and teaches at a community level. He recently joined Victoria University as a research fellow.

About Michelle McLaren

Michelle McLaren is a Program Intern at Writers Victoria. She works as a freelance copywriter and blogs about all things literary at Book to the Future.

This post was originally published in Writer’s Victoria. It is re-posted here with permission.

FNAWN representation at the 2015 ASA National Writers Congress

26 Oct 2015

karen-sydney-fnawn

FNAWN was recently invited to send representation to the 2015 ASA National Writers Congress. Held at Luna Park in Sydney on 11 and 12 September, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) Congress theme was Reclaim, Reboot, Renew.

Karen Wyld, one of FNAWN’s new Board Directors, attended the ASA Congress alongside 200 other authors, as well as illustrators and industry professionals. Karen has provided us with a summary:

ASA’s Congress was held two weeks after FANWN’s Workshop, so I was still feeling the euphoria of having been in the company of so many fantastic writers. As you all know, writing is a solitary occupation and, unless you belong to a writers group, opportunities to network with other writers are rare. So I was very privileged to have been given the chance to attend two in a row.
The line-up of guest speakers and panel topics were mostly engaging and of interest. And lunch breaks provided plenty of time to network with writers, publishers, book reviewers and other industry representatives. I had a few opportunities to promote FNAWN and talk about the works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers. I also avidly live-tweeted over the 2 days; which I find is a good way to put forward alternative views from speakers and engage with other attendees.

Both the Hon Mark Dreyfus, Shadow Minister for the Arts (ALP) and Adam Brandt MP (Greens) presented an exciting vision for the arts, and demonstrated respect for writers and a desire to support creative industries. In comparison the Coalition’s arts plan, as presented by Minister for the Arts Senator George Brandis, was sadly lacking. The Government’s plan to redirect $104.8 million from the Arts Council to the newly created National Centre for Excellence in Arts, which has no reference to literature, was not well received by the audience.

Moving on from the disappointment, on the second day there were a few panels of authors and illustrators that were using technology and new mediums to create innovative works. After some negative reactions to digital in previous discussions, it was refreshing to see some of the advantages.
However, the most engaging session was on the first day; during a panel featuring Aboriginal illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft. She was joined by other speakers, including writer Michael Mohammed Ahmed, who raised the ongoing lack of diversity in Australian literature. He, rightly so, named the gatekeepers as being publishers, editors and judging panels.

Sadly, this gatekeeping was demonstrated in a later panel session when a representative from a global publisher pointed out their need to operate commercially; and she believed that books by diverse authors don’t sell. Thank goodness we have networks like FNAWN, because it’s time to open some gates.
I wasn’t able to stay for all of the last session, which was an audience discussion of the key issues for ASA to address. Before I left, there was a robust conversation on the importance of supporting authors from diverse backgrounds. This was a clear call for ASA to direct some energy into advocating for more diversity in Australian literacy. On that note, I left for the airport with a sense of renewed hope.

Jared Thomas writes about the FNAWN Delegation to the United States 2015

21 Oct 2015

U.S. National Book Festival, book sales

The FNAWN delegation consisted of writers who have established careers or are highly regarded as evidenced through recent winning and shortlisting of major Australian and international literary awards. The delegation included FNAWN Executive Director Cathy Craigie, Tony Birch, Jeanine Leane, Dub Leffler, Bruce Pascoe, Ellen van Neerven and myself, Jared Thomas.

Each writer is experienced in presenting at Australia’s premier writers festivals but we didn’t anticipate the scale and grandeur of the U.S. National Book Festival. Our introduction to the Festival commenced with a reception hosted by Caroline Millar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Australian Embassy, Washington, where we were introduced to National Library of Congress, U.S. National Book Festival staff and first nations literary figures. The hospitality was incredibly warm and it was evident that there is great interest and support for FNAWN activities.

 

 
Our introduction to the Library of Congress was also auspicious as upon arrival at the gala event we had opportunity to meet with American Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, America’s first Mexican-American Poet Laureate.

Kluge-Ruhe, Charlotsville, Virginia
Not one of us had much sleep following the festival Gala dinner. Our adrenalin pumped from visiting the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the largest library in the world, and rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s most highly regarded writers. Adrenalin continued to race through our veins when encountering the reality of the reality of the U.S. National Book Festival.
At least a thousand of people filled one of the seven salons during the first session of the day where first nations writer Louise Erdrich was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The salons remained continuously full throughout the day. To further provide a sense of the scale of the festival, it took fifteen minutes, to walk from the green room to the book sales point in a space resembling an airplane hangar at least twice the length of the MCG.
FNAWN delegates presented three panels at the U.S. National Book Festival, expertly facilitated by FNAWN Executive Director Cathy Craigie and very well received by readers, students and academics interested in our people, culture and works.
Time in Washington around the U.S. National Book festival was spent meeting with First Nations people and organisations including the National Congress of American Indians, Embassy of Tribal Nations, Lee Francis, National Director of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Each of these experiences provided the opportunity to advocate for further collaborations between FNAWN members and American First Nations communities and to reflect upon Australian politics and our position within it.
Time on the road provided opportunity to get to better know each of the writers and learn from their incredible experiences and knowledge. There was plenty of time for this as we drove to Charlottesville Virginia with raptors soaring above and cornfields and churches whizzing by.
Charlottesville Virginia presented opportunity to meet with and present with remarkable First Nation American writers Deborah Miranda and Karenne Wood at the University of Virginia and to visit the remarkable Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia which houses one of the finest Indigenous Australian art collections in the world, rivaling many of the collections held in Australia.
We spent an amazing afternoon with the Authors Guild in New York on September 11, learning about each other’s businesses and having a great lunch in an Arabic restaurant complete with a belly dancer. The lunch ended with FNAWN delegates and Authors Guild staff taking to the floor, our dance symbolic of the comfort in each other’s company.
Time in New York provided me the opportunity to meet with one of the big mainstream U.S. publishers. They had been in touch independent of FNAWN but standing on the street, alongside their iconic office building, looking down Fifth Avenue toward the Empire State Building, I asked myself, ‘how in the hell did I get here?’ There’s a whole lot of factors in that equation but it’s clear that FNAWN Executive Director Cathy Craigie and Chairperson Kerry Reed-Gilbert have played a large role in my writing journey.

Kluge-Ruhe
FNAWN is the consolidation of their vision and participation at the 2015 U.S. National Book Festival part of the broader vision for Aboriginal writers and literature. It is very difficult for international writers, especially Australian writers to break into the U.S. market but experiencing the literary offerings and opportunities of America with my esteemed colleagues, it is clear that FNAWN is set to open up the world to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers in ways beyond what any of us have imagined.

I anticipate that maybe one of the members from the 2015 delegation, or perhaps it will be the 2017 delegation, will make a splash in the U.S. and their success will benefit us all.

In Conversation with Ali Cobby Eckermann at Tarnanthi Festival

21 Oct 2015

Charmaine Papertalk Green reflects on her visit to the Tarnanthi Festival

I recently travelled from Western Australia to Adelaide to experience the inaugural Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art showcasing and celebrating Indigenous culture – Tarnanthi 2015. Whilst the visual arts dominated the festival scape, it is the incredible power of storytelling woven throughout the many creations and Tarnanthi that resonated with me. In this edition of FNAWN I share some insights from Ali Cobby Eckermann and on the Kapi Ungupayi/He gave us Water exhibition.

In Conversation with Ali Cobby Eckermann

I was particularly pleased to reconnect and spend some time with South Australian poet, writer and sculptor Ali Cobby Eckermann. Ali was involved in several Tarnanthi events – the Aboriginal Arts Fair held at Tandanya, Our Mob 2015 exhibition and writing response poetry to artist Yhonnie Scarce’s glass installation “Thunder raining poison” in the Art Gallery of South Australia.

In conversation we spoke of the place of writers and their books at these types of Festivals and Art Fairs, her inspirations behind creating the wire sculptures and writing a poetic response to Yhonnie Scarces installation.

It was refreshing to have a conversation around the place of Aboriginal literature in Festival and Art Fairs/Markets – many times literature is not mentioned let alone included in these events . Ali reinforced that writing is art therefore it had a place at these events and should be encouraged at all Art Fairs/Markets around Australia:

“I was invited to the Aboriginal Arts Fair by Nici Cumpston who encouraged all art forms to be present. The quality of all artists including all writers allowed me to place my books at the Arts Fair which was an opportunity to promote and discuss and allowed sales. I was asked if I had a Certificate of Authenticity to explain the background of my sculpture and I said “No I have a book which does the same thing”. I really felt that people at the Arts Market liked the combination of the art, literature and poetry. Most people would not have the money to buy the sculpture but 90% of people brought a book”.

Ali created two barbed wire powder coated fish trap installations for exhibiting at the Art Fair and the Our Mob 2015 Exhibition at the Adelaide Festival Centre Artspace Gallery. I asked Ali what her inspiration was behind creating the two sculptures:

“It was a visit back to the Eckermann Farm to a paddock called the ‘other place’, it was the only paddock with a red sand hill. That was a place I loved because it had a red sand hill. There was an old dump filled with old fencing wire. I got this glimpse of this fish trap. The healing part for me was to use old materials from my adopted families and recreate it into a beautiful Aboriginal sculpture which felt like it replicated my journey today. The sculpture reinforces my writing in a very personal way.”

 

Photo Credit, Charmaine Green 2015: Ali Cobby Eckerman Tarnanthi Art Fair SA

Photo Credit, Charmaine Green 2015: Ali Cobby Eckerman Tarnanthi Art Fair SA

The South Australia Writers Centre organised for 8 Aboriginal writers, 2 interstate and 6 South Australian, to write poetic response to selected Tarnanthi at the Gallery artworks at the Art Gallery of South Australia. I had a yarn with Ali over the phone about the readings:

“It was really well attended there were 8 writers responding to artworks organised by SA Writers Centre. The readings were very beautiful and profound. I wrote a poetic response to Yhonnie Scarce’s installation “Thunder rain and poison”. A lady came up to me after the reading and said that the poem changed the energy in the room- something happened. The profoundness of the poetry readings stayed with the writers for some time – we all hung out with each other for some time afterwards. It was healing, emotive and powerful.”

I would like to sincerely thank Ali for sharing for our FNAWN Newsletter.

“Kapi Ungupayi/He gave us Water” exhibition

On my last day in Adelaide I got a phone call from my AACHWA colleague saying “you better get down here Charmaine you will just love this exhibition”. When I walked into the SASA Gallery I was overwhelmed by what greeted me, and in a really good way. The exhibition was about the journey of five women in remote Western Australia (Blackstone and Wingellina), represented by the five tiny grass woven women figures greeting me at the entry point into the Gallery. One of the exhibition curators kindly spoke with me about the inspiration behind the exhibition and the stories woven into each exhibition element from the painted Toyota panel to the Sorry Business Camp stitched blankets.

The story tellers were five desert women who had gone out bush to gather punu (wood) for carving and their Toyota ran out of petrol stranding them for five days out in the desert. The women had to draw upon the cultural teachings and traditional knowledge handed down to them to find water and food to survive. The women describe this journey as the creation of a new tjukurpa (dreaming story), and every element of this new tjukurpa was present in the exhibition. They survived on goanna for food – there were grass woven standing goanna’s. They recalled being told stories of how finch birds would gather where there was water (holy water), they followed the finch birds, dug for water and found the holy water – there were finch bird paintings and an installation with hand woven finch birds gathering for water. A panel from the Toyota they drove into the bush was painted and exhibited – the vehicle part of this new dreaming story. Their traditional knowledge and stories handed down gave hope as the women sung songs in their country and to their country – a powerful video presentation was beautiful with calming sounds of singing flowing throughout SASA Gallery.

Additionally, “Kapi Ungupayi/He gave us water” is a response to the governments and others to understand living on remote communities is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ there is a reason for being in and on ancestral country:

“The people are here for a reason: to look after the land and the culture, and to keep that strong…”

Roma Peterman Butler, Ivy Laidlaw, Jennifer Mitchell, Tjawina Roberts and Mrs Woods. Tarnanthi 2015

FNAWN visit to Junee Goal

21 Oct 2015

Mukky Ken and Barb

A busy time for FNAWN Director Ken Canning and former Director Barbara Nicholson.

‘Ken’s of to Junee Gaol today for the start of the writing workshops with the Koori lads in there. This is being run by the South Coast Writers Group’s, Black Wallaby’s program. It’s sure to be a great day. He’ll be back in Sydney late in the week.’

Congratulations to all involved.

Dub Leffler’s Reflection on FNAWN USA 2015

28 Sep 2015

2015-09-05 10.53.02

Dub Leffler, illustrator and FNAWN member, reflects on the recent FNAWN delegation to the United States.

It was an absolute honour to be included in the first FNAWN delegation to go to the United States. The logistics of such a journey was not an easy task – something I have to thank the combined team behind the scenes from FNAWN led by Tony Duke and Cathy Craigie for organising & delivering.

The delegation itself showed a broad range of the what we do as writers – from informed works Science & Agriculture, Young Adult novels of faction and meta fiction to Picture books & University papers,prose & poem.

The opportunities we were afforded were defining highlights in my career to date – being welcomed at The Australian Embassy, featuring at The National Book Festival in Washington Dc, attending gala dinners with America’s literati, visiting the Kluge Ruhe Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery, meeting with The Author’s Guild to reading work at the prestigious Poets House in New York – all were highlights and vital to expanding our literature into international markets.

We were made most welcome by all parties involved and was amazed at the burgeoning interest in our culture & work -something i’m sure will continue. Tours like this, reinforce the feeling that the writings of our culture, history & future are important and a welcome part of the global village.