A special book launch

| 01 Oct 2019

Wild Dingo Press cordially invite people to attend the National Launch of the late Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert’s long-awaited childhood memoir The Cherry Picker’s Daughter.

To be launched by Samantha Faulkner, Us Mob Writing ACT (UMW) and Yvette Holt, FNAWN Chair.

Please join Wild Dingo Press, FNAWN, UMW, and Aunty
Kerry Reed-Gilbert’s family and friends to celebrate the memory and extraordinary literary journey of Aunty Kerry.

Catering of local Canberran bushtucker canapés and afternoon tea will follow on from the launch, along with book sales at the National Library foyer.

More information and book tickets here

Copies of The Cherry Picker’s Daughter available for purchase at the event or online

FNAWN Literary Awards

| 30 Sep 2019

The FNAWN Board and award judges are proud to announce the winners of the 2019 inaugural FNAWN Literary Awards.

Short Story Award:

The judges for this category were Jared Thomas and Rachel Bin Salleh.
The prize is $2,000.

The winner is Alexis West for Young, Beautiful and Free.

There were no entries for the under 30s category.

Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert Poetry Award:

The judges were Lionel Fogarty and Yvette Holt.

There were two division prizes for this Award category:

Under 30s, with a prize of $2,000
Won by Jazz Money for Transit of Venus (false gods).

Open age, with a prize $2000
Won by Luana Towney for Our Protests for Our People

Young, Beautiful and Free.
By Alexis West

Young beautiful and free, the wind blowing my hair back and tickling my arms, the sun so warm on my legs and left side of body I could see the red in the chocolate brown of my smooth skin. Free! At least I told myself this morning I was free for the weekend. My boyfriend behind the wheel an Escort Red dangling from his lip’s dark glasses on with the stupid fluorescent green sun visor on. I smiled mine was a matching fluorescent orange. Same-same but different. So, the conviction of being free was being in a couple where we both were free. I was 19 co-dependant and still trying to figure it out. Now after almost 20 years I can look back and know what co-dependence is.

Driving South along the coast to camp on the beach and fish off the jetty. A whole weekend to ourselves where I didn’t have to share my man with all his friends. I was stoked. I adjusted my legs peeling my legs off of the vinyl seat covering they were glued too and positioned them so my thighs wouldn’t look so huge. Sexy I reached out with my right hand so my fingers could tangle in the curls at the back of his head. He looked across at my chest with my bright orange and purple bikini top then ran his eyes over my whole body he ran his hand up my thigh and into my crotch. I wriggled into his hand Def Leppard blaring on the tape deck. We were gonna have so much fun this weekend! I pulled a smoke from the packet and lit up soaking in the view and my life.

We turned off the main road towards the Bay stopping at the corner shop that sells bait putting it straight into the esky with ice and alcohol. We drove onto the beach, the anxiety in my belly began, it looked like tent city! We were late! Where were we gonna find a spot. So many people! Ugh! We drove through the neighbourhood nice and slow so we wouldn’t run over toddlers, doggies or beach balls. The dream of having a beach all to ourselves was smashed. We got to the outskirts of tent city, parked the car to start unloading and setting up. An exercise in team building that we both passed with flying colours. Simple really, I just did what I was told and used my initiative. I clocked the two young men who were camped out with their family and wanted to look like the ideal sexy girlfriend with tight cut off jeans with sweet buns. This was my element, where I shone! My brown skin, thick thighs and juicy arse looked great with no competition from blonde long-haired goddess’.

Home away from home! Bed with comfy mattress, camp stools, esky, drinks, rods, bait, food, firewood. We were set! We packed cones punching them back while we watched the sun sink into the blinding golden water. The stars came out, the air got cold, the fire was started, and the layers came on. I drank more cider. I was buzzing. We were dancing, singing, laughing with the car radio blaring. We were ‘those’ people.

A cold rush of wind caught into the crevices of my clothes and a moment of sobriety and consideration breathed into me. I turned off the car radio and began whispering with paranoia. We should go out on the jetty to fish. My boyfriend always up for an adventure immediately began the preparations. I went to find somewhere to squat. Id drunk a lot of cider.

Bucket, flashlight, esky, smokes, drinks, rods. We were set. We began our not so quiet trek to the jetty, tripping and stumbling through the quiet village keeping our chuckles and snorts to what we thought was an acceptable noise level.

The wind was picking up the closer we got towards the carpark leading up to the jetty and it was cold. We reached the edge where the pylons meet the land looking out towards the end of the jetty. The wind began to forcibly push us back. The T junction looked miles away, but that was where we were headed. Schools of fish apparently. I was regretting my suggestion already longing for the tent to get out of this cold ferocious wind. He was invigorated, fishing was his passion, not mine.

I paused to spark up a fag, the pause turning into a lengthy delay trying to use my hands, my jacket, his body as a shield to get the damn thing alight, finally, here we go. I was glad it was dark as we trudged along, I always got vertigo walking on jetty’s, I can never stop myself from looking down and
the gaps between the wood and the ocean spin me out. It was the fear of being blown off into the jetty into the sea that was freaking me out instead. I walked in closer to him having to walk double time to keep up with his 6’3” stride. We passed a few groups dedicated fishers; I kept my head down
to avoid making contact.

I’d finished my smoke and we weren’t even halfway there as I flicked it away from me casually using the ocean as my own personal ashtray the bucket flew from my hand. I’m a clutz! I began chasing as it continued to roll out of my reach, the sprinkling of rain began. Reach, roll, reach, roll, reach, roll.

Fuck this let the night have the damn thing! I stood up straight preparing myself for the wrathful taunt of his scathing tongue, I was gonna verbally cop it for this one. I drop of rain spilt down my cheek pre-empting the tears that were likely to fall later. I took a deep breath in.

“Sin Chow, Xin chao” I looked across at an older grinning Vietnamese man holding the bucket he’d rescued out towards me. I gave a grateful smile and thanked him profusely, he patted my hands kindly as he looked over my man returning his gaze towards me. “Can than, can than.” I thanked him again as we continued on our journey. My boyfriend mocked him repeating “can than, can than,” embarrassed I turned to look back, he was intent on checking his crab nets.

Why all the way to the end? Can’t we just fish from here. The fish are everywhere beneath us, but no, once he decided on something, especially when drunk, there was no going back. We’re committed now. Head down, one foot after the other, the cold air off-of the ocean sobering me up,
lets just catch some fish and get off this thing.

‘What the fuck’ I looked up loosing balance and grabbing onto his arm which he pulled away from me in dismissal. Confused and hurt I looked at his angry face then the direction he was glaring towards. A tarpaulin shelter had been set up off centre of the end of the jetty blocking anyone else access to fish from one end. The whole T-junction was a private domain with their own private jetty. The rain was steady, I pulled the hood of my jacket further over head and hooked it over the stupid sun visor I still modelled. Great! Cede defeat and return to our tent’s I was chuffed. I didn’t want to cramp their style. Three men with cans in their hands spread out strategically staking their claim.

But no, he wasn’t going to be defeated, he’d come this far, he was gonna fish, at the end of the jetty and that was that. He led the way despite the hostile looks they gave us. We parked ourselves in a space between them. A fourth man stumbled laughing out of the man cubby with an unopen can in
hand spotting us he made his way towards us. Here we go.

He looked me up and down, I felt like some prize catch he was weighing up, ugh, he looked at my boyfriend and grinned. “Want one” my boyfriend, always an opportunist when it came to alcohol was happy to oblige.
“How bout you love?” “I’m right” I replied feeling that nervous anxiety in the pit of my gut. The small talk began as we set ourselves up rain falling randomly letting us know it wasn’t going away.

Pippi on the hook I cast into the inky darkness ignoring the men as they talked to him and looked me at me sideways. I felt like a lone tuna surrounded by sharks, my man was the chum. I tried lighting another smoke attempting to seek help from my distracted partner, one of the rotten toothed men cupped his fish smelling hands around my mouth grazing my lip, on purpose I’m sure, the lighter worked and my smoke kindled, I pulled away from his hands. ‘Thanks’ I mumbled. I looked towards my bloke to see if he’d witnessed any of that intimate interaction, he was oblivious as he checked out a shiny reel one of them were showing him. Useless. I was alone. I protected my smoke with my hand and puffed madly away staring into nothing but hypervigilant to every movement around me.

No bites and him three cans down. I was done. He was just revving up, the fishing forgotten in the haze of drunken male bonding. The wind was relentless and the rain consistently off and on. I was nervous about asking to head back, I know how he gets when he’s on a roll with his mates, even new ones but I’d had enough. We should head back, it’s cold’. ‘Nah we’re right’ ‘Have a drink love’ as a can was shoved into my hands ‘No thanks’ ‘Go on have it’ I was outnumbered 5 to 1 with my boyfriend leading the peer group pressure to stay and drink. I took the can and opened it feigning a sip, no point fighting.

The rain got steadier and the wind picked up. Surely, we’d trek home in the dark now. Nope they were inviting us into their lair. My body was riddled with fear, they were creepy, this was creepy, and my man was certainly not in any capable state of saving me if these goons tried anything on me.
My boyfriend behind me and the other men surrounding me shepherd me into the tarp smelly cavern. It reeked of beer, bourbon, vomit, stale cigarette smoke, body odour, urine, fish guts and rotting teeth. A flashlight blinded me, I tripped falling between bottles, cans and a stinky swag. “You right love? Make yourself comfy, She’s on your swag Pauly ya lucky bastard.” They laughed. Finally my boyfriend sensed that something was amiss and fell beside me, claiming ownership of me, he groped me and kissed me with force and messiness. I pushed him away with a false laugh thinking up an escape plan. A man sat on my other side; Pauly I’m presuming. He sat too close.

I looked around me, where they were placed and where the exit flap was memorising it. Pauly pulled out a tin with the pungent smell of buds wafting up into my nostrils. He packed me a cone and shoved it at me. ‘Thanks’ I took a quick obligatory toke and passed it to my man, he was already to gone to be much help to me now.

The talking, leering, drinking and laughing continued as I edged myself further and further away from them all getting closer to our belongings and closer to the exit. The rain poured down sagging the roof, the wind making an eerie whistling howl through the gaps in the jetty and tarp. I was spooked. Making out I was fishing I baited my hook and set up in front of the half open gap casting my line out keeping the men in the corner of my vision. Let them talk. I felt shark eyes on me… I was their prey, they were circling, my man’s head was nodding up and down onto his chest. I could feel their cold eyes on me.

One of the men came crawling my way with slurred words of groom and sleaziness. My insides were frozen. My boyfriend tipped over releasing a resounding snore like a bolt of energy coursed through me. I grabbed one of the eskies and pushed it towards him blocking his pathway to me and the exit. I had to flee. I jumped up yelling over my shoulder ‘just gonna take a piss’ an arm grabbed my leg pulling me down. I grabbed the top of the tarp to try and hold me up bringing down the roof and all the water pooled in it. I was soaked and so were they. Swearing and yelling they struggled in the
mess, I couldn’t hear my man’s voice amongst the rage. Blind pass out drunk. I untangled myself and leapt forward sliding as I attempted to sprint Cathy Freeman style away the bucket handle somehow in my hand. A man stood up from the mess ‘fucken bitch’. The water from the rain blinded me I ran straight into a body. Oh no!

The man behind tried grabbing me, the owner of the body pushed me, the momentum forcing me to move my legs towards the shore and safety.

I heard ‘Xin chao, Xin chao’ behind me. The Old Vietnamese man. He blocked my pursuers path. I kept running.

The rain was coming down hard, the wind behind my back forcing me away from the predators. Away from my saviour. Would they be alright. I kept going too scared to look back.

I finally reached earth panting and sweating. I looked back at the empty jetty. I hadn’t passed another soul on my sprint to freedom and safety.

I hoped the Old Vietnamese man was okay.

My boyfriend…

He’ll be right. Or not. I didn’t care.

I pulled my mini mag light out of my pocket and made my way through the quiet wet campsites back to our tent.

Safe-haven. I made it, unzipped the flaps, stepped in, threw my bucket in the corner, zipped back up and clambered into the opposite corner shoes on and pulled the quilts and sleeping bag over me shivering. I was too weak and scared to undress. I fell into a deep sleep.

I woke to the faltering drunken attempts of the tent being open. It was light outside. “Hey baby” he mumbled at me as he staggered in heeling off his shoes. He wriggled in under the blankets to my warmth bringing in all the wet, cold and darkness with him. He snuggled into me. I was frozen. To
exhausted to fight him off. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

Alexis West
© 2019

Transit of Venus (false gods)
by Jazz Money

a vessel to follow a goddess
stinking boards and mouths with rot
floggings of one in five
odds are high
to never set foot upon sand soil loam
and yet
as though by god given grace
that ship through storms
more stars to follow
as disease to the pearly flesh
that tears through the idle
idyllic isle
it’s all green cast ashore
a paradise of course
20 miles across and the time so vast
yet square white clouds
a waking nightmare come real with brass buckles
telescopes and fine shining lenses
here yes that goddess promise of
love beauty sex desire
emerges from a grand clam shell
the cries of her kind hidden in night
but fertility with sickness
that plants a deep seed
does venus only love a white woman

a small black spot and the three pointed hat
failed to quantify the stars
a false transit
but in the small scrawl footnote
stamp and seal with crown
another goddess is promised
hidden lands to scorch and claim
terra australis incognita
what lead to the goddesses of your skies
to guide by night to this shore
our stars speak of all time
they wake in the east and chase a sky long
here, the whole world is enough
venus goddess of war
whose brand of love brings fire
steel poison and flag pole
brunt again soft skulls
sailing forth
boiling water deep underground

the reef is a fertile loving expanse
graciousness looks like calcification
a million pulsing polyps
no soft white cheek and glittering advancement
a furthering endeavour
snatching hands collect seeds and grains
rope and basket
a never forgotten
foul ship first theft
and promise of an empty land
cook was unsure down to the forty-second second
and no crown could own the size of the sky
but a transit
the end of many worlds
the first ghosts of a pox ridden army
landing upon shell shores
great britannia
transit for glory
without a captured star
but poles that grow from greed
flag of strange relation
to end the world
and a great hungry mother
guiding to destruction
venus was a traitor to the south

Our Protests for Our People
by Luana Towney

It’s our culture not a costume,
We can’t take it off at the end of the day,
When we’re sick of playin the part,
What else can I say…

Blackface just aint right,
White people been making fun of
Our traditional skin,
They can wash that colour off,
Then for them it’s alright.

They took the children away,
Assimilate them, breed out their colour,
Bit of luck,
They’ll be acting white at the end of the day.

Stop black deaths in custody,
Been locking up our people,
and killing them continually.

Change the fucking date
It’s the day they changed our fate,
Stole, took, killed, raped, claimed terra nullius
Ain’t no day to celebrate.

From little things big things grow,
One person can rise up,
And change the future,
By being strong and brave against their foe.

Treaty, Yea!
The way to move forward
Show us respect and dignity,
Walk with us, talk with us,
Show us you care.

Stand up and be counted,
Don’t shy away,
Stand strong and tall at the end of the day.

It don’t matter if you’re black or white,
Do the right thing and fight for our rights!

FNAWN Membership

| 30 Sep 2019

Membership is open to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander storytellers, writers, poets, playwrights and editors.

To be eligible for membership, you need to be able to provide proof that you are:
a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which they live.

In the application form, you will also be asked about your writing, and to provide a short biography.

Please download and save the below form before filling it in.

Once completed, please email the form and required attachments to chairperson @ fnawn.com

The Board will discuss your application at the next FNAWN meeting, and contact you shortly after.

Media release

| 13 Jul 2019

Saturday 13th July, 2019

It is with immense great sadness and our deepest sorrow that we announce the passing of our life-long patron, co-founder of FNAWN, inaugural Chairperson of FNAWN, tireless advocate and true “Kuracca Warrior” ~ our most beloved Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert.

Aunty Kerry, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, Aunty, cousin, and a true friend to so many from across the nations passed away in Canberra in the early hours, 13th July. Aunty Kerry was comforted and surrounded by her beloved family.

On behalf of the Executive Board of FNAWN, our Members, and our allied writers networks throughout the A.C.T and Australia, FNAWN would like to extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to her daughters, family members of the Reeds and Gilberts, their children and their families.

As our FNAWN family mourn the grief and loss of our beloved literary matriarch we stand united, saddened by our nations’ incomprehensible loss.

Vale Aunty Kerry – may the wings of your Kuracca crest soar high. You are so loved and will be so sadly missed. Forever in our hearts.

FNAWN will update in the coming days with further notices to be announced.

In Unity & Strength

Yvette Holt & The Executive Board FNAWN

Vale Aunty Kerry

Five Books by First Nations Writers

| 02 Mar 2019

By Karen Wyld

Originally published on Indigenous X 29 August 2018

Over seventy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers, poets and playwrights recently gathered in Canberra. From 23 to 26 August 2018, this third national gathering presented by First Nations Writers Network (FNAWN) provided spaces for writers to talk craft and aspirations

The workshop theme Sovereign People: Sovereign Stories was apt, given many First Nations writers use story to highlight issues of relevance to their communities – from recent times, right back to the invasion – and to imagine a fairer future.

FNAWN also co-presented an inspiring evening with Canberra Writers Festival at the National Library of Australia on 25 Augusts. Introduced by Chella Goldwin from Us Mob Writing, poets Ellen van Neervan, Charmaine Papertalk Green, Jeanine Leane and Yvette Holt read poems in response to the NAIDOC 2018 theme Because of Her We Can.

This was followed by a panel discussion hosted by Cathie Craigie with Alexis Wright (via Skype), Kim Scott and Melissa Lucashenko, on the theme Sovereign People: Sovereign Stories.

Observing new writers talking passionately at the FNAWN workshop with some of Australia’s most awarded writers, it’s evident that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers have established themselves as an unstoppable force within Australian literature.

To present a complete list of publications by the writers that attended the FNAWN workshop would be a daunting task. Instead, I have compiled a short list of recent books by a few of the presenters.


Kim Scott is a Noongar man from Western Australia and an established writer of much esteem. Kim is Chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project and Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.

He has been shortlisted for three Miles Franklin Awards, and the recipient of two. Taboo, Kim’s fourth book, was the recipient of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Book of the Year and Indigenous Writers Prize.

Taboo explores facing up to the past, no matter how difficult that might be. Set in rural south-west WA, it tells the story of a group of Wirlomin Noongar people who revisit a massacre site after many generations. They have been invited by the elderly owner of the farm on which the colonial violence occurred, who wishes to fulfil his wife’s dying wish for reconciliation.

Parts of the story are brutal, overlapping past violence with a current generation that is dealing with racism, abuse, addiction and incarceration. This is balanced with language revival, reconnecting with land, decolonisation, and a sense of hope.

In reviewing Taboo, Melissa Lucashenko stated “This is a complex, thoughtful and exceptionally generous offering by a master storyteller at the top of his game.”


Alexis Wright, a Waanyi woman, is an award-winning writer from Queensland. A past recipient of the Miles Franklin, Victoria and Queensland Premiers’ Literary Awards, Alexis Wright’s latest book, Tracker, was awarded the 2018 Stella Prize and 2018 Magarey Medal.

She is currently the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.

Tracker is a biography of Tracker Tilmouth, an Aboriginal activist and visionary who passed away in 2015.


Melissa Lucashenko, a Goorie writer, has set her latest novel on Bundjalung country in New South Wales. Melissa was awarded the 2016 CAL Fellowship to work on Too Much Lip.

Melissa is the past recipient of the Deloitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the Victorian Premiers Prize for Indigenous Writing. She is also a Walkley Award winner for non-fiction.

Released in August 2018, Too Much Lip has already received strong reviews. Melissa’s sense of humour and intellect shines though in this modern story, as does hidden histories. Melissa has said that she felt as if her great-grandmother was her muse throughout the writing of this novel.

The protagonist Kerry Salter returns home on a stolen motorbike to pay her respects to her grandfather, who is dying. Amongst the drama of family dysfunction and Kerry’s attraction to an outsider, there is the fight for the Salter’s ancestral lands.


Charmaine Papertalk Green is a Wajarra, Badimaya and Yamaji woman from Western Australia. A visual and installation artist, Charmaine has been writing poetry since the 1970s.

False Claims of Colonial Thieves is a collaboration between Charmaine and John Kinsella, a well-known Western Australian poet. This book of poetry explores identity, colonisation, politics, hope and country by weaving together the voices of a Yamaji and non-Indigenous writer.

Sorry Day by Dub Leffler and Coral Vass

Dub Leffler, a descendant of the Bigambul people of south-west Queensland, is a writer and illustrator of children’s literature. His award-winning books are sold internationally. He has written two books and illustrated 23.

Sorry Day was developed with Melbourne-based children’s writer Coral Vass. Through entwining two stories, the book highlights the importance of the Apology to the Stolen Generations – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed under past government policies. Sorry Day is suitable for readers aged 5+ and is suitable for starting discussions about Australian history.

Writing as a Sovereign Act

| 02 Mar 2019

Melissa Lucashenko

Edited version of the Keynote Address to the First Nations Australia Writers Network national workshop, Canberra, August 2018. First published in Meanjin Quarterly Summer 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

1. early 14c., ‘great, superior, supreme’, from Old French soverain ‘highest, supreme, chief’, from Vulgar Latin *superanus ‘chief, principal’ (source also of Spanish soberano, Italian soprano), from Latin super ‘over’

2. of remedies of medicines, ‘potent in high degree’

We talk about sovereignty a lot. We demand it be recognised and we have it on our T-shirts and so forth. But what is it really?

If you trace it back far enough you get to a Latin root, super, meaning ‘over’. So sovereignty in the English language really means being on top. Being the one with the power. ‘Highest, supreme or chief.’ Pretty easy concept. You look at the Queen of England and of Australia. She’s the one on all the coins. If we leave out old Grandfather Unaipon on the 50 dollar note, and Gwoya Jungarai on the two dollar coin, it’s not you or me on most of the currency—it’s Lizzie Windsor, corgi owner and world champion at being the recipient of stolen goods. The sovereign. Maybe in the legal sense it’s something different, but that’s where sovereignty comes from originally anyway, this idea of being on top.

It’s an interesting question. What goes on in someone’s head to make them think they are inherently better than someone else? And what does that kind of thinking do to the person? How did the rest of the Poms come to agree to this ridiculous idea? It’s a funny thing to think about for a blackfella, this idea that some person is inherently better than another person. It’s like someone jumping up and saying they’ve got two brains or something. Or that their blood is better than somebody else’s blood. Crazy.

Speaking of good and bad blood, there is also that famous story about the royal family and their treatment of the epileptic son of King George III. About them hiding the young Prince John away in the attic, frightened and ashamed of him for having a perceived weakness. The kid was severely epileptic and possibly autistic as well, and, so the story goes, he was hidden away from the world. Terrible. Fancy hiding your own family away, and on top of that parading around making out you are better than everybody else, too. ‘You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.’ Well apparently you can pick your family if you want to run the British Empire.

I think that story says something wider about the drive in modern Western cultures to be gammon. Because no human is intrinsically superior to anybody else of course—we are all simply products of our environments, and all human with the physical strengths and weaknesses that go with being human. And in order to be perceived as above every-body else in competitive societies requires pretending. That level of bullshit is inbuilt into hierarchical cultures, unlike classical Aboriginal culture, which is non-hierarchical except in respect to knowledge.

And this story of the hidden cousin also demonstrates the tendency in hierarchical cultures to hide away what’s perceived as shameful, or to project it onto others—other individuals, other nations. Blackfellas know all about that. This country’s done that to us for so long. The British called us primitive and savage when they came to our civilisations, our mostly peaceful continent, and then they made savage war and terror here. Came and kicked the heads off our little ones and said we were brutes. Stole our land holus bolus—and called us thieves. Raped our women and our kids on a mass scale, and called us violators. Built a convict colony that literally used rum as the currency, and went on to call us drunks and criminals. Freud would have a field day with this place. There’s enough material here for an entire conference. Of course those lies about the nature of classical Aboriginal society served a purpose then, just as they serve a purpose now, which is to distract. To take attention away from the big crimes: the genocide of a people and the theft of a continent.

Hitler’s minister of propaganda Goebbels said, ‘If you’re going to tell a lie, make it a big one.’ And that’s the basis of British sovereignty in this country. A very big lie. A very big false story about who we were, who we are and what happened here and is still happening here. The story of sovereignty for the British Crown. The story was edited a little bit in 1967, and in 1994 with the Mabo decision and later on with the Wik decision, but the fundamentals of the story really haven’t changed much. We didn’t deserve the continent, the story goes and the British, who did deserve it by virtue of military might, came and took it and it’s a done deal. That’s the story we hear over and over again, of British sovereignty.

So that’s what sovereignty is in London (and in the Australian constitution, I suppose), but what’s it mean for blackfellas? I’ve been reading Alexis Wright’s wonderful book Tracker, and in that book Tracker Tilmouth talks about his relationship with an old Central Desert law man. And that law man, Tracker’s kinship grandfather from memory, always used to go around telling his mob, ‘I’m your Government. I’m your President.’ He was a senior man who knew all about sovereignty, about being the Boss for his country. Tracker also talks about being educated a lot by an old lady called Bess, too, who knew all the women’s sacred stories for that country.

And I remembered, reading Tracker, that I’d seen footage in a film about rock art of an old man from northern Queensland I think, born in the colonial era, whose English name was Government. That was the main thing I remember from the film—that this old fella’s name was Government. Not in the facetious, racist way that some of our old people were named Hitler or Mussolini by the invaders, but in a real way, I think. A meaningful way. What I’m getting at is that although Aboriginal Law deliberately shares power out among individuals and groups, there is always a very clear sense of authority residing there at the heart. Sovereignty. Running our own affairs. Not ceding power to whitefellas. And a pride in doing so, a knowledge that we have that right.

I read a wonderful story on the Conversation the other day—well, only wonderful in some ways—written up by Liz Conor of two Noongah boys being taken to Europe by some missionary or another in the mid nineteenth century, and they are talking to the Italian priest who took them over there to prove that Aboriginal people could be made into good little white boys. They were in Paris, watching French Republicans battling in the street below them with the French authorities, and they asked the priest why he didn’t intervene to stop the violence. They even offered to help him do so. The priest said but it isn’t my country and I don’t know these people, and these brave and wise Aboriginal children said:

That doesn’t matter. You don’t belong to my country either, and you didn’t know the natives, but when they were getting ready to fight or had started, you went in among them, took their gidjis … and it was all over. Why don’t you do the same here?

And Conor reports that the priest wrote in his diary that he was left speechless, because they were right. There was no difference at all between the sovereignty and Law those young Noongah boys asserted and the sovereignty and law of the French people in their European capital.

So what’s writing got to do with all this? It’s complicated. One critical question is, how do we exert sovereignty as Aboriginal people in the modern era, through telling modern stories? We need to keep in mind that the sovereignty of Aboriginal Law comes from stories and songlines that can’t usually be told publicly, and aren’t even known by many of us. Some of us know them, and a lot of us don’t. I know a little bit, have been shown a few snippets here and there. So the first question becomes—if we don’t have those ancient structures in our community organisations, and we don’t enjoy those cultural privileges—the first question becomes one of asserting our sovereignty as modern Aboriginal people.

To talk in this way you need to believe that ordinary stories that aren’t old Law stories have power. And they most certainly do. The most powerful stories outside Law stories are the ones that hide inside our own heads and pretend they aren’t stories at all. We need to learn to distinguish better between fiction and reality; between, as my young niece Ellen van Neerven knows, honey and the names for honey.

It can be hard sometimes to reflect that the stories about us, told by Australia, are so harmful and so dangerous to us. But the other side of that coin is that only something very powerful can be so harmful, and if we can just hold the line, wrest back some control over the stories told about us, and replace them with our own, then we can exert power too. We can reshape the ideas of what it is to be Aboriginal.

We can exert power not only over the national story or the regional story, but also over the stories we tell each other around the kitchen table. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are as Aboriginal people, and what we are doing here, about who we can be and who we once were, about the great gifts of Aboriginal science and psychology and sociology that the world needs to face the challenges of climate change.

It’s an interesting question whether Australians will ever stop fantasising about us and deciding that it’s critically important to world history that they tell their stories about us, whom they dispossessed and murdered and now want to pity or exploit on the page. Some days you can only laugh. As Uncle Charlie Perkins once memorably said to some white ignoramus, ‘Mate, you know about as much about Aboriginal people as you do about flying backwards to the moon.’ Whenever I’m in despair I think about that strength he had just to confront people with their vast and damaging ignorance, and I laugh, and I keep on going.

So maybe one day whitefellas will stop writing rubbish about us and maybe they won’t. We must continue to insist that we are the sole owners of our own traditional stories and the authors of our own lives. And we must be vigilant about what we allow into our consciousness, and what we recognise as the Very Big Lie of colonisation.

I said when I published Mullumbimby back in 2015 that I wanted to write a story in which blackfellas had four things: Beauty, Power, Humour and Land. I think that if we have all those things and recognise that we have them, we are well positioned to start leading the Good Life. And although in my latest book, Too Much Lip, I look at some of the trauma arising directly from colonisation, and I paint a much less rosy picture of one black family, I still had in my mind that we should have those four elements: Beauty, Power, Humour and Land. Even in the midst of the trauma, we should have those things on the page, or be working towards them. That’s why I never kill off Black characters prematurely—the myth of the dying race is too strong, too powerful. We need to be alive on the page. We need to be fighting, and standing strong. We need to remember what allowed us to build the very first civilisation on this planet, our intelligence, our beauty and our pride in ourselves.

I’ve kind of drifted into a second question, which is, what is the writer’s job in these times? These times where the words ‘final solution’ and ‘White Australia policy’ can be uttered without shame in the Australian Parliament, and members of the Australian cabinet can shake the hand of the man who uttered them. Holding hands with a race-baiter and neofascist. These times when 100 per cent of the children locked in jail in the Northern Territory are black. Times when our widespread poverty and our political plight barely raise an eyebrow; because the story of the Aborigine as successful citizen, as a brilliant inventor or researcher or scientist or negotiator is not yet imagined, let alone widely known.

These are times when innocent refugees fleeing wars partly of Australia’s making are imprisoned offshore in contravention of international law, because there’s votes in it. Times when we really have to hang on to our Ancestors’ example, and remember the Ngarangaeta Baraks, the David Unaipons, the Uncle William Coopers and the Charlie Perkins and Tracker Tilmouths and Bowman Johnsons and Willy McKenzies and Oodgeroo Noonuccals and Aunty Essie Coffeys and the Mum Shirls and Maureen Watsons and Ysola Bests.

We need to remember Barak walking 60 miles into Naarm on a broken ankle to assert his leadership of the Wurundjeri nation. We need to keep in our minds Uncle William Cooper, the only private individual on the planet to protest the acts of German Nazis, including civilians, on Kristallnacht in 1938. Remember the way that our people came together in the 1970s, facing racist violence from the Queensland police at the Commonwealth Games protests in 1982, and the giant march of 1988 when tens of thousands including many white supporters rallied for recognition on Eora land. Remember how hard they did it, and how staunch our mob were, and draw strength from their strength.

What’s a writer to do? How do we transmit that strength to our readers and ourselves? Well there’s a number of ways. We can look to the greats of Black and Indigenous literature around the world. In my study at home I’ve got a number of objects that serve that purpose. One is a quote from the great revolutionary Black and queer writer James Baldwin, who said in the language of his times, ‘Freedom is not something that anyone can be given. Freedom is something you take, and every man is as free as he wants to be.’

I also have chalked on the wall in front of where I write something said by Murrawah Johnson, a young activist in Meanjin Brisbane, a spokeswoman for the Wangan and Jangilou people against the Adani mine. She was talking about the deep psychic and spiritual connections between us mob and our land, and the gendered impact of mining sacred country when she told a Brisbane meeting some time ago that ‘The womb is our first country.’

And there’s the music of Uncle Archie Roach, and of Uncle Kev Carmody and Uncle Roger Knox, which supports a lot of my writing and pondering and imagining. The poetry of Romaine Morton and Ali Cobby Eckermann, and sister Natalie Harkin and Uncle Tony Birch and many, many other First Nation poets. The wonderful writing of the First Nations of Turtle Island and Aotearoa. Too many to mention, many to draw upon for sustenance and to use as powerful medicine bundles in our hours of need.

I think back on my life of reading and there are three moments that stand out. (Well, there are lots that stand out, but I’m going to mention three …) I remember the first time I read a book as a child of about 13 and it mentioned the Brisbane suburb of Acacia Ridge, a place I had been to. And I realised at that moment with a physical shock—I can still remember the wonder of that feeling today—that books could be about the real world I lived in. They didn’t have to be about England or America, or some part of the Australian south where I’d never walked. Miraculously, books could be about my world, too.

I also remember being told about a novel called The Bone People in my early twenties. It’s by a Maori author, Keri Hulme, and I recall the chills that ran up and down my spine when I got past the first difficult and confusing pages into the heart of the story, and realised what artistry and wonder this First Nations writer had wrought. It’s a book about identity and belonging and trauma and country and disability and the dignity of the child. Hulme says in the front of the novel that she almost embalmed it in a block of amber, when she couldn’t find a publisher anywhere in New Zealand who would believe in the book or who could even understand it. Publishers said things like, ‘There is no doubt that Miss Hulme can write but unfortunately we don’t understand what she is writing about …’ Thank God she didn’t embalm her masterpiece, which went on, for what it’s worth, to win the Booker Prize for literature. How much poorer the world of writing would be without The Bone People. How much poorer our ideas of indigeneity and sovereignty would be.

And third, I remember watching Alexis Wright speaking at QUT in Meanjin Brisbane about a decade ago, and urging us with the grit and sincerity that are the constant hallmarks of her work, to cultivate the sovereignty of our minds. To ask what it is to be sovereign in our thinking as Aboriginal people. And feeling that shock of recognition once again: to be struck, again, that here is an idea that I needed to be introduced to. Here is an idea that feeds my soul. It’s related to, but different from, the urging of Bob Marley, who sang to Black people all over the world: emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.

What is it, this sovereignty of the mind? How do we cultivate it, and what’s the point? I was watching a documentary on SBS On Demand recently, Putuparri and the Rainmakers. It’s about a man from the Kimberley, and about how he went bush with his elders, an old man called Spider and an old lady called Dolly. Spider was the boss for a sacred site called Kurtu. And it was six hours drive from Fitzroy Crossing, very remote, very inaccessible even in LandCruisers. I think it had been something like 40 years since the family had been back to their country. They had been forced away into the town, and they didn’t know if the site was still okay or not, if the power was alive in it.

The younger bloke was driving down this terrible, potholed road, and old Spider told him oh no, no, don’t go down this road, no. He had to go this way instead, cross-country where there was no road at all. And the young bloke was standing there with an axe and just oh, looking at all these saplings he’d have to chop out to go that way, and he was arguing with Spider. And Spider just stood and insisted that this hard, difficult track was the right track. He said: ‘I know this country. I been hunting all around this country for years when I was young.’

And I thought, well that’s it. That’s the sovereignty of the mind, to have confidence in your own knowledge and ability and direction after being away for 40 years and insisting that you be listened to on such matters. Because you are the one who knows. You are the expert on your life.

Our songman Uncle Kev Carmody knows it. He embodies it in his work and he sang it of Vincent Lingiari in the line ‘He knows where he stands, he stands in his Law’.

Historically we cared for all and everything in this place. The British invasion tried to destroy that philosophy of great and tender care. Tried to wipe the culture out. The result, which they pretend is something called civilisation, is in fact suffering, ours and theirs. Sometimes we forget that we are all connected in a giant, intricate web of belonging. We had the world wide web a long time before the internet was invented. We lived in it, we breathed and loved and birthed and died in a world wide web of connected life. We still do, it’s just that we are mostly unaware of this. Vulture capitalism relies on us being unaware of it, or ignoring it, or pretending it doesn’t matter when we mine sacred waterways and raise the water table, and emit the carbon that’s going to drown many of the world’s coastal cities and damage other life forms in the pursuit of short-term profits. It is the logic of capitalism and of so-called civilisation that we lock children up on Manus Island or in jails all over Australia, and pretend that we aren’t doing fundamental damage to our own society in the process.

So there’s a heavy responsibility on us as storytellers in this time not to beat around the bush. To talk straight about what matters, as sister Anita Heiss has urged us in her PhD thesis. And we can be poetic and we can be lyrical and we sure as hell need to be entertaining, because you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. But we have to look first at what’s really going on. That’s the job of the artist—to try and see what others are refusing to see, and make it visible in a different way. Or as Tony Albert has it in his wonderful installation, ‘pay attention, motherfuckers’.

There is more scope today to tell our stories than there was when I was a child. Because of the Mabo decision, Australia has decided that it’s okay to have some Aboriginal people living around the place now, because they really believe, most of them, that the unfinished business of genocide and massacres and land and so on is settled. So some of our stories are now being listened to. Our activists have made sure with their centuries of great effort that we can now turn on the TV and have NITV there with black voices and black faces. And some of our stories are reaching the mainstream and reaching the classrooms and lounge rooms of the nation. These are not gains to be sneezed at, and we need to remember to congratulate ourselves for making this change. We need to celebrate how far we have managed to climb, uphill, bearing the heavy loads of racism and low expectations. We should be cheering each other on every single day—Every Secret Thing! YES! The Sapphires! YES. Dark Emu! YES. The Gods of Wheat Street! YES! Calypso Summer! YES! Redfern Now! YES! Terra Nullius YES! Taboo YES! Broken Teeth! YES. Mystery Road! YES. Tiddas! YES!

And the stories of the stolen generations are being heard now, too. These often aren’t sexy stories. They aren’t normally the yarns of painted up warriors or smiling sports-people that Australia craves. These are our stories of surviving genocide, of coming back from the brink, and they need to be told and they need to be heard. It’s critically important, too, though, that our stolen-gen stories don’t come to overshadow the stories of those who remained. We must, and I include myself in this category, we must be sure not to return to the fold of Black Australia writing at the expense of those who remained on country and kept on going. We all have trauma as First Nations people. It’s not as if only half of us were invaded, only the stolen and displaced mob, or only those who stayed on country—we all were.

We have all been colonised, we all have damaged country and damaged spirits, and we must engage together in the work of decolonisation. For mob who never left country, who have struggled all their lives with the dangers as well as the privileges of growing up Black, I urge you to keep an open mind about what was done to those who were removed or displaced, and taught to hate or even fear their own people. Raised in shame, as the song says. I urge you not to compound that shame with lateral violence. And for my fellow Murries, Goories, Koories, Nungas, Noongahs, Bama and Yolngu, who have been separated from our mobs and our countries, let us always be very careful about whom we try to speak for, and how.

Let us not become a new class of oppressor, jumping in to talk when others more connected to country have not yet been heard. Let’s be mindful that there are proper ways of speaking, and acting, as blackfellas, and to never please the white man at the expense of our own mobs, no matter how strong the temptation might be. Not that that temptation is only limited to stolen or removed mob, of course. Anybody, from any situation, can allow themselves to be seduced by power. If we stick to the tenets of our old people, though, we will walk a straight path. And displaced mob need to be mindful of those tenets.

I spoke at the beginning about the white ideas of sovereignty, about the Queen of England, and of being on top. Sister Ali Cobby Eckerman writes metaphorically in her brilliant poem ‘Circles and Square’ about the square imposed by white Australia, which sits within her and ‘stops her in her entirety’. It’s a beautiful poem, and an important one. As I read this poem regularly, I remember that our diverse Aboriginal cultures are all built on philosophies of the whole, of the circle Ali speaks of. That we grow and learn as First Nations on this fragile round planet and we grow and learn by orbiting from Dreaming track to Dreaming track, from family home to family home, from Black Elder to Black Elder. From black heart to black heart, on our journey through this Indigenous life, which for many is a journey back to Aboriginality that has been stolen or taken or denied.

And I think about the way some of our stolen mob still can’t find their way home, and the heartbreak that means for every single individual, and the loss each of those people represents to our nations. And I think, too, about the British royal family. I sit and wonder about them hiding that epileptic cousin away in the attic for decades, ashamed and cold-hearted and cruel, and I think, I hope we never become that disconnected from our humanity. Let’s rejoice in the wholeness of our families, and be careful to focus on what we have in common as First People, not what has been created to divide us from one another. Let’s practise what our Law tells us, and let’s keep going with the project we have as Black writers—to pay attention to what’s going on, to talk straight about our lives, and to remember to celebrate our beauty, our humour, our power, and most of all our land. •

Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award-winning Bundjalung novelist from Brisbane. She is a Walkley Award winner for her nonfiction writing and a founding member of human rights group Sisters Inside.


| 17 Oct 2017

This week, a poem from acclaimed writer Ellen van Neerven’s collection, Comfort Food (UQP 2016) appeared on the NSW HSC English exam. Ms van Neerven is a valued member of First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN), and one of our youngest. As a member-based network we support First Nations poets, writers, and storytellers, and we collaborate with writing, publishing, and education sectors to promote First Nations literature.

FNAWN commends NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for the inclusion of First Nations literature in the 2017 NSW Higher School Certificate English Paper 1. Embedding the works of writers and storytellers who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander within school curriculum promotes Australian literature, and provides students with an opportunity to develop a greater awareness of First Nations histories, cultures, and stories.

In this instance, we are aware that some 2017 NSW HSC students read the inclusion of Ms van Neerven’s poem as a red flag to target, troll, and abuse her online. FNAWN strongly condemns this online abuse, and recognises those students who attempted to combat this abuse from their peers.

The Daily Mail UK reports that “After the exam finished many students descended on the author with vile taunts”. FNAWN knows that NSW HSC students sent messages, many of which were of an abusive nature, to the author via Facebook personal messaging, Twitter direct messages, E-mails, and other forms of personal communication. Students also maliciously altered Ms van Neerven’s Wikipedia page, centring themselves into the content.

Some students also attacked other Australian writers and supporters who felt compelled to reject the online abuse. Hundreds of accounts engaged in this online abuse towards Ms van Neerven, abuse came from apparently fake profiles, and some abusers hastily deleted their disgraceful content. We know that at least one young writer who stood up against the trolling was subjected to abuse that contained sexual harassment.

At a time when students are finishing their high school education, ready to venture out to achieve their aspirations, this online abuse sours a milestone for many. FNAWN acknowledges that not all the students commenting on the poem were aware of the extent and nature of the online bullying. We also think it’s possible that not all of the account-holders who abused Ms van Neerven and supporters were NSW HSC students.

Ms van Neerven is an acclaimed young writer, she generously mentors other young writers, and is widely invited to speak at mainstream Australian writers festivals. According to the NESA, exam questions for Ms van Neerven’s poem from her collection, Comfort Food (UQP 2016), were set by experienced English teachers.

FNAWN is committed to supporting writers who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, and to promoting their works to trade and education markets. This shocking online abuse of one of our youngest members deeply hurts our membership and our community. We open our door to NSW and other educational jurisdictions who seek to understand and to mitigate against such vile response to First Nations literature finding its rightful home in our curricula.

First Nations Australia Writers Network

FNAWN Chair dons wings

| 18 Sep 2017

Dr Sandra Phillips, FNAWN Chairperson, has been busy promoting FNAWN and its membership, as well as other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers. Below is just some of the activities that Dr Phillips has participated, or led, in the past few months.

Tiddas Tour Tokyo

In July, Dr Phillips flew to Tokyo with fellow FNAWN member Dr Anita Heiss, where they presented workshops and a lecture at Musashino University (MU).

Dr Sandra Phillips and Dr Anita Heiss at MU, Tokyo July 2017

At the invitation of MU and Professor of Political Science, Sensei Professor Donna Weeks, Dr Phillips and Dr Heiss delivered Writing and Reading Aboriginal Australia workshops with MU Global Business Students, and presented a public lecture to the MU and wider community of scholars and writers.

The workshop and lecture were well received, with a strong interest shown in First Nations writers and their works. Dr Phillips and Dr Heiss’ appearances topped MU Social for the time that they were at the university.

Angel’s Palace

Dr Phillips made many appearances at the recent Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF), including in the beautiful Angel’s Palace. This large dome was inspired by Alexis Wright’s Miles Franklin award-winning novel Carpentaria.

Angel’s Palace. Artwork by Gordon Hookey. Image by Mick Richards

“She thought the dump was magnificent, as anyone dirt poor would. The way she talked you would have thought she was a very rich woman, and it was nothing for her to walk back and forth to the dump two dozen times a day to cart back pieces of sheet iron, jerry cans, bits of car bodies, pieces of rope, logs, plastic, discarded curtain and old clothing … until she ended up with an igloo made of rubbish.” Alexis Wright, ‘Carpentaria’

In collaboration with Aboriginal artist Gordon Hookey, this unique venue space was created. It was the home of many First Nations performances, panels and speakers throughout the Festival. This venue was commissioned by first-time UPLIT Ceo and BWF Artistic Director Zoe Pollock. Within Angel’s Palace, a 26-minute performance of Carpentaria took place, scripted by Alethea Beetson (Artistic Direcor of DigiYouthArts) and performed by Paula Nazarski, Tibian Wyles and Lenny Donahue.

Dr Phillips chaired the advisory panel for Angel’s Palace at BWF. She presented and/or hosted a few sessions in this special space, including a conversation with Alexis Wright, one of FNAWN’s most established writers.

The Building Angel’s Palace session at the festival, featuring Alexis Wright and Gordon Hookey, included another FNAWN member – Rhianna Patrick.

Dr Phillips hosted and/or contributed to many panels and sessions at other locations during BWF. Including at Kuril Dhagun, State Library of Queensland (SLQ), which presented sessions with First Nations speakers during BWF.

Onwards and Upwards

After Angel’s Palace, Dr Phillips came back down to earth for the 8th Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) National Editors Conference. There she provided a presentation with Grace Lucas-Pennington, which included a discussion on editing literature with First Nations cultural content, and the invaluable the black&write! program of the State Library of Queensland.

And with the flurry of the last few months coming to a end, FNAWN Chair and Board will be looking at further opportunities to promote members and First Nations literature. As well as strategic planning for FNAWNs future, which includes securing funding. So, as always, its onwards and upwards.

Joy Harjo’s Australian workshop of First Nations writers

| 18 Sep 2017
FNAWN Board member Sharon Mununggurr recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Joy Harjo, at the Henderson Gallery in Brisbane.
Sharon has provided this summary of the workshop:

Joy Harjo

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Joy Harjo is an internationally known poet, writer, performer and saxophone player of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Harjo is often cited as playing a formidable role in the second wave of the Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century.

Harjo’s eight books of poetry include such well-known titles as How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems and She Had Some Horses. Her newest collection, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), short-listed for the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize, is hailed by Yusef Komunyakaa as ‘a marvelous instrument that veins through a dark lode of American history’.

Her memoir Crazy Brave (2012) won several awards, including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the American Book Award. Recently, Harjo was awarded the prestigious Ruth Lilley Prize, bestowed on a living American poet for outstanding lifetime accomplishments.

I attended the Indigenous Writers Workshop on August 12th . There was a small group of Indigenous Writers, and we were really fortunate as with the smaller group Joy shared not only her poetry and musical skills but also shared some personal stories that she said she had never shared before. All workshop participants wrote a piece and then shared with the intimate group, and received feedback from Joy – which was an honour.

We were also honoured to have Dawn Daylight play guitar and sing as a gift to the group and Joy. It was an emotional workshop and I was really humbled to participate and represent FNAWN.

Participants of the Indigenous writers workshop with Joy Harjo, Brisbane, Augusts 2017


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