A collection of essays by Professor Anita Heiss that assist readers to better understand the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and publishing on Australia’s literary landscape.
Click here to go to The BlackWords Essays.
Professor Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri nation of central New South Wales and is one of Australia’s most prolific and well-known authors of Aboriginal literature. Anita is a tireless advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and has been involved in AustLit's BlackWords project since its inception in 2006.
Read also Dr Jeanine Leane's essay 'Teaching with BlackWords'
In late 2013 Professor Anita Heiss sent a series of questions to contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers.
The responses she received are at times funny, sad, moving, and always deeply insightful. Universally an important piece of advice was to 'Read, read, read' if you want to write. As an ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Anita was very happy to see that advice coming from some of Australia's most admired and read authors.
In 2019, Professor Anita Heiss continues her dialogue with some amazing, contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers.
Again, their thoughtful and deeply insightful responses to questions trouble at the heart of what it is to carry the torch of Australia's oldest living cultures through the written word.
These interviews of prominent Aboriginal authors, Sam Watson, Lionel Fogarty, Terri Janke, Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Romaine Moreton, Lisa Bellear, were conducted during the course of Estelle Castro-Koshy's PhD (2007, The University of Queensland/Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3). They are invaluable resources to scholars and teachers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature, as well as anyone interested in Australian, Indigenous, or Oceanian history, culture, and contemporary politics and therefore constitute an important part of Australia's national heritage.
Welcome to this small collection of biographical stories that capture the experience of growing up in Australia as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person. The authors range in age from young adults to older women and men but common to all of their experience is resilience and respect.
These stories are published by BlackWords as a result of an overwhelming volume of stories submitted to Black Inc. for consideration in the print collection edited by Dr Anita Heiss. We were offered the opportunity to participate in making these important stories available by Anita and Black Inc. publisher, Aviva Tuffield.
In 2014, the artist Dr Fiona Foley and academic Dr Fiona Nichols turned The University of Queensland into a critical landscape of reimagining. The archive from the art installations, the symposium, and community engagement is hosted on BlackWords.
The First Nations People of Australia are the oldest continuous culture on Earth, comprising over 250 distinctly separate nations and language groups with different histories and performative customs (Casey, Telling 8). Their traditional practices of storytelling through art, dance, and song have been a consistent means of cultural expression within this vast and complex landscape. These participatory frameworks of revealing and embodying systems of knowledge have existed since time immemorial, with evidence of First Nations dance and storytelling found in Arnhem Land dating back to 54,000 years ago (Eckersley 131).
This essay was produced for AustLit by intern Susan Moran.
Image: Patyegarang (Jasmin Sheppard). Bangarra Dance Theatre. Image credit: Greg Barrett. Reproduced courtesy of Bangarra.
Compiled by Dr Sandy O'Sullivan in June 2020.
The following list links to Black writing and voices from across Australia.
The work is from writers, journalists, scholars, activists, curators, radio presenters, health workers, social commentators, lawyers, students, teachers, thinkers, and more.
Some are Elders.
All work listed here comes from the labour of the authors.
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