Monthly Archives: January 2015

Always was. Always will be. #writeme30


History splintered into two rivers/ in one riverbed/ your blood, my blood, our blood/ washed clear, but not clean//


The Photo:


Warrick Photo Sovereignty                                 Photo supplied by Warrick Clinch


The Response:


The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established in 1972 on the steps of Old Parliament House to demand sovereignty for Aboriginal people. It’s a protest that’s been happening for over forty years. Since well before I was born.


And it’s a protest I’d never heard of it until well after my 25th year.


In school, my ‘formal’ exposure to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and contemporary issues can be summed up by ‘Aboriginal people were here when white people got here,’ no context, no follow up, no detail.


I don’t think my experience was particularly unique. Ask a handful of people who went to school during the same time period and I expect they could list off more facts about Ancient Egypt than they could about the history of First Nations people in this county.


Off the top of my head, some of the things I remember being taught during my formal schooling experience:


  • To sing Frère Jacques – I still know the words (no idea what they mean) and the tune
  • Pythagoras theorem
  • How rain is made – evaporation, precipitation
  • Basic grammar
  • Persuasive writing
  • Hello and goodbye in Spanish and Japanese
  • The first fleet
  • Burke and Wills
  • Evolution
  • Cricket
  • Indoor Hockey
  • Stanislavski
  • The words to Advance Australia Fair


Things I was not taught:


  • How to say hello in any First Nations language
  • What an acknowledgement of country is/is for
  • The history of the tent embassy
  • The history of black theatre
  • The frontier wars
  • How to recognize and respond to racism (my own and others)
  • Genocide/stolen generations
  • Treaty/sovereignty/constitutional recognition
  • Anything about First Nations people’s culture, language groups, history, dreaming, science, nutrition, political issues



My formal schooling experience taught me only that Aboriginal people were here before white people were. My ‘informal’ experience during primary school taught me that Aboriginal people were usually poor and not in positions of power and that Aboriginal men were usually scary (and drunk) and that Aboriginal women were mostly non existent. The only Aboriginal person I remember seeing on TV when I was growing up was Ernie Dingo.


Hopefully I don’t need to break down for you how fucked all of that is.


I shared a number of articles on ‘Australia’ Day about changing the date.


I saw some incredibly racist, offensive and poorly informed comments on those articles.


I felt furious.


But not at them. Or at least, not directly and only at them as individuals.


I felt furious at all of us.


For staying ignorant. For keeping others ignorant. For choosing to benefit from and hold on to our own privilege. For staying safely in our own corners and clinging to what we know. For accepting, believing and perpetuating all the single stories told to us*.


My husband and I watched the youtube video a Harry Potter fan (kcawesome13) made which cuts together all of Snape’s scenes from the movies in chronological order.




My point – in case it’s not bleedingly obvious – is that the lens we view a story through changes our experience of that story. Who we empathise with. What we understand and what we don’t. When our formal and informal education is entirely through a white lens, we continue to empathise with and think from a white perspective. If you don’t understand why this is a problem, I would recommend heading over to read some of Celeste Liddle’s work as a start (but don’t stop there).


I’d like to think that the situation is improving. That our formal and informal education is exposing us to more perspectives and stories. My children have access to NITV and some amazing presenters and stars on mainstream channels (case in point – Deborah Mailman #totalgirlcrush). The National Curriculum identifies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures as a cross-curricular priority (though there’s controversy around that of course * sigh *).


Yet, I still don’t think it’s enough. Not nearly enough.


My son is learning about the things I didn’t learn about because I care about them, because I’ve made them a priority and we seek opportunities to engage, learn and support outside of formal education. But what about everyone who doesn’t have a personal stake or interest?


Where are they learning and being exposed to anything other than their own experience? We’re risking more than just ignorance. More then just racism.

We’re risking losing whatever lessons the past has to teach us. Dooming ourselves to repeat the mistakes of the past. Over and over and over again.


Perhaps worse.


We’re risking our potential.


I’m more than worried. I’m scared.


*for an introduction to the idea of single stories, check out Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk here.



The Contributor:


I met Warrick through Youth Parliament. I was a taskforce support officer supervising participants for the South Australian Youth Parliament program. Warrick was a participant of the South Australian team of the national Indigenous Youth Parliament, their team was sharing accommodation with our regional participants for training weekend. I think it was 2011? Maybe 2012.


Warrick and I ended up facebook friends, as often happens from these kinds of networks/events. I don’t want to embarrass him or anything, but he’s one of those men who has so much more potential and awesome than he gives himself credit for. He’s a good lad. More than that, I’d vote for him.




The why of the work #ATF2015 questions


Questions swirl, morph, continue. The process of asking them seems as important as the actual answer. Because our answers are different. As they should be. As they have to be. From our different contexts, our different needs, our different passions.



I’m at the Australian Theatre Forum in Sydney this week and those questions…


Why do we make art?

Who is it for?

Does it even do anything?


…always find their way into these conversations.


I attended an artist talk with Danny Braverman in this morning’s breakout session and he touched on audience reactions after a show (and what that says about the show). I’m badly paraphrasing here, but along the lines off:


“‘Oh the parking is shit, not much to eat’. Well the show can’t have been so great. Or you have the shows ‘Oh the lighting was nice, wasn’t that performer great.’ Yeah but what was it about? But then the ones where people are sharing anecdotes of their own with each other – their own stories in response to the show.”



That’s where my hunger begins.

Or builds.

I want the ideas.

The rage.

The arguments.

I don’t want to see pretty lights or have great parking.

I want to stretch and be stretched.

I want people to see themselves and each other or NOT see themselves in such an extreme way that they have to talk about it and argue and tell their stories. I want the community that brings. The sense of empowerment, connection, change.


Why do I make art?

Because I feel compelled to. Because I feel a responsibility to. Because the experience of making or seeing art CAN change a life, or a vote.


Who is it for?

My community, my family. All the people like me who feel like they have no place in fancy foyers with fancy people. My granddad. My mum. My children.


Does it even do anything?

It can. It can be the net that catches you. The door that opens a new way of living. It was for me. And I hope that the art I make in some small way, somewhere along the line has even a fraction of the impact on others that others work had on me.


It’s not a perfect answer. Or a finished answer.


It’s my answer today though.





Dear Me, 19. #idealist #failure #RAAsummit

I wrote/said some words at a conference last year. A nice lady from ArtsHub was in the audience and asked if she could publish those words on ArtsHub.

I said yes. So she did. You can read them here now.

Some other people in the audience also said some nice things about my words in person and on twitter, like this:


If you want to say nice words to me on twitter, you can too (here). I will say thank you. We can be friends. Or whatever the equivalent is in the Twitterverse. Twits?

Night, loves.


An ABC of Women #feminism #mop15


* a first draft, inspired by #mop15 weekly prompt


An ABC of Women

Braved and
Coloured in with skin,
Depths circled and given in.
Fully with
Grace, poise,
Head held just so,
In the light melted to your eyes.
Joined in silence.
Kindness welded in,
Left to dream, to weep.
Paperthin and
Women, made
‘Xeno-’ by
Your hands, in their hair, their faces, their words, their lives. Now,
Zombies. Left. Discarded. Ruined.



No one can alone my loves, no one can alone. x

Photo of a Photo #writeme30 #depression #family


Concealed in folded edges is someone I used to be/ grainy with waiting, with wondering/ I am drawn by light// #tinytwitterpoem


The Photo:

IMG_1470                                         Photo supplied by Celia Boyd

“I wasn’t sure what to send you, this is a photo that I just keep coming back to and always makes me feel all the feelings when I see it. It’s not one that my family has framed or anything, its always just been kept in a drawer in their house and not put on display, but for some reason I kept thinking of it when you told us about your project.”


The Response:


I have loved ones who are hurting.


Everyone does.


I have loved ones who are hurting themselves.


Too many people do.


When you love someone who is hurting themselves, it’s hard to look at them. To be with them. To see them.


Someone very, very dear to me is hurting.

Has been hurting for a long time.

Is hurting themselves.

Is hurting me.

When I sit with them and talk, I want to run away, retreat, leave, shout at them to ‘SHUT UP’. It takes all the patience in me, all the patience I don’t have to be there with them. To sit with them. To see them.


I found a stray photo of them in amongst old photo albums early last year. Real, physical photo albums with real, physical photographs printed on glossy paper. A novelty. The photo is of a younger them, smiling cheekily into the camera with two dimples prominent on either cheek. I looked at that photo for a really long time.


And then I cried.


For a really long time.


I cried for all the distance and time separating that tiny human in the photo from the angry, grown-up, hurting human I know now. I cried for me, and all the ways I don’t really have the energy to keep watching them hurt themselves. I cried for both of us, for all the lost things, the forgotten things, the promised things.


And I cried because no matter how hard it is to watch someone you love hurt themselves, it’s harder and hurts more to not have them anymore. I cried with the fierce joy of having them still here when we’ve lost so many others.


I cried. And cried. And cried.


And cried.


And then I placed that photograph gently back into my photo album.


They are no longer a dimpled child.


They are an angry hurting adult.


I can’t untangle the past that’s brought us here. I don’t even know where to start.


But I can sit.


I can listen.


I can see.


I can swallow my impatience and fill my skin with the radiance of loving them enough to wait.


I can be myself. Just that.



The Contributor:


Celia Boyd, another of the YSP tribe, mother of many ideas, creator of deep change. Celia is currently living in Cambodia building new opportunities for Cambodia women through her enterprise SHE Investments.


SHE Investments is a social investment business that focuses on women entrepreneurs in Cambodia by providing business training, capital and mentoring.


Living in an extrovert inclined world means that amazing people like Celia, who are more introverted in their approach, don’t always appreciate how truly amazing and inspiring they are.

We think you’re a rockstar Celia. Sending big love to Cambodia!


What is #writeme30?




Because #summertime #mop15 @sawriterscentre


IT changes you. The doorway you can never not have stepped through. The words you can never not have said. The moment you can never not, not have been there. The silences you can never really fill. You are changed and made whole by them.


And without you in the room something shifted and moved and sighed itself into a new alignment. They’d made the decision for you. Because you weren’t there. Because you weren’t ready. Because you didn’t.


Because you didn’t. Because.


Month of Poetry, this entry inspired by SA Writers Centre Summertime Inspiration prompts


Fill Me – Month of Poetry #MoP15


I’m starting off 2015 with lots of small, achievable and fun creative outlets for me – one of which is participating in Month Of Poetry this January.


“Otherwise know as #MoP, Month of Poetry is a personal challenge to write one poem ever day for the month of January. Co-ordinated by Australian poet and children’s author, Kathryn Apel#MoP is for enjoyment and inspiration – for everyone. It’s not a competition, and you won’t be judged. There is no disgrace in writing less than thirty poems, so make the challenge work for you – and celebrate every poem you write!”*


As part of Month Of Poetry, Kathryn also offers a prompt challenge each Saturday. Today’s challenge was to write a colour poem (a poem inspired by a colour).

So this is my little effort:


Fill Me.

Painted walls slip as music spread between clean sheets and tasting plates. I am echoed. I am filled. I am joy. Grown into tall leaves and large faces. My daughter’s laughter in honey jars. Flakes of salmon painted in coriander and love. I am yellow. I am home. I am filled.


*from the Month of Poetry ‘About’ section, head here to find out more.



One Word To Sing A New Year In

One word to sing a new year in/ to lure gently in, to sit softly perched/ on my shoulder/ my lap/ my heart/ to be welcome//  #tinytwitterpoem

I like transitions. I like the way they taste and feel and smell.

I like to mark them. To take the time to sit with them. So the ending of one year and the beginning of another means something to me. I am a teetotaler and (predominantly) a homebody so New Year Eve/Day is not a time of partying and drinking and going out for me. Instead it is a time to sit with a year of yesterdays in preparation for a year of tomorrows.

I like to live the first day of the new year very deliberately. Very on purpose.

My husband thinks it’s superstition and in a small way he is right, but it’s actually more about me playing a psychological trick on myself to commit to the values and actions I want to live. I like to make a point of the first day of a new year being spent (symbolically) the way I’d like to spend the rest of the year. It is me saying to myself “this is how I want to live and who I want to be”. It doesn’t magically mean my whole year will be that way of course, but I feel like if I just went “oh well, it’s another day, why bother”, then that attitude becomes symptomatic and sets up bad habits itself.

By entering the year deliberately I’m trying to make the person I want to be a habit because habits are harder to break.

And so a large chunk of today was spent writing and reading and seeding some creative adventures (which I’ll share here on the blog as the year unfolds) and in amongst some of that reading and seeding and thinking and reflecting, I stumbled across a lovely blog post from Maxabella Loves and a ‘link-up’ inviting people to share their one word to sum up/capture/invite the new year in.

It’s harder than it sounds.

I can easily give you a word for 2014.


2014 was a really difficult year, lots of precious, wonderful things happened (like this and this and this), but there were also lots of hard, awful things (which I mostly haven’t felt able to write about so I haven’t) and I’ve really struggled with some of the transitions 2014 has brought and with some of my ‘old’ issues sneaking their way under my skin.

So a word for 2014 was easy. Hindsight is easy. Setting the tone for a year that hasn’t unfurled yet is HARD. Hard I tell you.

I toyed with the idea of ’embrace’ for 2015. Because I want to do a lot more embracing in the sense of actually hugging the people I love and embracing in the sense of embracing myself, embracing opportunities and challenges and life.

I liked it but it wasn’t ‘the one’. And so.

And so, my one word for 2015 in the end is:


I want to be more gentle with myself and especially with Mr 12 (who has also really struggled with our transition year) as I haven’t liked the parent I’ve been to him lately. I’d also just like some more gentle in my life in general after what has been a really hectic, frenetic, harsh period of time over the last couple of years. Some gentle evenings shared with loved ones. Some gentle reflection. Some gentle creating and collecting and embracing. And I want to make a more deliberate effort to be more gentle in how I live on this planet with my habits, my consumption, my daily impact.

So hi there 2015. Be gentle with me.

future presen set


#summerinspiration #mop15 @sawriterscentre

Starting my 2015 by participating in SA Writer’s Centre ‘Summer Inspiration’ Program and Month of Poetry. Because I can. Because I promised myself more fun and more ‘me’ time this year.


Image Credit and source unknown. Found saved in an old folder on my computer…


This particular piece is tackling both Summer Inspiration and #mop15 at once – a poem inspired by the first Summer Inspiration prompt:


Remember the last time you refused to do something that somebody suggested. Imagine you didn’t refuse. Write the outcome.




I say no a lot.

It’s true.

It angries it’s way out of me

On sharp teeth and tongues

And inside, outside dreams.


We load that great hulking beast

Together. With fucks that burst from my fingerprints

Staining our day

Training you not to suggest things anymore

Training me not to trust you. To give in. To bend.


We arrive and I bounce. From foot to foot. Tense. Ready. Fight or flight. Such a ridiculous response for returning a broken item. There is no shame in asking to get what you paid for. This is why I wait at the door when you do things I’m not ready for. This is why I like to learn things and ask questions privately, one on one. So it doesn’t catch me in its claws. With its shiny metal teeth.


Embarrassment. Hot. Itchy. Temperamental.

I told you so.