gem stones

for mista phillip

Booroloola Poetry Club

 

each poem is a different collection of voices from the Northern Territory’s Gulf of Carpentaria

 

millad mob country a yanyuwa glowin’ song

da sea a shimmerin’ magic ting

steppin’ so brolga lightly unda moon

an dem dugong backs shimmerin’

swimmin’ in seagrass alive for dem

hunters in dat cool salty breeze

waves splashin’ da island of pandanus an cycad in sand

jeweled with dem shells an crystals of light

an written with track only us mob can sing

of lovely lovely bush tucka

us mob countin’ dem taddle eggs like stars in heaven

knowin’ millad country an dem springs

caves hidden in us sacred ground

dem rock paintin’s now satellites movin’ millad stars

 

*

 

millad father country toward doomadgee

where dem barri barri dey bin crash down

da earth an millad mob learnim sing em

e bin makem dreaming birthmark on im ears

 

*

 

we bin get up an hab im good one walk

an us see dat really really smooth coat

dey bin learnim us sing dat coat an us good

way leaves cover him millad mob never steal

dat coat makem you sick

 

*

 

millad mob not saltwater mob like dem yanyuwa mob

us gudanji mob, dis millad country

you come drive in mudika long way

out bush an us show you lagoon

it long long way you know

dat devil devil dreaming

you don’t climb him or dance

da night dat gnabia bin stay

an he chock you like tis

you drive long long way past him

past barramundi dreaming swallowed

in mine an you see high on ridge

where freshwater kangaroo bash

dat saltwater one dat where us country is

us mob sing dat place dem ceremony

an lagoon big country full

taddle, long-nose, fish an bush turkey

water lily, makulu, bush plum, onion an yam

you bend roun’ unda massacre hill like dis

– dem yalinga whitefullas call him dat –

an up a track past dat skull creek

ini cave a baby blackfulla bone

tis sung to stone like crystal memory

dem poor old people do sing dat

 

*

 

Borroloola Poetry Club: Diwurruwurru (Message Stick)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phillip Gijindarriji Hall

The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) is proud to have hosted the Borroloola Poetry Club at the most recent Writers Workshops in October 2014. They are excellent writers and the ALNF is proud to support and encourage their ongoing activity as writers.

3 replies

  1. Love your collection of poems Borroloola Poetry Club! Keep em coming! Do you have a blog of your own?

    Like

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