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.