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From the campfires and 'reserves' of the desert, from riverbanks and prison cells, from universities and urban ghettoes come the inside voices of Australia. These are tough poems that resist the silence of genocide and the destruction of culture. The collection is an angry call for justice and the restoration of the land and the Dreaming. The Aboriginal lives glimpsed give From the campfires and 'reserves' of the desert, from riverbanks and prison cells, from universities and urban ghettoes come the inside voices of Australia. These are tough poems that resist the silence of genocide and the destruction of culture. The collection is an angry call for justice and the restoration of the land and the Dreaming. The Aboriginal lives glimpsed give white Australians a hint of the deep possibilities of belonging in this land. -- from the cover blurb.


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From the campfires and 'reserves' of the desert, from riverbanks and prison cells, from universities and urban ghettoes come the inside voices of Australia. These are tough poems that resist the silence of genocide and the destruction of culture. The collection is an angry call for justice and the restoration of the land and the Dreaming. The Aboriginal lives glimpsed give From the campfires and 'reserves' of the desert, from riverbanks and prison cells, from universities and urban ghettoes come the inside voices of Australia. These are tough poems that resist the silence of genocide and the destruction of culture. The collection is an angry call for justice and the restoration of the land and the Dreaming. The Aboriginal lives glimpsed give white Australians a hint of the deep possibilities of belonging in this land. -- from the cover blurb.

45 review for Inside Black Australia: An Anthology of Aboriginal Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vernon Armstrong

    SPOILER ALERT: A poem from this book: "Red, Black and Yellow are the colours of our band, Black is for the people of this Southern land, Yellow is for the mighty sun life giver in the sky, and Red is for our people's blood so onward we survive". page 105. This book of Aboriginal poetry, from Aboriginal people contextualises Aboriginal history. Each poem has meaning, depth and truth some more metorphoric others direct, what I see and read is my own history and this book of poetry inspires me to write SPOILER ALERT: A poem from this book: "Red, Black and Yellow are the colours of our band, Black is for the people of this Southern land, Yellow is for the mighty sun life giver in the sky, and Red is for our people's blood so onward we survive". page 105. This book of Aboriginal poetry, from Aboriginal people contextualises Aboriginal history. Each poem has meaning, depth and truth some more metorphoric others direct, what I see and read is my own history and this book of poetry inspires me to write my own poems of my history.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I'm glad to have finished this. Glad to have persevered, but glad that it's finished. I have to keep reminding myself that this book is twenty years old, and most of the poems older than that. That it was put together as a protest against the Bicentennial celebrations. Many of these poems don't just seethe with anger, but rage and fury. Not just pain but agony. Fury and agony buried beneath years of repression, refined diamond-hard. (I'm sorry if the metaphor doesn't work, but I don't know how els I'm glad to have finished this. Glad to have persevered, but glad that it's finished. I have to keep reminding myself that this book is twenty years old, and most of the poems older than that. That it was put together as a protest against the Bicentennial celebrations. Many of these poems don't just seethe with anger, but rage and fury. Not just pain but agony. Fury and agony buried beneath years of repression, refined diamond-hard. (I'm sorry if the metaphor doesn't work, but I don't know how else to explain this.) And so I found it difficult to read. Almost impossible at times. As though these poems were attacking me, raging against me in particular. And I found them threatening. Especially the poems by men. (And yet it surprised me that my favourites were those by Bobbi Sykes. She was radical black feminist, almost militant at that time. But her poems I could cope with, hers I could appreciate. And like.) And it surprised me that in the end, one of my favourites is "The New True Anthem" by Kevin Gilbert. Because Kevin Gilbert was one of the most troubling writers in the collection. Gilbert was jailed for killing his wife. Not for some stupid little misdemenour, but murder. And tries to blame that on "the white justice system". Without ever even suggesting that he *didn't* kill his wife. Anyway - I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the poetry of this man whose (again) radical militant remarks had been jumping off the page at me ever since I began.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris Chaplin

    I wrote the following review nearly 30 years ago, in 1988 (the year Gilbert's anthology was published), for my teacher training institute's student newspaper. Sadly, it's still relevant. NB I used the term "Aboriginal" but modern preference is the more inclusive "Indigenous"; I also incorrectly used "Kooris" to refer to all Indigenous Australians when in fact it is only used for those in NSW and Victoria. Inside Black Australia is the first published anthology of Aboriginal poetry, presenting the I wrote the following review nearly 30 years ago, in 1988 (the year Gilbert's anthology was published), for my teacher training institute's student newspaper. Sadly, it's still relevant. NB I used the term "Aboriginal" but modern preference is the more inclusive "Indigenous"; I also incorrectly used "Kooris" to refer to all Indigenous Australians when in fact it is only used for those in NSW and Victoria. Inside Black Australia is the first published anthology of Aboriginal poetry, presenting the biographies and representative work of 43 of Australia's finest Aboriginal poets. The collection stands as a powerful expression of the anger, despair, determination and hope of perhaps the most oppressed and traumatised people in the world. If that seems an over-statement, the example of one of the anthology's poets may be revealing. Joy Williams was born in 1942; that same year, she was removed by force from her mother and placed in a Children's Home - because she was a "fair-skinned child". Some may be able to excuse such a violation of human rights, at a time before the United Nations had been created, yet this tragedy is still being repeated today. At the age of 22, Joy herself had her own 10-month-old daughter taken from her by State Authorities. Joy has still not found her daughter (though in 1984, after 42 years of enforced separation, she was finally able to find her parents, at a Mission in Cowra). [2017 update: the "Bringing Them Home" 1997 Human Rights Commission report into the Stolen Generations concluded that Australia's program of assimilation was "an act of genocide, aimed at wiping out Indigenous families, communities and cultures". In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an historic official apology on behalf of the Australian Parliament. In Oct 2017, conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rejected the proposal for an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament, the key recommendation of a 10-year reconciliation process]. One only has to read the poetry of Joy Williams, to feel the pain and desolation of an experience common to an appalling number of Kooris (Aborigines). Such experiences are only compounded by the oral history of the atrocities committed by the invading colonists. These inhuman acts, described by Kevin Gilbert in his Introduction, remind me of the callous brutality of the Holocaust. Australian history has been so successfully sanitised that most white Australians aren't even aware of our shameful past. There are four moving poems by Robert Walker on another experience common to Kooris: the prison cell. Walker died in suspicious circumstances in 1984, joining a list of black deaths in custody many times greater than our Government condemns South Africa for. There are very few poems in this collection that do not, in some way, reflect on what it means to be a Koori (Jim Everett's Ode to Salted Mutton Birds is perhaps the exception, in that the experiences related in this poem could equally apply to white settlers). Many are a raw expression of anger against black oppression, while others speak hopefully of a successful struggle for change. The women poets in particular link this struggle with their parallel fight for women's rights. Many other poems simply express the despair of those who are seeing their own culture erode before their eyes. Because the Koori experience is so vastly different from our own, the poems in Inside Black Australia are difficult for a "gubbah" to relate to. Charmaine Papertalk-Green, in her powerful poem Are We The Same, asks: "Have you starved? / seen your mother flogged? / or your father hopelessly drunk?", and concludes: I come from another world One you will never know You may try to understand But never will. Although I personally believe that this ignores our common humanity, it is impossible to read the anthology without realising that there is a vast gulf between our cultures. Nonetheless, Inside Black Australia provides a unique window into this culture, allowing us to view the many facets of Aboriginal life through the eyes and words of Australia's best Koori poets. This book would be a valuable addition to the Language & Literature syllabus.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tarkpor

    This book invited me to like poetry and it did. Meaningful, historical and honest.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ms K

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Ray

  8. 4 out of 5

    Samira

  9. 4 out of 5

    Varna

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bec

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    just got this today

  12. 4 out of 5

    A G

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michelleab

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gary Reynish

  15. 4 out of 5

    GC

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Farrell

  17. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tesni

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ned Gill

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Ann

  21. 4 out of 5

    S. Joice

  22. 5 out of 5

    birdyreads

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kiara

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cornelio

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stef

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stu

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian Millar

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ching-In

  31. 4 out of 5

    abcdefg

  32. 4 out of 5

    Shulamit "Shulie"

  33. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

  34. 5 out of 5

    Joy

  35. 5 out of 5

    Pat David

  36. 5 out of 5

    Chantal Rossi

  37. 5 out of 5

    Ismael's Pond

  38. 5 out of 5

    Vj Sydney

  39. 4 out of 5

    Wade

  40. 4 out of 5

    Julia Kearns

  41. 5 out of 5

    Troy

  42. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  43. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

  44. 4 out of 5

    Allie Shaw

  45. 4 out of 5

    Leeanne Davis

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