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42 review for Guwayu - For All Times: A Collection of First Nations Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    'Guwayu – For All Times releases the arrested times of the Country’s First Peoples held captive in the colonial calendar, and frees kidnapped memories held hostage to false claims of settlement, nationhood, sovereignty and justice. In All First Nations languages, there is a word for all times. And now there is a time for these words’ From the very foreword, written by Dr Jeanine Leane, it is clear that this is a collection that celebrates the diversity and originality of First Nations voices an 'Guwayu – For All Times releases the arrested times of the Country’s First Peoples held captive in the colonial calendar, and frees kidnapped memories held hostage to false claims of settlement, nationhood, sovereignty and justice. In All First Nations languages, there is a word for all times. And now there is a time for these words’ From the very foreword, written by Dr Jeanine Leane, it is clear that this is a collection that celebrates the diversity and originality of First Nations voices and experiences, a collection that is not limited to or confined by the colonial gaze, that is striking in its boldness and innovation. This is such a strong collection in its entirety, organised around themes of environmental change, connections – both temporal and physical – with the landscape, collaborative healing, cultural identity, First Nations language and history. It is a collection that asks the reader to sit down and be quiet, to be still and convene in the storytelling and listen to the gut-truths held within the heart of these pages, not just to observe but to take a deep-dive into the profoundly personal, the heartbreakingly intimate and the vulnerable. It is a collection that reaches beyond the art form of language and rhythm and storytelling. There is an alchemy here, a weaving together of works that amplifies – magnifies and enriches – each voice, the collective value so much stronger than the sum of its parts. It is a collection that explores what it is to be Aboriginal in colonial Australia and the pervasive impact of colonisation, that recognises the duality of poetry as both an art form but also as an instrument for social change, and that is intrinsically tied to a wider reckoning that is required in this country. There are, unsurprisingly, a large number of poems that focus on the impact of colonisation, not only on Indigenous communities, culture and Country as an immutable whole, but also at a deeply – almost intimately – personal level. There are poems that are written with an undercurrent of simmering fury at injustices both past and present, that express a valid anger towards white settler ignorance and disregard for the richness, beauty and ingenuity of a culture over 60,000 years old. Many works ask the reader to consider modern Australia’s violent racial divide, touching on police brutality, systemic inequality, Indigenous suicide rates and the forced removal rates of Indigenous children. There are poems that are suffused with an almost overwhelming sense of loss and despair, that are lyrical and aching and bleed longing like the poet’s pen carves open a vein and spills lifeblood on the page. Poems that speak about things taken and lost and missing, and the shape of this as it is, etched onto a person's soul. In many ways this is a collection that charts the course of colonial violence, a written cartography of ‘trauma etched upon page (98)’, each work amplifying this collective thread of shared experience, penned with unguarded honesty and gentle care. I particularly loved ‘After Viewing the Carved Trees Exhibition' in which the reader is asked to witness the writer’s grief, lamenting the dispossession of land and the cultural and spiritual thefts that have occurred, mourning ‘of a world and ways now gone(149)’ and the searching for how to respond: 'Do we celebrate? Do we own our anger Or do we forgive? Or do we let the tears Fall where they may?' Kirli Saunders contemplative ‘Disconnection’ leans into the pain of this loss with a quiet yet powerful yearning, written with a sparseness – almost stark – language, conjuring the poetic equivalence of a liminal space. An acknowledgement of those that are at once standing on either side of an invisible divide, imbued with the jarring dissonence of that which has been lost or taken, leaving ghost-like spaces behind: 'I watch your trembling limbs ache to shake in dance and hear your lungs as they gasp with songs unknown I feel your body sans spirit, ceremony and secret and know that it has been grown with rots wrenched from the earth that cradled them' I keep going back to certain works time and time again, struck by the beauty of the language, imbued with such a potent awareness of place, of belonging and being in the world that resonates right down to the soul. Poems like ‘Mothers Lost Song’, which cries out for what is disappearing and that which is already gone, melodic and haunting yet almost tender, with words that echo from the page and across space and time. Or works like ‘Spirit Remains’ that trembles and lingers, a sense memory that transcends the physical world: 'I am still here amidst your secret transgression I am present I am unknown I am that eerie shiver you feel when you’re alone I refuse to leave, this is my home! I am the gulf, the bay and the cove I bin ‘ere long-time, I have watched this place grow I continue to transcend beyond the skies, over the seas and deep below' Many poets write in their traditional language, a bold declaration of defiance and resistance, a reclamation of that which white settler policies attempted to erode away, while others play with form and structure and intonation, taking the colonisers language and asserting their own sense of place and power. There is a refusal to be tied down, a refusal to be contained, and while there is often a thread of sorrow or hurt weaving through the pages, reminders of the many varied yet also shared experiences of First Nations communities, there is also resilience and joy and rather a lot of pride. It is an important reminder that it would be a disservice to think that the experiences of Aboriginal people should be reduced only to trauma and pain. The importance of language, the power of knowing language and speaking in language and this connection to culture and Country and the spirits of the ancestors, is such a powerful element that resurfaces throughout many of the works, like ‘Koolark’ and ‘Banggang Gundu’ and ‘Ban Maganindadjyang’, while in others the poets grapple with being unable to speak their ancestral tongue. In ‘Nginha-Gulia Nyiang’ the author searches – hungers – ‘like the child I should have been when I first felt them(137)’ for the words that don’t come. It is evident in these works why the collection is so named. ‘Guwayu’ – in Wiradjuri; inseparable, still and yet for all times, in which all times are unfinished and no time is ever over. The poems journey across landscapes and time, infused with a very palpable sense of place, an undeniable connection to, and respect for, the natural world that is both timeless and striking in its relevancy to our modern day. The words flow and ripple, there is a rhythm that spreads outwards and onwards and around, yet is also centred by the land, its beauty and majesty. There is an urgency here, a knowledge that this country is hungry for change, that there are lessons to be learned and remediation to be claimed. This is important; there cannot be an environmental movement without first a centring of Indigenous rights and voices, they are fundamentally connected. The striking gut-punch of Ali Cobby Eckerman’s ‘It’s Just So Wrong’ that talks about ‘the badness gets stuck inside wrong ways(38)’, and the rhythmic ‘For the Young’ that crackles and pulses like an electric current, are both rallying cries for justice and change. I really hope this collection will find its way into the hands of readers far and wide. It is an excavation of truths and experiences, rich with meaning but also beautiful simply as a work of art. I know I will continue to return to these pages in future, not just for what this collection has to say but for the beauty of the language, rendered with such care and detail.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Carr

    Whether by virtue of age or this out-of-kilter year, i've found myself drawn back to poetry. Guwayu also hits another spot for me, as I continue to try and read and learn about Australia's first nations people. There are 62 poems, of which about 1/3rd have either partial or full translations into local languages. Largely I appreciated this, having a chance to hear the sound, but given there's several different languages used across the book, it's hard to do more than just read for the sound than Whether by virtue of age or this out-of-kilter year, i've found myself drawn back to poetry. Guwayu also hits another spot for me, as I continue to try and read and learn about Australia's first nations people. There are 62 poems, of which about 1/3rd have either partial or full translations into local languages. Largely I appreciated this, having a chance to hear the sound, but given there's several different languages used across the book, it's hard to do more than just read for the sound than any real sense of how the poem works through the language. There's a wide range of themes and styles in this book. While I admired some of the word play in the more interpretive ones, I preferred those which spoke to history or politics. That may just be my own background (as an almost exclusive non-fiction reader) but they also seemed to have more poetry as well. Lorna Munro's 'Big House, Big White Lies' in particular is a stand out (and the editors know it, give its placement near the start of the book. Big house, big lies, gubbna, white gubbament Contorted melaleuca Conveniently furnished with second-hand decadence Will society ever speak of the secret deals that were made? In order to showcase marble reminiscent of all the blood that was laid Still there's many others that are worth the price alone. Nicole Smede's 'Pre-Dawn' is a touching story of an early morning forage from camp, while Nick Paton's haunting 'The Lady at My Window' is one that lingers, especially for a white reader. There some well known names here (Claire G. Coleman, Bruce Pascoe, Jeanine Leane), but many also seem from their bios emerging names who can hopefully build off this edited collection.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura Davison

    "GUWAYU - FOR ALL TIMES: A Collection of First Nations Poems" is a vital step forward in the world of Australian Literature. For the first time, First Nations people have been able to come together to create a collection of poems written and edited by First Nations people, for First Nations people. The result is this wonderful book, filled with a range of fantastic poetry celebrating First Nations languages and cultures, as well as mourning what has been lost since the British colonised the cont "GUWAYU - FOR ALL TIMES: A Collection of First Nations Poems" is a vital step forward in the world of Australian Literature. For the first time, First Nations people have been able to come together to create a collection of poems written and edited by First Nations people, for First Nations people. The result is this wonderful book, filled with a range of fantastic poetry celebrating First Nations languages and cultures, as well as mourning what has been lost since the British colonised the continent we now call Australia. I can not recommend it enough, and look forward to seeing more such collections.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    This was a great read, I especially enjoyed the poems translated from language. The only this that was a bit odd was the poems were all sorted into themes but then not presented within those themes? Just with a note to say where it belonged. There was probably a reason for it but it just felt like an odd choice when I was reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jaimee P.

    😍😍😍 So good!!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susie Anderson

    challenges the western canon of poetry and acts as an answer to the way mob have been "archived"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shannon McLeod

    Healing 🖤💛❤

  8. 5 out of 5

    Skye Taylor

    A powerful collection of First Nations poetry that hits every bone as you read. Hoping this is a start of more like this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Banx

  11. 5 out of 5

    Toni Marie

  12. 5 out of 5

    Xenica Ayling

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Randall

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lillian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Blackeby

  18. 4 out of 5

    Made

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lachlan Challis

  20. 5 out of 5

    Straw

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cat

  22. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Brown

  23. 5 out of 5

    Romi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brit McCarthy

  25. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

  26. 5 out of 5

    Reid Francis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Creece

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cassette

  31. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Doherty

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Thompson

  33. 4 out of 5

    Tegan

  34. 4 out of 5

    Chloe Leigh

  35. 5 out of 5

    C

  36. 4 out of 5

    Coral

  37. 4 out of 5

    Ally Moulis

  38. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  39. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

  40. 5 out of 5

    lynne pye

  41. 4 out of 5

    Tyza

  42. 5 out of 5

    Toni Meehan

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