Natalie Harkin is a poet and artist of Narungga descent (SA), a member of the Chester family from Point Pearce in South Australia. She has professional experience in government and non-government sectors, but mostly in the Indigenous higher education sector in South Australia. She has worked at Wilto Yerlo and Yaitya Purruna at the University of Adelaide, the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research at the University of South Australia and is currently working as a Lecturer with the Yunggorendi Student Engagement team at Flinders University.
In 2015 her collection of poetry titled Dirty Words was published by Cordite books.
Her current research centres on her Aboriginal family story and weaves together a love of storytelling, activism and resistance-poetics through art and literature, and Aboriginal writers and artists who engage critically with State record archives. She is weaving her own creative-nonfiction and poetic-prose throughout the research.
She has been an active member of the South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Storytellers and Writers Group and has shared her poetic-prose at conferences, local events and festivals, including a workshop with the 2014 International Writers Festival, Ottawa. Her words have also been projected in several exhibitions comprising text-object-video projection, including a basket woven from her grandmother and great-grandmother’s letters from the archives.
Natalie is also a member on the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute Board, the Arts SA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Assessment Committee, and has contributed in a number of healing workshops through SA Link-Up, Aboriginal Community Homecare, and Aboriginal wellbeing camps for elders.
'Dirty Words, an A to Z index of poetry, is a restless offering; an unfolding that may begin on any page. This to-ing and fro-ing of observation is an un-binding of sorts; a mournful rage with beauty and deep love between the lines to disrupt and transcend the pain and disdain. This book is a reminder that what is (re)produced and (re)presented for general consumption, by institutions of power, is often steeped in myth-making and persistent colonial ideology. This small contemplation on nation and history is informed by blood-memory and an uncanny knowing beyond what we are officially told; a reminder of multiple lived-histories, of other ways of knowing and being in this world. Our elders and ancestors fought for the right to exist and speak up into the future – there are traces and signs, and there was always resistance. Dirty Words is my ‘note-to-self’ to speak up, to unsettle and to be brave; to not be silent when another voice would be easier or expected. There is still work to be done, and difficult conversations to have. Hidden stories can be honoured, exposed and shared, and there is always poetry.'