In this article, Stuart Cooke argues for the merits of Gularabulu: Stories from the West Kimberley.
'Indigenous Australian cultures were long known to the world mainly from the writing of anthropologists, ethnographers, historians, missionaries, and others. Indigenous Australians themselves have worked across a range of genres to challenge and reconfigure this textual legacy, so that they are now strongly represented through their own life-narratives of identity, history, politics, and culture. Even as Indigenous-authored texts have opened up new horizons of engagement with Aboriginal knowledge and representation, however, the textual politics of some of these narratives - particularly when cross-culturally produced or edited - can remain haunted by colonially grounded assumptions about orality and literacy.
Through an examination of key moments in the theorizing of orality and literacy and key texts in cross-culturally produced Indigenous life-writing, Entangled Subjects explores how some of these works can sustain, rather than trouble, the frontier zone established by modernity in relation to 'talk' and 'text'. Yet contemporary Indigenous vernaculars offer radical new approaches to how we might move beyond the orality-literacy 'frontier', and how modernity and the a-modern are productively entangled in the process. ' (Source: Angus & Robertson website www.angusrobertson.com.au)
Speaking the Earth’s Languages brings together for the first time critical discussions of postcolonial poetics from Australia and Chile. The book crosses multiple languages, landscapes, and disciplines, and draws on a wide range of both oral and written poetries, in order to make strong claims about the importance of ‘a nomad poetics’ – not only for understanding Aboriginal or Mapuche writing practices but, more widely, for the problems confronting contemporary literature and politics in colonized landscapes.
The book begins by critiquing canonical examples of non-indigenous postcolonial poetics. Incisive re-readings of two icons of Australian and Chilean poetry, Judith Wright (1915–2000) and Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), provide rich insights into non-indigenous responses to colonization in the wake of modernity. The second half of the book establishes compositional links between Aboriginal and Mapuche poetics, and between such oral and written poetics more generally.
The book’s final part develops an ‘emerging synthesis’ of contemporary Aboriginal and Mapuche poetics, with reference to the work of two of the most important avant-garde Aboriginal and Mapuche poets of recent times, Lionel Fogarty (1958–) and Paulo Huirimilla (1973–).
Speaking the Earth’s Languages uses these fascinating links between Aboriginal and Mapuche poetics as the basis of a deliberately nomadic, open-ended theory for an Australian–Chilean postcolonial poetics. 'The central argument of this book,' the author writes, 'is that a nomadic poetics is essential for a genuinely postcolonial form of habitation, or a habitation of colonized landscapes that doesn’t continue to replicate colonialist ideologies involving indigenous dispossession and environmental exploitation.' [from the publisher's website]