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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers and Storytellers
(Status : Public)
Coordinated by BlackWords Team
  • About BlackWords - Our History

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    BlackWords is an AustLit initiative. Its establishment and development were coordinated by Dr Anita Heiss (at left), with the assistance of Kerry Kilner and a team of research assistants working at AustLit partner institutions.

    BlackWords grew from AustLit’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Writers subset (2001-2006), which was initially created to encompass this important part of Australia’s literary culture.

    BlackWords was inspired by the recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works and subject matter needed their own distinctive brand, voice and identity. After consultation among Indigenous academics and community members, the distinctive BlackWords logo was developed by Michael Gilsenan.

  • National Coordinators

    BlackWords has been led by a team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and researchers. Ms Samantha Faulkner and Dr Jeanine Leane lead the team after Anita Heiss. Dr Leane remains on the AustLit Advisory Board.

  • The BlackWords Logo

  • Three symbols frame Brisbane-based graphic designer Michael Gilsenan’s story of how he come to design the distinctive BlackWords logo.

    The BlackWords logo has been designed around three distinct parts of our culture – Country, Story and Voice. I wanted to show the importance that these three parts play in creating our culture and identity and their relationship to each other. The logo is about these three parts – my country, my story, my voice.

    The logo shape is constructed on a spiral which has vanishing points at each end but no beginning or end. This demonstrates our relationship with our past and the continuum of the future. Our culture is alive – if we have no past, we have no future. The logo is designed to be viewed from the centre, running right to left.

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    The green leaf shape represents Country.

    The outer portions are the many different countries within the solid portion which represents the whole of Australia.

    This shows the diversity of our people and the breadth of our land. The centre line of the leaf is the journey within country.

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    The blue shape represents the Story.

    It has been split into two parts – the oral story and the dance/music story.

    This shape is then divided by the curved line which shows the journey and creation of the story. It is the pathway which describes my country.

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    From my story came my Voice.

    The figure rises up and out, showing the vibrancy and aliveness of the story and our culture.

    The two arms (triangular shapes) of the figure embrace the story and the country. The centre of the figure acts as an arrow to draw the viewer back into the centre to recreate the relationship of all the parts.

  • BlackWords Launch


    BlackWords Launch

    On 6 June, 2007, BlackWords was launched at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane by Uncle Sam Watson (at right).

    From this beginning, the increasingly rich literary heritage of Indigenous Australians has continued to be woven into the AustLit database and disseminated online.

    BlackWords remains unique in that the content and representation of Indigenous authors, their stories and their literary voices, are generated and maintained by a team of Indigenous people. The team welcomes contributions from the communities BlackWords serves.

  • Advisors

    BlackWords benefited from the thoughtful guidance of a reference group of Indigenous writers and researchers drawn from AustLit's partner institutions.