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This collection of essays has been produced for teachers, students, researchers, and readers in order to highlight AustLit’s BlackWords project, the most comprehensive resource of Indigenous Australian writing available. The essays aim to assist readers to better understand the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and publishing on Australia’s literary landscape.
The essays showcase recent trends in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and highlight the diversity of voices, the range of themes, the genres authors are publishing in, and the ongoing importance of storytelling in contemporary Indigenous society. Common themes emerge in the concerns of Indigenous writers: identity; connection to country; urban life; language maintenance and reclamation. While Indigenous authored books to assist with literacy at a community level is a growing aspect of publishing.
A range of terminology has been used in these essays in order to define Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers who make up the BlackWords dataset. In each case, the chosen term reflects the context of the work being considered. The term ‘First Peoples’ and ‘First Nations’ will mean Aboriginal only, while Indigenous and Black are inclusive of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The author, Dr Anita Heiss, would like to thank Emeritus Professor Gus Worby, Flinders University and Yunggorendi First Nations Centre, for his professional support and good will in undertaking a scholarly edit of these essays; and to Kerry Kilner for textual editing and for recognising the importance of having them as part of the AustLit database.
Dr Heiss would also like to acknowledge the support of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council who granted her a literature fellowship to research and write these essays, and thereby making them freely available to visitors to BlackWords. AustLit maintains BlackWords through the support of The University of Queensland and the generosity of our subscribers.
St Lucia:AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource,2015