BlackWords provides access to both general and specific information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literary cultures and traditions, providing a platform for the investigation and articulation of what 'Black writing' and 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature'. BlackWords also contains records describing published and unpublished books, stories, plays, poems and criticism associated with eligible writers and storytellers and includes works in English and in Indigenous languages.
'Aboriginal people have been inundated with questions about how to be a better ally. It gives us hope but it’s absolutely exhausting.'
'This paper examines the effects of curatorial processes used to develop children's literature digital research projects in the bibliographic database AustLit. Through AustLit's emphasis on contextualising individual works within cultural, biographical, and critical spaces, Australia's literary history is comprehensively represented in a unique digital humanities space. Within AustLit is BlackWords, a project dedicated to recording Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling, publishing, and literary cultural history, including children's and young adult texts. Children's literature has received significant attention in AustLit (and BlackWords) over the last decade through three projects that are documented in this paper. The curation of this data highlights the challenges in presenting ‘national’ literatures in countries where minority voices were (and perhaps continue to be) repressed and unseen. This paper employs a ‘resourceful reading’ approach – both close and distant reading methods – to trace the complex and ever-evolving definition of ‘Australian children's literature’.'
Discusses Anita Heiss' new role as Professor of Communications at the University of Queensland.'
'‘All Australian children deserve to know the country that they share through the stories that Aboriginal people can tell them,’ write Gladys Idjirrimoonra Milroy and Jill Milroy (2008: 42). If country and story, place and voice are intertwined, it is vital that we make space in Australian creative writing classrooms for the reading and writing of Australian Indigenous story. What principles and questions can allow us to begin? We propose six groundings for this work:
This two-part paper will discuss each of these groundings as orienting and motivating principles for work we do as teachers of introductory creative writing units at the University of Canberra.' (Publication abstract)
'Non-fiction books by and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have arguably played a crucial role in the framing of public discussion of Indigenous issues in Australia since the 1950s. In this article, I track quantitative trends in the publishing of the approximately 769 such books for the Australian retail trade between 1960 and 2000, as part of what I describe as an emerging “cultural mission” among Australian book publishers through the period. The article then discusses two major trends within the data. The first is an overall increase in the number of titles published annually through the period, while the second is a declining interest by mass-market trade publishers in publishing books in the area from the 1980s onwards versus an increased publication rate by smaller independent presses and two large trade publishers with a particular interest in the area, one of which is also independently owned. The article concludes with a discussion of possible reasons for the latter trend in the context of ongoing debates about white Australian colonialism.' (Publication abstract)
Only a year or so ago I had been addressing an audience of trees out of frustration at the deafness of Australians to Indigenous issues. Now here I am, collecting and showcasing the powerful words of some of our great Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and orators. Perhaps the trees put in a good word for me. I like to think so.
'Anita Heiss's latest novel, Tiddas (Simon and Schuster, 2014), is a demonstration of the way Black Australian stories are surging through a wide variety of genres in Australian literature. The story explores friendship, family, books and the challenges and pleasures that women meet along life's pathways as culture, history, love and babies collide with the realities of modern Australia. Heiss, who has been described as inventing Aboriginal Chick Lit (or 'Chock Lit'), is a dynamic, committed writer with a social conscience. So many of the writers whose careers, lives and writing is showcased in BlackWords (the most popular project in the AustLit web resource) deal with the realities 'of living Black in Australia.' (Publication abstract)