17 August, 2013

Book Review: Anonymous Premonition

From Goodreads: From an authentic, powerful indigenous voice comes this body of poetry that examines issues of identity and culture from a woman's point of view. Lyrical yet radical, uplifting yet uncompromising, this collection evokes pride, painful memories, the realities of Aboriginal life and death, and the power of sisterhood to act as a tribute to the resiliency of Aboriginal women everywhere.

Thoughts: So the last category in my 13 in '13 challenge is poetry. I like poetyr, I wish I read more of it. I considered reading The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, a present from a friend which I love. But I love dipping into it. It's a casual, relaxed read and not one I wanted to be forced to read. So off I went cruising the shelves at work for something appropriate.
For the record I'm not a classics girls for poetry - no Keats or Cummings here - too much hard work. I like my poetry modern. Modern themes, modern phrasing. Poetry to me is most probably one of the most personal forms of writing and reading. If the words on the page don't sing to you, there is no point. You should never have to wade through poetry - it should jump off the page and embed itself in your soul.
There are a few things that attracted me to Yvette Holt's slim anthology. It's a collection of poetry written from such a personal stand point. It won the David Unaipon Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, and the bits I read as I flicked through were beautiful. Holt is a member of the Bidjara Nation, a group of indigenous Australians from Queensland. In her own words, she is:

& Best Friend

Caffeine free
& Chamomile
Sipping feminist

Human Rights
Child Protection
Domestic Violence
Immigration Laws
Socially active
Community worker
Desperately seeking
Social Justice


Bargain  hunting
Lay-by wearing
Credit card declining
Broke-arse Undergraduate
(Under sixty seconds)

Her poetry reflects her life growing up and her experiences as a woman, a mother and an Indigenous Australian. Her poetry gave me a small glimpse into her world, while reminding me that I can watch her struggles, sympathise with them, but I cannot share them. I can however, be incredulous (and incredibly amazed by some peoples audacity and small mindedness) about some of the experiences she has had.
In year one I was the quiet native
Two years later the friendly coloured girl
By year five, it was I, the inquisitive aborigine
Entering high school everyone wanted to be indigenous
When I disagreed with conformity, they would whisper, "Is it because she is black?"

On my very first day at work I was asked "what nationality are you", when I told them I was Aboriginal they replied, "But you look so clean."

Last year, hailing a taxi in George Street, Sydney, the driver asks, "Where are you from?" I ask the driver to take a wild guess, after surveying the paying customer in the back seat, he triggers the meter then casually replies, "You sure don't sound koori because you speak English very well".

There are some days when "others" may need to persevere with my silence...because there are some days when I may no longer have the inclination nor the fucking head space to educate your reply.
(Primary Education)

This to me is poetry at it's best. It speaks to the reader personally, bares the soul of the writer and allows a connection between the two.