Weaving blankets of stories and hearts of gold: an archival-poetic praxis

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My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer on his fifty-ninth birthday and after a fierce battle with his body and mind, he died two years later. In the face of all odds, he maintained optimism and hope. He could never accept the inevitable, and in the words of Dylan Thomas, he did indeed rage against the dying of the light. His courage, dignity and will shone bright until the very end.

On the first of many anniversaries after dad died, his birthday felt like the right time to begin weaving a basket from a selection of letters from the State’s Aborigines Protection Board and Children’s Welfare Board files, handwritten by my nanna and great-grandmother: a small contemplation on mourning, family history and the colonial archive, and the heart of my research at the time. These letters provided critical insight to our family’s histories and legacies otherwise smoothed over, hidden, or forgotten. They were replete with references to home, to family and a domestic-trained life controlled by the state and exposed another layer of trauma and resilience that is not widely known or considered in official accounts of history...
Original languageEnglish
JournalCordite Poetry Review
Issue number101
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • First Nations peoples
  • oral histories
  • archival -- poetics
  • family histories
  • Australia


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