Openings: Hooks and Hope

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Next week, an excerpt of the manuscript I’ve been writing will be sent to a number of agents and Australian publishers. I’m aware that I am very privileged to have this opportunity.

This draft novel,Where The Fruit Falls, has already opened up opportunities for me. It was short-listed in the 2017 Richell Prize. And selected into the 2018 Hardcopy professional development program for writers, which I was awarded a scholarship to attend.

And I am thankful that it (and I) have now been accepted to participate in the Hardcopy Going Public weekend in November. During this weekend, publishers and agents will provide the ten selected writers with confidential 1:1 feedback on the extracts of their manuscripts.

Which means I need to polish up mine. And ensure my opening has the type of hook that captures a reader’s attention from the very first sentence.

So I thought about openings of books I’ve read and liked. Currently on a 4-week writer in regional residence, my personal library is far away. But these books’ openings are embedded in my memory:

No living thing flew over the village of Gibbeah, neither fowl, not dove, nor crow. Yet few looked above, terrified should an omen come in a shriek or flutter.
John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James

My great-khalto Mariam collected colours and sorted them. Two generations later, I was named after her imaginary friend.
The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I always left my window open at night, despite the warnings I’d been given. I rarely did as I was told.
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

One afternoon on a weekend in March, Dewi Ayu rose from the grave after being dead for twenty-one years.
Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan

124 was spiteful. Full of baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children.
Beloved by Toni Morrison

And I noticed that they had similarities. These hooks not only lured me in, to keep reading to the last page, but to re-read them. Some, many times.

An avid reader, I know if I want to read a book from the first few sentances, if not the first. And I want readers to pick up my book (if it gets published) and not be able to put it down. Can I write an enticing opening? Can I hook readers with my first sentence?

I can try!

This is my revised first sentence:

That distinctive aroma of apples evoked many memories, but it was the beloved that lay on the bottom of a distant ocean that she now recalled.

Does it work? Do you need more?

Ok, this is the first paragraph:

That distinctive aroma of apples evoked many memories, but it was the beloved that lay on the bottom of a distant ocean that she now recalled. This particular aroma had been carried on a wisp of a wind that had travelled through the orchard outside her door, teasing ripe apples until they had dropped to the ground. That heady perfume of apples and first love was not the only thing that had arrived on her doorstep that afternoon.

It pales in the presence of the great openings I’ve shared here, but it is better than the original opening I had. I think. Hope. Maybe. Ugh!

Openings are frightening to write. Which is why, when we come across good openings, they often become firmly fixed in our memories.

Do you have any treasured openings to novels?

WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE

AUTHOR IN CEDUNA AS WRITERS SA’S WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE

re-posted from Writers SA website

Karen Wyld, an author, freelance writer and weaver, will spend a month in the Ceduna region working with the library and various community-based organisations to present activities for local writers and readers.

Karen’s residency is part of Writers SA’s Writers and Readers in Residence Project, in which South Australian writers undertake an artistic residency in regional communities to activate reading as well as writing in the town. The Writers and Readers in Residence Project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

“We are thrilled for Karen to spend this time in Ceduna,” Director of Writers SA, Jessica Alice, said. “This is invaluable time for Karen to reflect and write, while making meaningful connections with community in the region.”

From school holiday activities, to 1:1 support for new and emerging local writers, and involvement at the annual OysterFest, Karen will be developing and presenting a wide range of activities for readers and writers.

“I’m grateful to have been offered this experience. With a background in community development, youth work, Aboriginal health, and arts, I’m really looking forward to meeting a diverse range of organisations and working together to present activities for readers and writers of all ages,” Karen said.

As a freelancer, Karen writes trade book reviews for Books + Publishing and has op-eds published in NITV, Meanjin, Al Jazeera, Guardian Australia and Indigenous X. She has a piece in the Spring issue of Meanjin, which is a fictional telling of four girls in Western Australia, who were part of the Stolen Generations.

Her debut novel, When Rosa Came Home, was shortlisted for a SA Readers & Writers People’s Choice Award in 2015. Her draft manuscript, Where the Fruit Falls, was shortlisted for the Richell Prize in 2017.

Karen has just completed Hardcopy 2018, after being awarded the inaugural ACT Writers & First Nations Australia Writers Network Indigenous Writers Scholarship.

While in Ceduna, Karen will be editing her novel, Where the Fruit Falls, which she worked on during the Hardcopy professional development program for writers.

She will also be commencing her next project, Bestiarium Terra Nullius: peculiar beings of uninhabited southern lands, which is a series of three novellas. Following the journeys of maritime explorers, such as Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders, some of this work is based in the Great Australian Bight.

Karen has an interest in First Peoples and settler-colonial history. She said of this upcoming trip, “I will be traveling from my home by the sea, close to where Baudin and Flinders first met, along the coast they navigated, to write in a region that they also wrote about. And during my journey, I’ll be reflecting on first contact between these foreigners and the people of the country I will travel through—Ramindjeri, Kaurna, Narangga, Nukunu, Nauo, Barngarla, Wirangu, Mirning, Kokatha and Anangu.”

Karen will be in residency, on Wirangu country, between Monday 24 September and Monday 22 October 2018.

Karen will share updates of her residency and road-trip via Instagram, her blog and Twitter.

You can join Karen Wyld for a story-weaving workshop with Writers SA on Saturday 17 November, where within a yarning circle you will be taught how to weave a basket and learn the essentials of storytelling.

Remembering the Black Mist

 Originally published 19 September 2018 on Indigenous X

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Recently I viewed the Black Mist Burnt Country exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Launched on 27 September 2016, to mark the 60th anniversary of nuclear bomb testing at Maralinga in South Australia, the exhibition has already covered a lot of ground touring the eastern states.

This exhibition is a vivid and reflective collation that is raising awareness of the impact of nuclear testing in Australia. The cost for British and Australian army personnel and civilians was high. More so for Aboriginal people, who often weren’t even considered before the bombs went off.

Given re-emergence of interest in uranium mining and the proposal to construct waste dumps on Aboriginal lands, despite strong community opposition, this exhibition is also a stark reminder of how little some people have learnt from the past.

When British interest in nuclear testing became known, uranium deposits had only recently been discovered in Australia. Wishing to strengthen British protection post-war, newly-elected Prime Minister Menzies saw both security and economic opportunities in offering the British land for testing nuclear weaponry.

There was a lot of secrecy around these joint operations. Not only were citizens unaware of what was happening, in some cases even the Australian government was left in the dark by the British. Even now, many Australians are unaware of the historical background of British-led nuclear testing in Australia.

From 1956 to 1963, atomic bombs were set off in central South Australia, including at Maralinga. Prior to that, testing was conducted at Emu Field (SA, 1953) and Monte Bello Islands (WA, 1952 and 1956). The fallout from the last operation at Monte Bello Islands, off the Western Australian coast, reached Rockhampton on the Queensland coast.

Rockets were also tested in 1964. Detonated at the Woomera Protected Area (SA), the long-range path of the Blue Streak rockets moved across central SA to the Pilbara region (WA) and out to sea (between Broome and Port Hedland).

Aboriginal people were not consulted prior to any of these operations. They were often forcibly removed from the area or left to suffer the consequences of the fallout. There are no records of how many Aboriginal people became ill due to nuclear testing, or research into the generational health impact. Too many voices remain unheard.

Maralinga, meaning thunder in Garik language, is probably the most known nuclear weapon testing site in Australia. It was also the site where the most damage to people and environment was experienced.

Due to leftover plutonium, the land around the Maralinga testing range has remained toxic for many decades. After the British signed off responsibility in 1968, the Australian government has maintained control of the site.

In more recent years, the British government made minimal compensations to the surviving service personnel. And as a result of the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia, some compensation was provided to Anangu people, and for clean-up operations.

The Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 provided freehold title to Anangu. Remaining parts of the land, which had been part of the Woomera Prohibited Area, were handed back by the Defence Department in 2014.

Despite not having been consulted by previous governments, Aboriginal people have always been pivotal to movements that advocate for socially and environmentally responsible management of uranium – from mining, to transportation, usage, and disposal of waste. One example is the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA), which celebrated twenty years of activism in 2017.

And Aboriginal voices were embedded in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). A recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, ICAN was instrumental in lobbying the United Nations to agree to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

One of the most known voices for the anti-nuclear movement was Yami Lester (1949 – 2017). Yami Lester OAM, respected Anangu elder, educator and activist, was blinded by the nuclear fallout as a child.

It was Yami who first described the explosion at Maralinga as black mist, which the exhibition has taken as a title. Yami was a pioneer of the anti-nuclear movement, and his image rightfully takes centre place in the Black Mist Burnt Ground exhibition.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Karina Lester is one of many representatives of First Peoples voices within ICAN. This campaign includes 400 international organisations, so Karina has exchanged personal/familial stories of nuclear testing and warfare with First Peoples from around the globe. Her sister Rose is also a strong advocate.

The British and Australian government nuclear weaponry testing is part of the truth-telling that many are now engaging in. Raising awareness of settler-colonial history helps people to better understand the impact of colonialisation on First Peoples. Sharing stories, such as those from Maralinga, can also inform current decision-making – to stop the past repeating.

Top 4 books about Maralinga
If you’d like to learn more about nuclear testing at Maralinga, I recommend these four books.

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Maralinga, the Anangu Story by Yalata and Oak Valley communities, with Christobel Mattingley

An illustrated children’s’ book, capturing community stories.

Mima Smart: “Our story is a very important story that needs to be heard by children and adults across our country.”

 

m3.pngAtomic Thunder: The Maralinga Story by Elizabeth Tynan

Liz Tynan is an academic and former science journalist who has been researching British atomic tests in Australia for many years.

“In 1950 Australian prime minister Robert Menzies blithely agreed to atomic tests that offered no benefit to Australia and relinquished control over them – and left the public completely in the dark.”

 

 

m4.pngMaralinga’s Long Shadow: Yvonne’s Story by Christobel Mattingley

This book features the recollections of Yvonne Edwards (1950 – 2012), artist and community leader, on the impact that the nuclear tests had on herself and family.

‘Grandfather and Grandmother telling lots of stories. They had to live at Yalata. Their home was bombed. That was their home where the bomb went off. They thought it was mamu tjuta, evil spirits, coming. Everyone was frightened, thinking about people back in the bush. Didn’t know what bomb was. Later told it was poison. Parents and grandparents really wanted to go home, used to talk all the time to get their land back.’ Yvonne Edwards.

 

m5.pngCleared Out: First Contact in the Western Desert by Peter ohnson, Yuwali Nixon and Susan Davenport.

Through primary documents and personal recollections of Martu women, this book gives a behind the scenes look at rocket testing in the western desert in 1964. Patrols were instructed to track down a group of Martu women and children, who’d had no prior contact with settler-colonials, and remove them from their country.

 

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Maralinga: the chilling expose of our secret by Frank Walker

An investigative journalist, Frank Walker’s book focuses on the impact that this testing had on scientists and British and Australian armed forces personnel.

 

 

 

More resources on nuclear and rocket testing on Aboriginal lands is available via the Black Mist Burnt Country catalogue and educational resources

 

Sovereign People, Sovereign Stories: Five Books by First Nations Writers

This piece was originally published on Indigenous X 29 August 2019

Over seventy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers, poets and playwrights recently gathered in Canberra. From 23 to 26 August 2018, this third national gathering presented by First Nations Writers Network (FNAWN) provided spaces for writers to talk craft and aspirations

The workshop theme Sovereign People: Sovereign Stories was apt, given many First Nations writers use story to highlight issues of relevance to their communities – from recent times, right back to the invasion – and to imagine a fairer future.

FNAWN also co-presented an inspiring evening with Canberra Writers Festival at the National Library of Australia on 25 Augusts. Introduced by Chella Goldwin from Us Mob Writing, poets Ellen van Neervan, Charmaine Papertalk Green, Jeanine Leane and Yvette Holt read poems in response to the NAIDOC 2018 theme Because of Her We Can.

This was followed by a panel discussion hosted by Cathie Craigie with Alexis Wright (via Skype), Kim Scott and Melissa Lucashenko, on the theme Sovereign People: Sovereign Stories.

Observing new writers talking passionately at the FNAWN workshop with some of Australia’s most awarded writers, it’s evident that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers have established themselves as an unstoppable force within Australian literature.

To present a complete list of publications by the writers that attended the FNAWN workshop would be a daunting task. Instead, I have compiled a short list of recent books by a few of the presenters.

Taboo  by Kim Scott
Pan Macmillan (2017)

Kim Scott is a Noongar man from Western Australia and an established writer of much esteem. Kim is Chair of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Story Project and Professor of Writing in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University.

He has been shortlisted for three Miles Franklin Awards, and the recipient of two. Taboo, Kim’s fourth book, was the recipient of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Book of the Year and Indigenous Writers Prize.

Taboo explores facing up to the past, no matter how difficult that might be. Set in rural south-west WA, it tells the story of a group of Wirlomin Noongar people who revisit a massacre site after many generations. They have been invited by the elderly owner of the farm on which the colonial violence occurred, who wishes to fulfil his wife’s dying wish for reconciliation.

Parts of the story are brutal, overlapping past violence with a current generation that is dealing with racism, abuse, addiction and incarceration. This is balanced with language revival, reconnecting with land, decolonisation, and a sense of hope.

In reviewing Taboo, Melissa Lucashenko stated “This is a complex, thoughtful and exceptionally generous offering by a master storyteller at the top of his game.”

Tracker by Alexis Wright
Giramondo Publishing (2017)

Alexis Wright, a Waanyi woman, is an award-winning writer from Queensland. A past recipient of the Miles Franklin, Victoria and Queensland Premiers’ Literary Awards, Alexis Wright’s latest book, Tracker, was awarded the 2018 Stella Prize and 2018 Magarey Medal.

She is currently the Boisbouvier Chair in Australian Literature at the University of Melbourne.

Tracker is a biography of Tracker Tilmouth, an Aboriginal activist and visionary who passed away in 2015.

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko
University of Queensland Press (2018)

Melissa Lucashenko, a Goorie writer, has set her latest novel on Bundjalung country in New South Wales. Melissa was awarded the 2016 CAL Fellowship to work on Too Much Lip.

Melissa is the past recipient of the Deloitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction and the Victorian Premiers Prize for Indigenous Writing. She is also a Walkley Award winner for non-fiction.

Released in August 2018, Too Much Lip has already received strong reviews. Melissa’s sense of humour and intellect shines though in this modern story, as does hidden histories. Melissa has said that she felt as if her great-grandmother was her muse throughout the writing of this novel.

The protagonist Kerry Salter returns home on a stolen motorbike to pay her respects to her grandfather, who is dying. Amongst the drama of family dysfunction and Kerry’s attraction to an outsider, there is the fight for the Salter’s ancestral lands.

False Claims of Colonial Thieves  by Charmaine Papertalk Green and John Kinsella Magabala Books (2018)

Charmaine Papertalk Green is a Wajarra, Badimaya and Yamaji woman from Western Australia. A visual and installation artist, Charmaine has been writing poetry since the 1970s.

False Claims of Colonial Thieves is a collaboration between Charmaine and John Kinsella, a well-known Western Australian poet.

This book of poetry explores identity, colonisation, politics, hope and country by weaving together the voices of a Yamaji and non-Indigenous writer.

Sorry Day by Dub Leffler and Coral Vass
National Library of Australia (2018)

Dub Leffler, a descendant of the Bigambul people of south-west Queensland, is a writer and illustrator of children’s literature. His award-winning books are sold internationally. He has written two books and illustrated 23.

Sorry Day was developed with Melbourne-based children’s writer Coral Vass. Through entwining two stories, the book highlights the importance of the Apology to the Stolen Generations – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children removed under past government policies. Sorry Day is suitable for readers aged 5+ and is suitable for starting discussions about Australian history.

 

Wild Women and Rebel Girls

Originally published on Indigenous X 12 July 2018

NAIDOC 2018 theme Because of her, we can has put the spotlight on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. All around Australia, people are sharing stories of the strong, caring, resilient and successful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in their lives – past, present and future.

There is strength in knowing that First Peoples have been refusing to sit down, be compliant, give up or be silenced since invasion. Below are a few of these inspirational wild women and rebel girls. It is because of them, that we can and we do.

Fight like an Amazon

Born in 1800, Tarenorerer (also known as Te Nor) was a Tommeginne/Plair-Leke-Liller-Plue woman that fought back. Tarenorerer was abducted as a teenager and sold to white sealers living on the Bass Strait Islands. They called her Walyer. Sealers kept Aboriginal women and girls as slaves, often subjecting them to rape and assault.

From a young age Tarenorerer witnessed and experienced settler-colonial violence, but she refused to become servient to the sealers, and other invaders. Tarenorerer escaped and returned to mainland Tasmania in 1828.

In the north, she gathered Aboriginal women and men from different groups. Tarenorerer showed them how to use firearms and guerrilla warfare tactics, including attacks on colonialists’ sources of food and economics. She then led this group of resistance fighters, which included her brothers and sisters, against the settler-colonists.

Tarenorerer soon became infamous. G. A. Robinson, Protector of Aborigines, called her the Amazon of Van Diemen’s Land, after he heard how Tarenorerer would taunt men to come and fight her. She is known for saying that she ‘liked a luta tawin (white man) as she did a black snake’.

Abducted by sealers again, Tarnorerer was taken to the Hunter Islands. On Bird Island she was forced to hunt mutton birds for the sealers. There, she hid her identity by taking the name Mary Anne.

She was then given to John Williams, who lived with a group of white men, and the Aboriginal women they’d taken captive, on Forsyth Island. In 1930, she was moved to Swan Island, where her true identity was revealed.

Robinson ordered her to be kept in isolation, as he feared she’d lead another revolt. Sadly, Tarnorerer, undoubtably a courageous young woman, died from influenza in 1831.

Badimaya artist Julie Dowling payed tribute to Tarenorerer in her painting Walyer(2006)

When enough is enough

Daisy Bindi (Mumaring), a Nyangumartu woman, was born on the edge of the Gibson Desert around 1904. Her early life was spent on a cattle-station near Jigalong Depot (later known as Jigalong Aboriginal Reserve). As a child she helped her mother, who was a domestic on Ethel Creek station. Daisy became an accomplished horsewoman and worked alongside the men.

Concerned about working conditions and lack of wages for Aboriginal station hands, as well as ongoing police harassment, Daisy stood up alongside others that led the 1946 Pilbara strike. 500 men, women and children walked off the stations south of Nullagine, making their way to Port Hedland.

Daisy’s contributions were also instrumental in the worker’s rights movement spreading to inland Pilbara stations. Despite push back from authorities and settler-colonists, including violence towards the Aboriginal strikers, Daisy and the other station-workers stood their ground for three-years.

After a fall from a horse resulted in a leg amputation in 1959, Daisy turned her attention to access to education for Aboriginal children. Finding support from the Union of Australian Women in Perth, she successfully lobbied for a school in Pindan.

Daisy passed away in Port Hedland in 1962. Noonuccal poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s (1920 – 1993) wrote a poem about Daisy Bindi in The Dawn is at Hand.

Uncaged birds sing the sweetest songs

Martu women Molly, Daisy and Gracie were well-known for the legendary great escape that inspired the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Sisters Molly and Daisy Craig, and their cousin Gracie Fields, were forcibly removed from their families in 1931. For many decades, Aboriginal children of mixed ancestry were removed by the government to force assimilation into white society. The children were sent to government or church-run institutions to be taught basic skills, before being allocated to white households or stations as unpaid child labour.

In August of 1931, Molly (14), Gracie (10) and Daisy (8) were sent to Moore River Native Settlement, but quickly absconded. Following Molly’s lead, the girls used the rabbit fence to navigate the 2414 kms walk home to Jigalong. Sadly, Gracie was re-captured before making it home.

Nana Molly eluded authorities many times as a young woman, keeping herself and her daughters safe. She walked the fence a second time in 1941, after freeing her baby daughter from Moore River Native [sic] Settlement. She was forced to leave behind her four-year old daughter, in the care of a family member that was at the Settlement. By 1944, both daughters had been removed from her care.

Tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed under these race-based polices, and they are known as the Stolen Generations.

Gracie Fields died in her early 60s, in 1983. Nana Molly (Craig) Kelly lived on Country, at Jigalong, until she passed away in 2004 at 87 years. Daisy (Craig) Kadibill lived most of her life in the Martu community of Parnngurr. She achieved her wish of returning home to Jigalong before she passed away on 30 March of this year, at the age of 95.

Molly, Daisy and Gracie’s escape inspired Molly’s oldest daughter Doris Nugi Garimara Pilkingtonto write Follow The Rabbit-Proof Fence(1996). Molly’s life also inspired the sequel Under The Wintamarra Tree(2002).

Auntie Doris passed away in 2014 at the age of 77 years, in Perth. Remembered around the world as a strong voice for the Stolen Generations, she was the matriarch of over 100 direct descendants.

Stand strong, like an ancient tree

The fight for country and kin continues, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman often taking the lead. The current Djap Warring Embassy in Victoria is one example of standing strong.

In the Ararat region over 260 ancient trees are marked to be bulldozed, to make way for the Western Highway project. These trees, including a culturally-significant birthing tree, are sacred to the Djap Wurrung peoples.

Young Aboriginal people, such as Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, are standing alongside Elders and community to protect these trees.

Because of her, we will

This year, NAIDOC has been a chance to honour the women that have come before us. And it is a theme that gives hope, as we look around us. Across Australia there are countless young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speaking up to power, refusing to sit down. The future is in good hands.

Sorry for what

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Statue of the Grieving Mother, Colebrook Home memorial, Eden Hills SA. Photo taken by Karen Wyld

The twentieth national Sorry Day was held on the 26 May 2018. It’s now twenty-one years since the release of Bringing Them Home, the report and recommendations resulting from the National Inquiry into the Stolen Generations. Twenty-one years later, and just a handful of the fifty-four recommendations have been actioned.

Holding an annual day to commemorate the removal of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was one of those recommendations. And so was an apology from the federal government for those forced removals. That apology occurred ten years ago. So what still needs to be said?

There are three untruths that are collectively told when it comes to systemic injustice: It was for their own good. There was a higher purpose in mind. We didn’t know.

These untruths are told about the removal of Aboriginal children to mask the wrongs of the not so distant past. And the present wrongs.

Removal of First Peoples’ children is a core step in the process of invade and conquer. The British invaded a lot of countries over a fairly short span of time. Most of these nations remain under the Commonwealth to this day. This nation-building on stolen lands was achieved with the labour of stolen peoples.

For most of the twentieth century, Aboriginal children were removed for a number of reasons. ‘For their own good’ was not one of them. Children were mostly removed to be trained, before being allocated to settler-colonisers as unpaid labour. The state formed race-based policies to control the children, and churches managed the institutions that held them captive.

I’ve listened to many survivors share their removal stories and have read enough primary documents to have no doubt at all that what occurred was not altruistic. Using dehumanised language, these documents clearly show the intent of policies and actions that controlled First Peoples. Real and perceived relationships, and even fertility, of Aboriginal women and girls is recorded as meticulously as farmers documenting the breeding of their stock.

A O Neville’s writings come to mind. The calculated way he controlled Aboriginal women and children’s lives. And his pseudo-scientific fascination with the ‘breeding out’ of Aboriginality. There was no good intent or higher purpose.

In official correspondence, Neville stated that my grandmother caused the government much embarrassment and expense when she twice escaped capture. So it was only a matter of time before the government came for her daughters. If I had not been born across the border, I may have had a similar fate.

Once removed, Aboriginal children were given a very basic education. The girls were trained to be domestics, and the boys as labourers. Some of these children were sent out to work on stations and in non-Indigenous peoples’ houses when barely adolescents. Those who benefited from their services often payed government authorities for this labour, or the church-run institutions where the children had previously been held.

Babies born as a result of white men’s abuse of power or rape whilst Aboriginal girls were in these forced-working arrangements were themselves institutionalised. Becoming part of this cycle of captured childhoods and fractured families.

Holding unsavoury truths, it’s hard to muster the energy to assist non-Indigenous Australians to gain a better understanding of Sorry Day. Twenty years of Sorry Days and the conversations have barely shifted. And, too often, white people will centre themselves. The healing becomes driven by their grappling with white guilt, discussions are in defence of the ‘good intent’ of the churches who participated in this injustice, and those that truly matter are pushed to the side.

But we, First Peoples, continue to wrap the ageing stolen children in love and understanding. We feel the pain of their parents’ empty arms. We acknowledged the hurt and anger of the children and grandchildren of the stolen generations. We work towards healing.

And still we are expected to make space for non-Indigenous people’s tears, their thoughts on ‘progress’, and uniformed opinions of why the children were taken. This takes a lot of energy and hope and forgiveness and restraint. It’s exhausting.

Myths are also exhausting. Such as the notion that this all occurred in the distant past. Children were still being removed to be used as a labour force until the late 1950s. Children were still being removed under overtly racist policies in the 1960s. The language changed by the 1980s, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still being removed disproportionally.

Just as nearly every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person has family members who are part of the stolen generations, many Australians had contact with a stolen child. Did you grandparents have a child slave? Did your parents tell you stories about the children’s home at the end of the road, where all those black kids from the country lived? Did you have a child sleeping in your family’s back bedroom, who was not quite a sibling? Did you tease that ‘orphan’ at school, the one that did not look like you or your school mates?

Tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were removed, to be forever known as the stolen generations. They were held captive in full sight. People knew.

It was not for their own good. There was no higher purpose. Enough white people knew to collectively stop what was happening – they chose not to.

Sorry Day commemorates loss, and is a day where untruths are not welcomed.

 

Edited version of article published on Indigenous X, 26 May 2018.

Road-trip for one

I’ve finally decided! I am driving to Canberra in the morning. My bags aren’t packed, but the CDs are. What is a road-trip without a soundtrack?

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My Dodge Avenger is ready. After a year of being stuck in a garage, and the last few months of just local drives – she’s going to love this trip. As will I.

I really need to be on the open road. Sure, I could fly, but soaring is much better.

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So why am I going to Canberra? To write. And to learn how to write gooder.

I recently received the inaugural FNAWN Hardcopy Scholarship. This enables me to participate in Hardcopy, a highly-regarded professional development program for writers. This funding will help me get to the two residential workshops. The first being this Friday to Sunday, with the welcome reception on Thursday afternoon.

I’ll be posting updates on this website/blog and on Patreon. And sharing photos of the trip there/back via Instagram. And, of course, twitter.

It’s 11 pm. I’d better pack! See you on the road 🙂

Karen

 

 

Requiem

Put down your wounded
Open the windows
Let regrets fly free

Bring out your dreams
Tie ribbons to their talons
So they may frolic with sparrows

Touch the torch to the pyre
And watch your fears burn
Ashes to ashes

Stop the clock turn the mirrors
For nothing will ever be
The same again

What are we really celebrating?

Republished article. Original published on Indigenous X on 22 January, under the title of What kind of morality are they wanting us to celebrate on that day? as part of the Indigenous X Change The Date series. Support Indigenous media by becoming an Indigenous X patron on Patreon.

What are we really celebrating?

KAREN WYLD IS AN AUTHOR, FREELANCE WRITER AND CONSULTANT OF MARTU DESCENT, LIVING ON KAURNA LANDS.

That Day was once Many Days, as each state held their foundation days at different times of the year. The cry for a national day on 26 January came from the Australian Natives’ [sic] Association. Being vocal supporters of the White Australia policy, this Association’s membership was exclusively Australian-born white men of European descent. Their vision was a nation of people that shared the same laws, politics, culture, and ancestry.

That Day was never meant to symbolise unity or fairness.

People have been critical of That Day since it was first proposed, because behind the current date is a story of conflict and shame.

That Day: Invasion Day, Survival Day, Day of Mourning, Australia Day. A public holiday. A day of bbqs, fun in the sun, overblown nationalism, sorrow, and a spreading uneasiness.

In the lead up to That Day many stories are told in the media, in homes and the public sphere. Some of these stories have drifted far from the truth. And little wonder, for this nation was also built on fiction. And, in the great Aussie tradition, yarns of nation-building become more fanciful with each telling.

That Day is the beginning of a story, but this Once Upon A Time is told from many points of view. For some, it is a boys’ own adventure, filled with explorers, new frontiers and strange hopping beasts. For others, it’s an epic tale of founding fathers planting a flag on the no-longer mythical Terra Australis Incognita, benevolently granting the natives ‘civilisation’ and a wrathful god.

And there are other versions of this story. Truths that many have tried to erase from both books and memories, and even the tongues of First Peoples. Accounts of invasion, waves of violence, loss and grief, and culturally-biased control – as well as resistance, self-determination, strength and survival.

This continent has always been a land of story. For over 60,000 years songlines have criss-crossed over the land, out to the sea, and up into the skies. The British invaders, and later settlers from all corners of the globe, brought with them their own stories. As colonisation spread out across this continent, new stories were etched into ancient grounds.

The first of the new stories were that of Invasions. Horrific stories of massacres, murder, torture, kidnapping, and rape. English invasion of this continent was not a one-off event as, over many decades, more than 500 territories were invaded.

Crops Sown in Blood is the next chapter. Again, more of the above violence, with the addition of using slaves to plant colonial roots on stolen lands. Both First Peoples from this continent and other oceanic nations were coerced, or kidnapped and forced, to work for the colonists.

Then came the stories of Cultural Genocide. As settler-colonisation took root, so did the drive to alter the social structures, lifeways and cultures of First Peoples. This chapter features expulsion from ancestral lands; segregation; forcible removal of children to be assimilated, often trained for servitude; the forced coercercion towards Christianity; incarceration on missions and in children’s’ homes, accompanied by bans on cultural practices, languages, and law.

And there were new peoples to exclude, control and oppress; migrants that had managed to evade the White Australia policy that enforced racially-biased immigration. In a settler-colonisation, some people are more equal than others.

The Great Forgetting is the part of the story in which we now find ourselves: government, media and white academia control the narrative and whitewash history.

Through putting social pressure on migrants and their descendants to assimilate, the settler-colonisation minimalises unrest. And if anyone questions the narrative, then they are divisive. Un-Australian. And are told to go back to where they come from.

Of course, First Peoples aren’t to go back to where they come from. No, we must move on. Forget 230 years of violence, loss & grief, theft, and inequities – just be quiet.

These are just some of the stories whitewashed by a public holiday on 26 January. And into these big stories are woven 24 million equally important stories. How we all came to be here influences how we see here.

My ancestors were colonists (English), settlers (Irish) and First Peoples (Martu). You could say that I embody a nation in conflict. I’ve reflected on the role that my non-Indigenous fore-bearers had in supporting a status quo that disadvantaged First Peoples. But the not too distant draconian and racially-biased actions of governments, and the culturally-biased paternalism of missionaries, have had a direct impact on my life. This connects me to the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors – white and blak.

Do I feel lucky to have been born here? Absolutely. Am I proud to be Australian. No. Not when the government, the opposition, and far too many citizens, show a lack of humanity towards First Peoples, refugees, and others who suffer the blows of inequity, bigotry and greed.

Stories, from songlines to colonial tales, the macro (nation) and the micro (individuals), are embed in the soil that we all call home. The story of That Day began in bloodshed and theft. It began with an invasion of Eora country, with the First Fleet planting a foreign nation’s flag on the lands of the Gadigal people.

The past cannot be changed but the next chapter is yet to be written. We can choose to unite these conflicting story-threads. We can choose to tell a story grounded in truth, justice, and a shared vision for the future.

That Day does not allow this process to happen.

Australia needs to collectively stop disrespecting a solemn day of memorial, and remove the public holiday from 26 January. And then change the day. Not just the date. Change the day to tell the real stories of Australia. If we cannot even manage to tell truthful stories, we cannot address the ongoing injustices caused by colonisation.  If we continue to give preference to a whitewashed history, then what are settler-colonists really celebrating every Australia Day, regardless of the date? Attempted conquest.

 

Choices, alternatives, and giving corporate greed the finger

Note: Patreon have since announced that they will not be rolling out the changes in fees. I will stay on Patreon plus still offer the alternatives via this website. 
Dear Patrons,

Thank you for sticking by me, even if it’s just until I have made alternative plans.

Unlike some creators on Patreon, I’ve only said good-bye to a few valued patrons. And I totally understand why they have unsubscribed.

In response to messages I had about alternative ways to be my patron, I have set up a few choices. They are a bit rough, until I properly research free plug-ins for my website.Of course you are welcome to stay on this platform with me. I will continue to post updates here, and honour all the rewards.

Otherwise, alternatives ways to be my patron, where I carry the costs and not you, are –

For one off contributions to me as a creator, there are two choices:

  • A payme link (also found in my twitter bio) connected to my personal PayPal account.
  • A pay now button on my website, connected to my merchant PayPal account (with added customer protections).

Monthly subscriptions:
There is now a range of monthly subscriptions ($1, $3, $5 and $10) on my website.

These subscriptions are not linked to anything but soon I will add either a members only page or monthly e-newsletter via MailChimp. I will NOT add any one to a e-newsletter unless permission is granted, as emails can be annoying.

Eventually, I will offer patron/subscriber rewards and gifts.

And my temporary online clearance ‘store’ still has some great book bargains. All at cost price or lower, and free postage (Australia only)

Once again, I thank you for your patience and invaluable support. Some months, your contributions have been my only source of income. So I cannot thank you enough.

See you around – here, on twitter, on my website, and perhaps even in ‘real life’.

Much gratitude,
Karen

Terra Australis Cognitus

Hendrik Hondius Polus Antarcticus

Hendrik Hondius Polus Antarcticus

As usual for me, I’m already plotting and researching the next book, whilst still finishing the current manuscript. And, as usual for a writer drawn to magic realism as a socio-political storytelling device, it involves truth-telling of the macro (historical events, including injustices) through the micro (everyday life).

The next book comes from my fascination with the intersection of European superstition, religion and science during the 17 to 19th centuries, and the impact that has had on First Peoples (Australia). Focusing on the baggage that explorers, privateers and other pirates carried with them as they sailed the seas in search of fame, power and fortunes, I’ve delved back in to the history books.

Of course my envisioned fictional interpretation will include invasion, massacres, genocide, land/resource theft, and forced assimilation. It will look at the culturally biased reasoning behind these abhorrent actions. The foundations of systemic racism in Australia. In a way, this next story is an attempt to deconstruct racism and explore hope, through fiction as opposed to twitter rants.

Honestly, I am tired of talking about racism. I’d much rather we were at a stage of collective consciousness where it didn’t exist anymore. Or at least a critical mass working on mitigation of the harm racism causes. Instead, in Australia we are still having the ‘yes that is racist. And that. Can you at least listen? Urgh!’ conversation.

Delving in to Australian history, discussions about racism need to include facing up to theft. How can we talk about justice if we can’t talk about injustice? And as Australia was founded on a rolling-wave of robbery, then let’s talk about that.

In the seventeenth century, the legend of Terra Australis Incognita played on many a man’s imagination. The mythical unknown lands of the south were once thought to contain riches beyond belief, and perhaps a few scary monsters. The idea of Terra Australis came from a theory of balance – land mass/es of equal weight of those in the north must exist in the south.

Although scientific exploration was behind the searches for this unknown southern land, it was commerce that enabled the journeying. France, England, Portugal, Spain and Holland were all racing to find the best sources of spices, fabrics, wood, precious minerals, and more. And that meant finding the safest, most economical passages to these foreign lands. Wars were staged, pacts were made and unmade, unsavoury weather was endured, and new sea routes were opened. And still, the myth of Terra Australis Incognita existed.

Whilst it was England that first mapped the entire perimeter of the great southern land, documenting that it was indeed a separate continent, over a hundred years prior the Dutch were the first Europeans to set foot on this land. And the Spanish were the first Europeans to note that it was not connected to nearby land masses, such as New Guinea, as previously thought.

There were a few factors that stopped these other European nations from invading the territories of the First Peoples of the great southern land. And there was also the more ethical nations that came here to trade decades before the Europeans, such as the Makassans.

Of all the nations, it was the English who invaded, and set in place many decades of theft and violence. And they brought with them the seeds of systemic racism. Would things have been different if another European nation had ‘claimed’ this land? Probably not. Although, there is a slim possibility that they would have plundered the resources, and then left.

Terra Nullius was the lie that Australia was founded on. A culturally-biased belief that the land belonged to nobody. And this conclusion was reached by the English invaders’ believing that the First Peoples were not equal to them. In fact, they were not even seen as people. The earliest colonisers may have tried to justify their rationale with science, and even religion and economics, but at the very root of the violent occupation was racism.

And so the many decades of *Terra Furatus commenced. Theft of land. Which could not have occurred without Hominem Furatus. (attempted) theft of humanness. (*excuse the Latin via Google)

Racism is the denial of another’s humanness. This denial occurs on an individual basis (discrimination, antagonism, violence etc) and systemic (forced assimilation, inequitable services/treatment, police/custodial violence etc). Until systems of power (law, policing, governance, economics) and systems for people (education, health, commerce, social services) acknowledge inbuilt unconscious bias, then much needed societal change will be difficult to bring about.

The crimes of colonisation need to be acknowledged. The violence and theft need to be taught in schools and universities, and in workplaces/sectors. And this includes a more honest discourse on the world views of those who did the deeds – the explorers, the privateers, the missionaries, the pastoralists, the mavericks, the scientists, the politicians, the ‘heroes’ of history. Even if that is uncomfortable for those who now reside on stolen lands. There can be no justice until the past is acknowledged. And myths are debunked.

There was never a Terra Australis Incognita. It was just a myth that led to invasion and centuries of ongoing settler colonisation. To the First Peoples who’d been living on the great southern lands for 80,000 years, and to their neighbouring nations across the seas, this land was Cognitus > known. What was unknown before the arrival of Europeans was racism. And the many injustices that have racism at their core.

Justice is the logical next step. And justice can take many forms – treaty/ies, truth-telling, land rights, retribution, repatriation, plus more. But justice won’t be possible until the widespread unconscious bias is no longer denied, and the harmful impacts of racism are addressed.

The past can show us the way forward. Researching history leaves me in awe of the courage and achievements of those long dead. Imagine what future generations can achieve if we, the present, are committed to being brave, truthful, and empathetic. Many nations around the globe seem to be in a dark age, but I still have hope.

Illustration: Hendrik Hondius’s plate. Originally published in 1637. Above version is from Jansson’s Grooten Atlas, showing Tasman’s explorations of the western coastline of New Holland, ‘Nova Hollandia detect Anno 1644’, the southern tip of Van Dieman’s Land and an edge of New Zealand. Source: State Library NSW – http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/collection-items/polus-antarcticus 

Support me to keep writing
If you like what you read on this site, please consider supporting me to keep on writing. There’s a PayPal button on this page (see top right-hand corner. Or drop-down box on some hand-held devices)

Or buy some leftover stock from my ex-bookshop – all heavily discounted.

And I am also on Patreon

You can also find me on
twitter @1KarenWyld

Instagram @meanderingwyld

 

When being a writer is no longer fiction

20170905_140449Spring is here – in theory. And August is finally over. Its my least favourite month of the year. Now that September has arrived, the weather might still scream winter but there are strong signs of new beginnings.

Post-bookshop, I’m finally getting back on my feet. I’m still in debt, but not as severe, and I’ve almost caught up with mortgage arrears.

There is a mountain of books on my dining room table, which I really need to clear. Now that I’ve mastered the set up of a basic eCommerce site, I am selling the leftover books at discounted prices. Shipping is set for Australia, but if you send me an enquiry I can give a quote for overseas shipping (note: it won’t be cheap).

If you were wondering – yes, that is a photo of me. For those that know me offline, you’d know how much I hate photos of myself. So this is a very rare photo. But this week I had to bite the bullet, do a quick read up on ‘how to take selfies for the middle-aged & ugly’, and then just do it! Because I had an opinion piece accepted by Al Jazeera, and they insisted on a bio photo. So the choice was to run and hide (like I usually do when the word ‘photo’ is mentioned), or to just do it. This time, I made the choice not to hide.

Talking about being published, I’ve had a piece published on the Indigenous X site. It’s about ongoing administration issues with government funding for First Peoples in Australia. This article was updated and republished on Independent Australia as Not ‘Closing the Gap’: Nigel Scullion and Indigenous Funding Failure .

Seems like I’ve become an accidental journo. Later this month I have a reporting assignment at the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association’s conference. In addition to being a great Indigenous-led organisation, its their 20th year, so I am really looking forward to their conference.

The conference reporting I am doing is in collaboration with Croakey news services. The first conference I reported on was for First Peoples Disability Network in June. I wrote two pieces on that event, including a conference wrap up, as well as tweeting and live video interviews.

I’ve had some consultancy and freelance writing work post-bookshop, but its not resulting in enough income to support a household. So I’ve started applying for jobs. I’ve had a couple of interviews, but not landed a job as yet. Looks like I need to keep promoting my consultancy services.

I recently started managing the newsletter, blog/website  and twitter account (@FNAWN_) for First Nations Australia Writers Network. FNAWN is a great organisation, and I’m pleased to be contributing to their growth.

And time for the really exciting news – last week I discovered that I had made the long-list for the 2017 Richell Prize! This was such an unexpected surprise. I entered the first three chapters of my work-in-progress, Where The Fruit Falls. The prize includes mentoring, to help shape a draft into a manuscript that is hopefully publishable.

The Richell Prize is presented by Hachette Australia, in memory of Matt Richell who passed away suddenly in 2014. Partners in this prize include The Guardian and Emerging Writers Festival. The short-list will be announced early October, and the prize winner in November. I’m not expecting to make it to the next stage, but that won’t stop me from feeling very pleased to have got this far.

And it gives me renewed inspiration to finish this manuscript. Its been put on hold for far too long, due to sorry business, family responsibilities, financial crises and, in general, the ups and downs of now being a member of the sandwich generation.

Anyway – onwards and upwards. And, now that spring is in the air, perhaps I can even dare to dream of getting back on a motorbike…….

Support me to keep writing
If you like what you read on this site, please consider supporting me to keep on writing. There’s a PayPal button on this page (see top right-hand corner. Or drop-down box on some hand-held devices)

Or buy some leftover stock from my ex-bookshop – all heavily discounted.

And I am also on Patreon

You can also find me on
twitter @1KarenWyld

Instagram @meanderingwyld

Lot 2: son of a basket

 

This second item in my Silent Auction of Stories is hand-made. By me. And it has a story.

First, what is it:

This basket has been made with natural and dyed raffia, using a pierce-and-sew method. It features two side-handles. It’s a fairly large basket, being 16 cm high with a diameter of 34 cm.

Its story:

Did you know that baskets are actually just stories in another form? Each one holds stories. And you can feel these when you pick them up. They have within them the story of their creator, and how they were feeling at the time they made the basket. And the stories of the land they were made on, and the conversations overheard as each layer of the basket was created. So no wonder I, a storyteller, weave baskets.

This basket is a replica of another basket I made. Both were made early in my weaving phase. I prefer the original but this son of that basket is okay. And has an interesting tale.

In 2007 I was selected to be part of a Womad artist in residence program, facilitated by Sandy Elverd. It involved a group of textile artist from around the world, working with the Tjanpi Desert Weavers.

There were about 20 women, and we worked solidly for about five days to create an installation that was a feature of Womadelaide 2007. We created a life-sized desert camp scene – fireside, utensils, people, camp dogs and fauna all made from grasses, wool and other fibre. The basket and fibre-bushfoods on my home page were made as part of that installation. That basket has it own story – but that would be too much of a digression.

Working with the Tjanpi Weavers on that installation was an amazing experience. I learnt some new weaving techniques from some of the most prominent Aboriginal weavers in Australia. And time spent in a weaving circle is full of laughter, cultural learnings, and lots of sharing of stories.

I’d recently started the Southern Weavers Group, as part of my role as a community development officer. This project provided a regular social activity for local elders, as well as a means to talk about health, diet and lifestyle (due to funding through an arts and health program). Younger women also participated in some of the activities, such as weaving camps. It developed into a social enterprise, which is still in existence, as the elders are paid to teach weaving in schools and community events. These sessions involve raising non-Indigenous people’s awareness through sharing of stories.

I used a train-the-trainer approach, by accompanying one or more members of the group to workshops and conferences, so we could learn both business and weaving techniques from other First Peoples around Australia. Some of the women had learnt sedge-grass weaving from their elders, as children, so the program was both a re-learning their own cultural weaving and learning new techniques from other regions.

One day, while making grass-sculptures and baskets with the Tjanpi Weavers, I felt a bit guilty that I was there and not any of the elders from the Southern Weavers group. So I asked if I could invite a few, and the next day Aunty Rose came with me. Aunty is now gone, but I still remember spending that day with her and the Tjanpi weavers. That is one of the stories that are within the baskets we made.

As an artist in resident, we were provided with weekend passes to Womad, where we ran weaving workshops for attendees. I’d never been able to afford to go before, and had always been curious, so this was a little bit exciting. Until – guilt set in again.

The arts-patron that had funded the Tjanpi Weavers project at Womad popped in to check on our progress. Speaking with her, I mentioned the group I’d started and how good it would be if they could go to Womad and see this installation. So she gave me a few day passes for them.

Grateful, I gifted her with a basket. It was the original of the one pictured above. But much better. I loved that basket, but it felt right to give it away.

A few days later, I escorted a group of local elders to Womad. There wasn’t enough tickets for everyone so, as usual, I let them choose who got to go. A younger woman, who is a talented artist, missed out. She, like me, had never been able to afford Womad tickets, so she was a little bit disappointed. But it worked out ok, as all the elders got tired quickly and chose to go home. So I rang her and arranged to meet outside the gates, to give her the wrist-band that I’d asked one of the elders for. We had to take it off very carefully, to not damage it or her wrist. (shhh don’t tell Womad).

In the meantime, the group of guest artists were preparing to leave the installation tent and go see a performance. It was a singer and choir from their Country. Ahead of me a young girl was struggling to push an elder in an old wheelchair with flat tires. I jumped in and gave her a hand. Once we got to the stage, the sun was setting. The performance was amazing. And I felt privileged to have watched it in the presence of elders who were related to the performers.

As soon as it finished, I got a text to say that my friend was nearly at the gate. So I walked out to find her. Sitting under a huge fig tree was an old man. He beckoned me, so I went over there. He told me, proudly, that his son was going to perform inside the gate. He couldn’t afford a ticket, so he’d sat outside, hoping to hear the performance. The performance I’d just witnessed. I told him that his son had just been on stage. I noticed his look of disappointment at not hearing his son sing.

So I told him the story of his son’s performance. How beautiful his voice was, and the choir backing him up. I told him some of the names of the elders I’d watched the performance with, and he said they were related. I told him how some of the elders had been crying with pride. And as I told him this story, he had tears running down his cheek.

I then saw my friend, and said good-bye to him. As I walked back inside the magical space of Womad, I was a bit emotional. Firstly, because I just had an emotional interaction. And secondly, I was damn angry. Pissed off at the exclusiveness of Womad. Annoyed that even when Aboriginal people are included on the stage, we are still excluded from the audience because of those damn overpriced tickets. And deeply sad that this proud father did not get to see his son perform, in front of his kinsfolk.

Anyway, I digress once more. Later, missing the original large orange basket that I had gifted, I made this replica. Which is why it is a son of a basket. This basket might not have been at Womad, but it has been infused with the joys, creativity, sadness, and connectivity of my experiences of participating in the 2007 Womad Tjanpi Desert Weavers program.

Let the silent auction begin!

A refresher on how this will work:

  • If interested in the item, you can send me your confidential bid via twitter DM (@1KarenWyld) or by using the contact form on this website.
  • Remember to factor in packaging and postage when you are bidding.
  • Once at least one bid has hit the reserve level, I’ll close the auction and contact the highest buyer.
  • Bidding is restricted to people residing in Australia only, due to delivery costs.

If you aren’t interested in owning the item, but you did like its story, then feel free to contribute to more stories. There is a PayPal pay now button in the upper right-hand of this page. Or you can use my PayPal payme account.

Also see Lot 1: The Maiden

Lot 1: The Maiden

This is the first item in my Silent Auction of Stories. If this item could only be explained in three words, those words would be: hope, strength and resilience.

Item description:

Rose-coloured glass with gilded designs. The handled-jug is 25 cm tall. It features what could probably be called a wood nymph. She is leaning against a tree, playing a wind instrument. The six glasses are 14 cm tall, and are decorated in gold ferns. The set is in perfect condition.

Its Story:

This set was given to me in 1985. I was 21 years old, moving into my fourth accommodation after leaving the family home. It felt more like my first real home since moving out. Which could have partly been because I was in the nesting stage of my first pregnancy. Almost all of my income was going into rent, but to have a place of my own felt good. Who needs fancy furniture? Or food? Luckily, I vomited throughout that whole pregnancy, so I didn’t really feel like eating anyway.

I digress. So I had just moved into this old shack on a cliff, overlooking the sea. Surrounded by nothing either side of me, with the sea out the front, I could easily ignore the other houses some distance behind me. The place was haunted, but that is another digression.

My sister’s friend gave me this jug and glasses as a house-warming present. She’d found it in an antique shop – she’s always had an eye for pre-loved treasure. It was my very first house-warming present, so it was indeed treasure. I put it in a place of honour, and admired not only the lovely pink glass and fancy gold design, but the woman on it. She symbolised me, a young woman – free, single, and alone. Well, as much as one could be with a baby on the way.

Once that baby arrived, I was still young and single. But not alone. In addition to my daughter, my sister’s friend moved in. She had the second bedroom, whilst I had the bedroom over looking the ocean. Our lifestyles were a little bit in conflict – I had a baby who wouldn’t settle, and the housemate had parties and boyfriends. And parties there were. An isolated house on a cliff is soon filled with young people, and bands, and more people.

Luckily, I had a baby who didn’t like sleeping. She did like people. And playing with the musical instruments whenever a band came over to practice, with an audience in tow. Oh my! How did we survive!

And how did this lovely jug and glasses survive that? I had it tucked away safely. Which was a good thing, as my daughter was walking by the time she turned 10 months. And climbing on chairs, up onto shelves, or out the door by the time she was 11 months.

By the time she’d turned 2 years old, we’d moved to the country. Where it was quieter. In an old farmhouse, in the middle of a vineyard. My rent would be reduced every row of vines I tied, which was a bonus. But working in a vineyard with a stubborn toddler is near impossible. We lived there for a while, but had to move out when someone broke in and stole my rent money and lots of belongings.

This nymph jug of course didn’t get stolen. It has lived in twelve other houses with me. I moved often not because I wanted to, but because that is what the rental market was/is like. Which is why I really don’t want to lose my house; the one I built and am paying off.

This glass set survived parties, an adventurous toddler and many house moves. It’s also survived a house fire, two boisterous boys, and numerous cats. It some how didn’t get targeted by my abusive ex-husband, who had a thing for hunting down items that meant something to me and making me watch as he destroyed it. Which is how I developed a non-blinking poker-face. But I digress again.

I’m no longer The Maiden. I am fast approaching my Hag stage – and have the grey hairs to prove it. I have loved, treasured and protected this jug and glasses set, but its time for this gilded wood nymph to find a home without me.

Like me, she is strong and resilient. I hope someone likes her enough to bid on her. And will treasure her as much as I have.

***

Let the silent auction begin!

A refresher on how this will work:

  • If interested in the item, you can send me your confidential bid via twitter DM (@1KarenWyld) or by using the contact form on this website.
  • Remember to factor in packaging and postage when you are bidding.
  • Once at least one bid has hit the reserve level, I’ll close the auction and contact the highest buyer.
  • Bidding is restricted to people residing in Australia only, due to delivery costs.

If you aren’t interested in owning the item, but you did like its story, then feel free to contribute to more stories. There is a PayPal pay now button in the upper right-hand of this page. Or you can use my PayPal payme account.