Songspirals: Sharing Women’s Wisdom of Country through Songlines by Gay’wu Group of Women

Song Spirals book in front of monstera plant, with cover image by Gaymala Yunupinu

a nutshell: borne of a decade-long collaboration between five Yolŋu women and three non-Aboriginal women, this profound, intimate, beautiful book is an invitation to learn about milkarri – songspirals cried and keened by women

a line: “It is grief. It is pain. It is joy, love, healing. | It is songspirals.”

an image: for this particular book it’s a near-impossible task to choose just a single image; beauty suffuses every page, particularly as the women share how they walk in kinship with the land, noticing the birds, the dew, the warming sun, the cycles . . .

a thought: with their thousands of generations of knowledge, the women emphasise the need to respect wisdom and of how a wondrous mind learns so much more than a mind that is sick & narrow – living our responsibilities means opening ourselves up to being surprised & transformed and trying to do things that make a positive difference

a fact: Gay’wu Group of Women continually opened my eyes and broadened my understanding of their culture, but crucially they reminded me how much I (we) don’t know – their words are for reflection with regard to our own experiences

want to read Songspirals? visit here

Passion de La Pensée by Salma Khalil Alio

a nutshell: in the writer’s own words, this is a melting pot (un creuset) of diverse poems that embrace romanticism, tenderness & disappointment

a line: “Aux parents rescapés de cet atterrissage | Au fruit de l’arbre généalogique qui naissaient | Des noyaux d’amour mornes qui connaissaient | L’armure fortifiante de la puissance | Celle dont on surnommait valeur de connaissance” [‘Négritude d’Afrique’]*

an image: there are many pastoral scenes across this collection – in ‘Nature, toi ma passion’ the poet portrays herself as isolated in a nest of purity, soaking up the beauty of the landscape and watching innocent wild geese, then as soon as twilight takes her into its embrace, she slips off her shoes

a thought: as this collection was in French I developed a document in which I translated extensive extracts incl. Alio’s fascinating biography & preface – hugely enjoyed working my way through the poems, which metamorphose from short, light-hearted anecdotes (such as forgetting Valentine’s Day!) to longer, more serious verses about her homeland

a fact: Alio is also the founder of the Positive, an association aiming to support Chadian women artists in any medium by promoting their art as a means of economic empowerment – learn more

want to read Passion de la Pensée? visit here

* I have my own personal translation of these lines but am wary of sharing it in case I have misinterpreted the meaning at all – I’m very much an amateur at literary translation! If you read French, I’d love to hear how you translate these lines 🙂