INDIGENOUS poets shared moving stories of the Stolen Generation, family and land rights in a rare performance of their work at the launch of the month-long York Festival.
Balladong Elder Janet Kickett said it felt amazing to share her poems at last weekend’s program of music, arts and other cultural events in the historic town.
“It was the first time I’d shared the hard stories in public; it is easier done through poetry,” she said.
“There were so many people there and they were such an appreciative crowd.”
Sisters Janet and Yvonne Kickett and Rosalie Quartermaine read a selection of their poetry created during Community Arts Network’s Northam Noongar poetry project in a performance titled Bilya Kep Waangkiny, meaning river water stories in the Noongar language.
An open mic session featured readings from York Elder Merle Narkle-Goodwin, a tribute to Noongar soldiers by Daniel Hansen, several pieces by primary school student Hayden Kickett and a closing performance by award-winning actor-writer Maitland Schnaars.
“An event like this gives a voice to the community, especially women in Aboriginal and rural communities,” he said.
The poetry project is part of CAN’s Rekindling Stories on |Country government-funded program.
Other attractions at the launch included walking tours with guide Rob Garton-Smith, art workshops, conversations with York larrikins, a gold hunt and children’s shows.
A standout highlight was the inaugural Running with the Lambs ‘ninja-warrior style’ obstacle course – a drawcard for 50 children dressed as prime lambs for a chance at a prize.
Not to be outdone, two teams of parents completed the course at the end of the event, inspiring organisers to consider an adult version for next year’s program.
Festival director Jenny Garroun said the town was bustling with atmosphere.