False Claims of Colonial Thieves (Charmaine Papertalk Green & John Kinsella, Magabala)
In False Claims of Colonial Thieves, Charmaine Papertalk Green and John Kinsella articulate a political poetry that responds to land occupation, resource exploitation and historical wrongdoing. They situate themselves as moral voices fighting against power and privilege. Astute readers will recognise familiar tropes from their respective oeuvres, including reference to salt, parrots and chemicals from Kinsella, and traditional country, whiteness and family from Green. Kinsella’s and Green’s voices often blend into a poetic dialogue. Yet, the initials of both authors are noted at the end of each section, which allows readers to always know who is speaking. This allows us to appreciate their differences even as there often is a shared tone of indignation, outrage and anger. Occasionally, Green’s voice lifts us into hope, such as in ‘Wildflower Singing’: ‘Like a feast laid out / On a long table in / Front of me / My eyes welcome / The sight of my Ancestral lands / Singing in wildflowers’. As a critique of colonial Australia and a historical document, False Claims of Colonial Thieves has a certain weight and importance. It is informative and energetic, and will appeal to readers interested in Indigenous affairs, ecopoetics and Australian history.
Robert Wood is a writer, editor and the 2017 recipient of the Sydney Review of Books Copyright Agency Emerging Critic fellowship