RiP Kerry Reed-Gilbert
Author, poet and Aboriginal activist Kerry Reed-Gilbert has died, aged 62.
Reed-Gilbert was a Wiradjuri elder, poet, writer, activist and artist. She was the author and editor of numerous works of poetry and prose, including Talkin’ About Country (Kuracca); The Strength of Us as Women: Black women speak (ed. Ginninderra Press); Message Stick: Contemporary Aboriginal writing (ed. IAD Press); Ngunnunggula (Belonging to Here): Stories and poems (ed. FreeXpression); and Black Woman Black Life (Wakefield Press). She is also the author of the forthcoming memoir The Cherry Picker’s Daughter (Wild Dingo Press).
A teacher and advocate, Reed-Gilbert was also the co-founder and inaugural chairperson of the First Nations Australian Writers Network.
Yvette Holt, on behalf of FNAWN’s executive board, wrote:
‘It is with immense great sadness and our deepest sorrow that we hear of the passing of our life-long patron, co-founder of FNAWN, inaugural Chairperson of FNAWN, tireless advocate and true “Kuracca Warrior” our most beloved Aunty Kerry Reed-Gilbert. Aunty Kerry, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, Aunty, cousin, and a true friend to so many from across the nations passed away in Canberra in the early hours of 13 July. Aunty Kerry was comforted and surrounded by her beloved family. On behalf of the Executive Board of FNAWN, our Members, and our allied writers networks throughout the ACT and Australia, FNAWN would like to extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to her daughters, family members of the Reeds and Gilberts, their children and their families. As our FNAWN family mourn the grief and loss of our beloved literary matriarch we stand united, saddened by our nations’ incomprehensible loss. Vale Aunty Kerry—may the wings of your Kuracca crest soar high. You are so loved and will be so sadly missed. Forever in our hearts.’
Wild Dingo Press wrote:
‘The Wild Dingo Press team was deeply saddened to hear of Aunty Kerry passing away this weekend and send our heartfelt condolences to her fellow FNAWN family and friends. We feel so blessed that she trusted us to bring her story out, and that we got to know her, even if for a very short time. This is what will now go on the very first page of her book whose release we are fast-tracking for her and her family:
‘The day after we received the very last corrections and amendments to the manuscript from Aunty Kerry, she quietly passed away on her final journey to the Tjukurpa. Right up to the end, we received the warmest, most caring emails from her, just making sure everything was in order, that the manuscript was exactly as she wanted it, that the photos were all there and the captions finalised and correct, that the cover was exactly as she envisaged. She touched our hearts with her love, her humility, her talents and an extraordinary life dedicated to helping others in so many ways. We feel both humbled and honoured that she trusted us with the task of bringing this important and timely story into the light of day at a time when Aboriginal history is being redefined and rewritten by First Nations’ storytellers. All Australians need to know the truth of the lived experiences of our First Nations’ sisters and brothers since Europeans arrived, and the rich cultural heritage that has sustained them through the recent brutal history and sustained their ancestors and this precious continent for millennia.’