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The F Word Address: Alison Whittaker

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Photo of Alison Whittaker, speaking at the Wheeler Centre lectern

Alison Whittaker delivers the address — Photo: Scott Limbrick

The F Word Address is our annual talk from an outstanding Australian woman on a pressing feminist issue. This year, our speaker is the phenomenal Alison Whittaker: poet, essayist, legal scholar and Gomeroi woman.

Whittaker’s address focusses on the complexities of using storytelling as a tool for justice for Blak women – in law, and in literature. How have traditions of sharing story among Indigenous people influenced how they articulate their histories, and assert their rights, in Western civil or criminal jurisdictions? Who are the audiences for Blak social justice narratives? And do Aboriginal women rely on a listening conscience that isn’t there?

In a 30-minute talk, followed by a short interview with host Claire G. Coleman, Whittaker draws on her legal research and writing work to consider the limits of storytelling – and to propose new ways to strengthen and centre storytellers themselves.

Photo of Claire G. Coleman and Alison Whittaker in conversation

Claire G. Coleman and Alison Whittaker in conversation — Photo: Scott Limbrick

The video of this event, which will be published soon, includes Auslan interpretation.

Who?

Portrait of Alison Whittaker

Alison Whittaker

Alison Whittaker is a Gomeroi multitasker from the floodplains of Gunnedah in NSW. Between 2017–2018, she was a Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School, where she was named the Dean’s Scholar in Race, Gender and Criminal Law.

Her debut poetry collection, Lemons in the Chicken Wire, was awarded the State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship in 2015, and was published by Magabala Books in 2016. Her latest book, Blakwork, was published in 2018.

As a poet and essayist, her work has been published in the Sydney Review of Books, Seizure, Overland, Westerly, BuzzFeed, Griffith Review, the Lifted Brow, Meanjin and Archer.

Alison was the co-winner of the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize in 2017 for her poem, 'Many Girls White Linen'. Most recently, she was the Australian Indigenous Poet-In-Residence for the 2018 Queensland Poetry Festival.

Portrait of Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman

Claire G. Coleman is a writer from Western Australia. She identifies with the South Coast Noongar people. Her family are associated with the area around Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun. Claire grew up in a Forestry settlement in the middle of a tree plantation, where her dad worked, not far out of Perth.

She wrote her black&write! fellowship-winning manuscript Terra Nullius while travelling around Australia in a caravan. Terra Nullius was published by Hachette Australia and will be available in North America in 2018 with Small Beer Press. Terra Nullius won the Norma K Hemming Award, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize and for Best Sci-Fi Novel in the 2017 Aurealis Awards. The Old Lie, coming in September 2019, is her second novel.

Discussion

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