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Collective Spirit: First Nations Poetry


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‘The Christianity you hold so high / Is but a lie, / Justice a cant of hypocrites, content / With precedent.’ (Oodgeroo Noonuccal, in ‘Colour Bar’.)

Poetry has always been a powerful vehicle for ideas. As a genre, it’s often entangled with the moral and social conflicts of the age, and rich with references to politics, history, joy and pain. Forms like spoken word, lamentation and illumination offer unique critical possibilities. And for many First Nations Peoples, poetry has been an incredibly potent space for addressing country, relationships, community and identity.

This discussion, hosted by Ali Cobby Eckermann, will feature three emerging Victoria-based Indigenous poets – Monica Karo, Ryan Prehn and Emily Munro-Harrison – fresh from a residency at Kalang Retreat. They’ll discuss their writing, the residency and poetic licence, and perform readings of their work.

This event is presented in partnership with Kalang Retreat. Collective Spirit is supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program, the Victorian Government through Creative VicArts Grants and Australian Poetry.

Readings will be our bookseller at this event.


Ali Cobby Eckermann

Ali Cobby Eckermann’s first collections of poetry little bit long time and Kami (2010) both quickly sold out their first print runs. Her verse novel His Father’s Eyes was published by OUP in 2011. Her second verse novel Ruby Moonlight won the inaugural kuril dhagun National Manuscript Ed... Read more

Ryan Prehn

Ryan Prehn is a poet and writer living in Melbourne on Wurundjeri country. He is a descendant of the Worimi mob of coastal NSW. Ryan was a runner-up in Overland’s 2016 Nakata Brophy poetry prize, and more recently worked with Red Room Poetry & Australian Poetry on the New Shoots project as ... Read more

Monica Karo

Monica Karo, a Gunai/Kurnai and Gunditjmara descendant is a Melbourne-based poet, actor and singer-songwriter. Having studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, she is continuously expanding on her artistry. Reflecting a deep connection to spirituality throu... Read more

Emily Munro-Harrison

Emily Munro-Harrison is a Wiradjuri woman who grew up on Kulin Country in Narrm. She has always had a passion for writing and story telling, and loved listening to her grandparents’ stories as a child. In 2013 Emily undertook a creative writing summer school intensive at Columbia University in New... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.