at The Wheeler Centre

Word for Word: Celebrating Indigenous Literature

Bir'yun is a Yolngu word denoting qualities of sparkle, glitter and shine. The word is sometimes used by artists when they are nearing completion of bark paintings. Suddenly the energy of the ancestors comes alive on the bark – and the painting becomes bir'yun.

To mark the announcement of the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, join us for a discussion of the intricacy and potency of unique words from the languages of Australia’s first peoples.

Daniel Browning, Bruce Pascoe and Jessie Lloyd will introduce and define a favourite word in language, then discuss why this word is precious and how it defies English translation. We’ll also explore the power these words have to express different types of knowledge and distinctive ways of making sense of the world.

Presented in partnership with The Poet’s Voice.


Portrait of Bruce Pascoe

Bruce Pascoe

Bruce Pascoe is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man born in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. He’s the author of the best-selling Dark Emu, Young Dark Emu: A Truer History, Loving Country: A Guide to Sacred Australia and over thirty other books including the short story collections Night Animals and Nightjar, and academic texts including The Little Red Yellow Black Book with AIATSIS. Dark Emu (Magabala Books) won Book of the Year and the Indigenous Writer’s Prize at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2016, and has now sold in excess of 200,000 copies.

Portrait of Daniel Browning

Daniel Browning

Daniel Browning is an Aboriginal journalist, radio broadcaster, sound artist and writer. Currently, he is produces and presents Awaye!, the Indigenous art and culture program on the ABC’s specialist journalism and arts network Radio National. Awaye! surveys contemporary Indigenous cultural practice across the arts spectrum. A visual arts graduate, Daniel is also a widely published freelance writer on the arts and culture. 

Portrait of Jessie Lloyd

Jessie Lloyd

An award winning musician, composer and creative entrepreneur, Jessie Lloyd is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from the tropics of North Queensland. Jessie has experience in the areas of musical direction, arts management and sector development; dedicated to the progress of modern Indigenous culture through the mediums of music and song.


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