Monday, February 15, 2010

Page and Pooaraar's The Great Forgetting

In an earlier post on my personal blog, Train Reading - S H Roberts the Squatting Age in Australia, 1835-1847, I reviewed this pioneering study of the emergence of the Australian wool industry. Then Janine Rizzeti wrote a rather nice companion piece, ‘The Squatting Age in Australia 1835-1847′.

In that piece, Janine included a link to a book by New England poet Geoff Page and Aboriginal print maker Pooaraar (Bevan Hayward), The Great Forgetting (1996) . I had not seen the book before. Janine included the book because it had a poem entitled The Classic Text that dealt with  S H Robert's book.

The poems and supporting illustrations look at the interaction between Aborigines and new settlers over time. They can be read at several levels.

At one level, Page and Pooarar's joint work brings out aspects of post European settlement Aboriginal history in a powerful way. I may quibble with aspects from a historical perspective, but it is quite a powerful book.

At a second level, the specific location of some of the poems means that they are likely to be understood by and appeal to many of those from the broader New England. We all like to read work set in our own country. For example, I think that Lynne or for that matter the broader North Coast Voices collective will find them interesting.

Then there is a third level, the linkage between Geoff Page himself, country and New England history.

There are aspects here that I find fascinating and am slowly teasing through.

Geoff is Earle Page's grandson. I am David Drummond's grandson. Judith Wright is PA Wright's daughter. Page, Drummond and Wright were all actively involved in the same New England causes. From somewhat different generations and sometimes different perspectives, their children and grandchildren have all written on Aboriginal issues.

I would not put myself as a writer in the same class as either Geoff or Judith. I am not. I just find the linkage between us all and country and our respective histories fascinating.

One of the huge pleasures I get in writing about New England history lies in the fact that I can sometimes shine light on linkages and relationships that might otherwise get lost.

I do not know whether Geoff Page and Pooaraar's book is still in print. I doubt it. If not, I would love to see it reprinted. In the meantime, please browse the Google Book entry

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