Songspirals : Sharing Women's Wisdom of Country Through Songlines

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Longlisted for the 2020 Stella Prize.

'We want you to come with us on our journey, our journey of songspirals. Songspirals are the essence of people in this land, the essence of every clan. We belong to the land and it belongs to us. We sing to the land, sing about the land. We are that land. It sings to us.'

Aboriginal Australian cultures are the oldest living cultures on earth and at the heart of Aboriginal cultures is song. These ancient narratives of landscape have often been described as a means of navigating across vast distances without a map, but they are much, much more than this. Songspirals are sung by Aboriginal people to awaken Country, to make and remake the life-giving connections between people and place. Songspirals are radically different ways of understanding the relationship people can have with the landscape.

For Yolngu people from North East Arnhem Land, women and men play different roles in bringing songlines to life, yet the vast majority of what has been published is about men's place in songlines. Songspirals is a rare opportunity for outsiders to experience Aboriginal women's role in crying the songlines in a very authentic and direct form.

'Songspirals are Life. These are cultural words from wise women. As an Aboriginal woman this is profound to learn. As a human being Songspirals is an absolute privilege to read.' - Ali Cobby Eckermann, Yankunytjatjara poet

'To read Songspirals is to change the way you see, think and feel this country.' - Clare Wright, award-winning historian and author

'A rare and intimate window into traditional women's cultural life and their visceral connection to Country. A generous invitation for the rest of us.' - Kerry O'Brien, Walkley Award-winning journalist
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 25.4mm | 480g
  • Sydney, Australia
  • English
  • 1760633216
  • 9781760633219
  • 90,306

Table of contents

PART 1: Wuymirri
1: Mum
2: Country
3: Mapping
4: Becoming together
5: Harmonising
Gumatj and Warramirri versions

PART 2: Wukun
1: Gathering of the Clouds
2: Singing the clouds
3: Clouds forming
4: Thundercloud
5: Clouds separating
6: Raining

PART 3: Guwak
1: Being a messenger
2: Sky Country
3: This is political
4: The spirits are in everything
5: Living in today's world

PART 4: Wititj
1: Settling of the Serpent
2: Belonging and longing to be with Country
3: Wapitja
4: Women's knowledge and wisdom

PART 5: Gong-gurtha
1: Keepers of the flame
2: Passing it on to the kids
3: The fire on the horizon
4: Order
5: Connecting generations

Ending with the wind

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About Laklak Burarrwanga

Gay'wu Group of Women is the 'dilly bag women's group', a deep collaboration between five Yolngu women and three non-Aboriginal women over a decade. They are all co-authors of Weaving Lives Together at Bawaka, North East Arnhem Land and a book for young adults, Welcome to My Country.
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Rating details

37 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 30% (11)
4 54% (20)
3 11% (4)
2 3% (1)
1 3% (1)
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