Entertainment Books Book extract: maar bidi, a new anthology of ‘next generation Black writing’
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Book extract: maar bidi, a new anthology of ‘next generation Black writing’

Magabala Books' 'maar bidi' covers aspects of life, love and living, completely from a First Nations perspective.
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In maar bidi: next generation black writing a diverse group of young black writers are encouraged to find strength in their voices and what is important to them.

This evocative and poignant anthology of prose and fiction is a journey into what it is to be young, a person of colour and a minority in divergent and conflicting worlds. All talk to what is meaningful to them, whilst connecting the old and the new, the ancient and the contemporary in a variety of ways.

“Each writer is telling an individual story but if you map them they are telling a story of young black Australia – and that makes it profound – because unlike other writers, Indigenous writers speak of country and kin,” maar bidi co-editor Elfie Shiosaki said.

“What does it mean for us when young Indigenous people find their voice in writing?”

These young essayists, critics, novelists, poets and authors shake down words and works to find styles, forms and meanings that have influenced them and all their writings. These pieces are snapshots of peoples, places and perception.

An Aboriginal woman with white skin

by Connie Gamble

I grew up hating my skin
grew up wishing I looked like my cousins, beautiful, fierce and black.

My whole life people have questioned my identity and Aboriginality.
‘What percent are you?’
‘You’re too white to be Aboriginal’
‘too nice to be Aboriginal’
‘too pretty to be Aboriginal.’

‘So you’re a half-caste.’
‘Who’s black, Mum or Dad?’
‘What percent is your dad?’
‘Why don’t you speak proper English?’
‘Yeah but you’re not one of them kind of Aboriginals.’

Growing up I knew my skin was white but I always knew I was Aboriginal.
I was proud. Still am.
All I ever knew was my black family.

Me and my cousins were thick as thieves back in the day where they was, I was.
We would always be at Nanna and Pop’s
sitting on the porch
dancing and singing to old school RnB thinking we was proper deadly.

As I’ve gotten older
I’ve realised my white skin isn’t that bad. I’m like a spy.

I see all the shit that my black sisters and brothers don’t see.
I hear all the shit my black sisters and brothers don’t hear. People don’t realise I’m black, so they let their ignorance slide.

I’m the one who sees both worlds.
I’m the one who hears both worlds.
I’m the one who stands up for my people. I’m the one who understands my people. I’m the one who feels their pain.

I shed tears for our people.
For all people of colour.
For all people who don’t mould into the white society.

‘I can’t breathe.’
Every black person
when a brother or sister is killed by someone in a uniform. Whether you’re a black person
from America, Australia, Africa, New Zealand
and other places.
You hurt, we all hurt.

Stolen

by Jarrad Travers (published in Australian Poetry Journal 7.1 ‘SKIN’ coedited by Ellen van Neerven and Ali Cobby Eckermann)

I’m sorry, I’m sorry
It was never enough.
Our ancestors and grandparents they’re oh so tough. But years ago
Were taken away.
By that white man.
Led my grandfather astray. How did they live?
In a world so grey.
Surviving not thriving
On a mission for change.
But why was that
A necessity for them?
Was it so
I did not condemn?
But why? I still ask.
They were morally bankrupted. I now live my life Sorrily, disgusted.

This is an edited extract from maar bidi: next generation black writing, published November 2020, Magabala Books. Edited by Elfie Shiosaki and Linda Martin.

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