Yoogum Yoogum is the second collection of verse by Lionel George Fogarty, a young Queensland Aboriginal whose earlier volume, Kargun, did not get a great deal of attention when it was published in 1980. Fogarty’s themes are ones increasingly heard in contemporary Australian writing: the historical dispossession of the Aboriginals, the present decay and demoralisation of Aboriginal society, white greed and exploitation, the primacy and potential of the land as a key to fulfilled life, the plight of (Aboriginal) women, the pathetic dispossession of Aboriginal children, solidarity in the cause of redressing the wrongs to Aboriginals, the fundamentally positive values of Aboriginal society, the possibilities for solidarity with other groups in the struggle for social justice.
In his new volume, Fogarty departs from his earlier clear statement of these themes to a difficult, dense and sometimes obscure phrase and idiom which allow the themes to emerge as substrata of a forbidding barrage of language. The cover of the earlier volume bore the disclaimer that Fogarty ‘still has difficulty in reading and writing’. The publishing of that first volume must have done much for his confidence, for Yoogum Yoogum is not the work of an unconfident writer. In fact, its successes and its faults stem rather from a confident and courageous experimentalism.