There’s two points of view about country, there’s a whitefella way of looking at country: seeing country as commodity, things they can take from the land and what they can make of it that can be useful. In my country there’s a lot of minerals. From diamond, gold, copper, oil, you name it. It’s all there for the taking. There is also uranium and gas. This country is very rich they say. But from an Aboriginal point of view there is another way of looking at country. The country dreams for her children.

For example gas ... the most desired mineral right now in the Kimberleys. For us she is a lady. She is part of our country’s richest mining deposit in Australian history. She’s a very rare expensive mineral that is highly toxic and a poisonous liquid substance hidden miles beneath us, within the Earth crust.

I’m going to tell you about this lady. Her English name is Valhalla, meaning the land of the dead. She is the most feared woman that ever walked the face of the earth. There were many stories that been foretold about this woman: stealing people from their sleep, possessing whole clan groups with silent death sleeps, leaving them to wake up into the spirit world, entombed in termite mounds for eternity.

They considered her to be very dangerous but to me, she’s like a mother. She’s been dreaming country. Dreams of ghost walking termite mounds in the distance through grassless plains.

She held my hand and walked me through country, speaking to the land and the land was listening. There’s a message being brushed up by the wind, her whispering words of burning grass dancing with tongues of fire.

When I stand on my spirit country, Ballil, I look down from the ridge. I see grassless plains where she once walked devouring innocent souls for her liking. We are continually warning people, even the hungry mining dog companies about a treacherous woman. She is poison.

Her name is Dungkabah (whisper)

Edwin Lee Mulligan


‘Dungkabah’ was commissioned for the dance theatre production Cut the Sky (2015) by Marrugeku.

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Sleeping under a blanket, half asleep, I wrapped myself tightly, feeling the warmth after a cold night. I thought I was in a dream and wished it would be a good one. And as I spoke to myself about what this generation had to do with me, and the purpose in this life I’ve been given, all of a sudden I went into a deep dream. It happened so fast, it was like being sucked into a tunnel through a vacuum, Willy Willy, tornado and a twister.

My whole body went numb, paralysed. I couldn’t feel anything except the rhythm of my heart beating. As it beats it became louder and the louder it became the more heavily it weighed and the more heavily it weighed my spirit grew into a formation, becoming larger than a life image. My spirit transmitted, descending within the earth, and transforming into one of mother earth’s recognisable landmark monuments she created.

At that point I became gigantic and muscular, stretching for kilometres. In a way I had the earth in the palm of my hands. And looking at my hands I knew it was a symbol of great significance and high priority as an offering that was prepared for a celebration.

After that transformation to a dream I opened my eyes and what was before me left me breath-taken. I became a mountain overlooking vast flood plains. The ground was so fertile and rich having layers of minerals that were attached to my nerve systems, running with water and river. I became one with this earth. Pretty much like the blanket that I wrapped myself around that night but on a grand scale.

And then a voice I heard that spoke to me that felt encouraging to my spirit. The spirit of the land spoke to me, they said: Can you feel the connection to this land? I turned around under the gaze of my ancestors and softly replied ... exactly.

Edwin Lee Mulligan


‘Blanket Story’ was commissioned for the dance theatre production Cut the Sky (2015) by Marrugeku.

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It’s been years and it’s never been raining, a sign of weather patterns at work in the creamy blue skies. An elder looked up and noticed a single cloud formation appeared. It was going towards a significant place. The cloud was very small and very dark and yet it still didn’t rain.

On this earth we walk the grassy plains with sun bleached sensitive skin sucked up by the heat, and with this temperature we too will weather away like a single insignificant blade of grass in the field.

Since the coming of time the spirits of the skies have been painting their pictures, telling the story of changing seasons.

They reached to the earth choosing individual vibrant colors to paint the universal giant canvas, calculating the mathematics of day and night, of rotating cosmos with our sun, stars and the moon, second by second in an endless equation.

An elder would say they’re singing our mothers’ land beneath our feet. We too will sing with them and yet our generation still walks on the grassy plains left alone wondering what this weather patterns means.

Edwin Lee Mulligan


‘Jimidilung’ was commissioned for the dance theatre production Cut the Sky (2015) by Marrugeku.

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Once upon a time the crocodile was a human being. And then one day, one particular day his heart became hard and when his heart became harder, his flesh became hard and when his flesh became harder his skin became hard, and when his skin became harder it transformed into the scales on his back, deeply cut wounds that have never been healed.

He developed a taste for blood, he ripped open his stomach in a sacrifice. His own blood became cries of pain, floating debris of the past drifting on murky waters. He built towns and cities as a bandage to cover his wounds, leaving only a bloodstain to reveal his past. And then the crocodile says, ‘All Kingdoms are built by blood’.

The crocodile is a great hunter, a hunter of souls. Having the characteristics of a human being he is no different from a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And in the nature of the wolf he too walks on all fours.

Beware of murky waters and beware what lies below. There is a cunning creature that needs more than water to drink and more than a bandage to cover his scaly skin.

Edwin Lee Mulligan


‘Crocodile’ was commissioned for the dance theatre production Cut the Sky (2015) by Marrugeku.

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Edwin Mulligan States of Poetry Series 2Poet and painter Edwin Lee Mulligan was born in Derby in 1980. He is also known by his traditional name, Warrda Lumbadij Bundajarrdi. He grew up in Yakanarra and now resides in Noonkanbah in the central Kimberley and in Broome. His grandfather Jimmy Pike is a well-known Walmajarri artist and is the reason why Mulligan embarked on a career in the arts. Mulligan’s work has been exhibited in New York, Melbourne, Berlin, Rotterdam, and Perth. Edwin joined Marrugeku for the dance theatre production of Cut the Sky (2015), for which his poems in ABR’s States of Poetry anthology were commissioned. Edwin’s work was selected to feature on specially made WA police uniforms and police vehicle wraps as part of 2017 NAIDOC Week celebrations. Recently Edwin received the Shinju Matsuri 2017 Aboriginal Art Award for his ‘Seasons – Sharing Country’ work.

Poems

'Blanket story'

'Crocodile'

'Dungkabah'

'Jimadilung'

'Sun Poem'

Further Reading and Links

Edwin Lee Mulligan's Associate Artist profile on Marrugeku

Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency profile

'Dreamcatcher'  by Alex Smee from I Am An Artist. I Come From The Bush Series 1, ABC Open

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    Poet and painter Edwin Lee Mulligan was born in Derby in 1980. He is also known by his traditional name, Warrda Lumbadij Bundajarrdi. He grew up in Yakanarra and now resides in Noonkanbah in the central Kimberley and in Broome. His grandfather Jimmy Pike is a well-known Walmajarri artist and is the reason why ...

I Lied

David Stavanger

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O Hail! to the days of wine and typhus,
the arrangements of battlefields in early spring,
the glory of a factory that rifts your body
before it wipes your mind, religions vivid
as blood sacrifice. Rise up King Pepe!
Pwn the noob descending the staircase,
these Chads will know the beta’s far cry.

PTSD was straightforward
when you could just belt your wife.
These days all we have is a toilet stall
where you can sharpie ‘Ted Bundy
would have loved her as prey’
across a picture of Patricia Krenwinkel
and no one will delete it.

These days it seems to me
people have their favourite monkeys,
bonobos or capuchins, smart as dumb likers.
I might just borrow yours.
Welcome to the shit show
and remember to vote with your wallet.

Liam Ferney

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  • Custom Article Title 'Main Street Social' by Liam Ferney | States of Poetry QLD - Series Two
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Annamaria Weldon States of PoetryAnnamaria Weldon’s writing residency with Symbiotica UWA prompted the poems, essays, and photographs of Yalgorup National Park in her last book, The Lake’s Apprentice (UWAP, 2014). She has just completed her third poetry collection, inspired by Malta’s Neolithic temple culture. She researched and wrote during several visits to her birth island, most recently as 2016 Writer in Residence at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta. Annamaria’s previous collections were The Roof Milkers (Sunline Press, 2008) and Ropes of Sand (Associated News Malta, 1984). Her poetry has been published in Australian literary journals, anthologised, broadcast on Radio National, and has been staged in several collaborative projects including contemporary dance and art installations. Her awards include the inaugural Nature Conservancy Australia Essay Prize, the Tom Collins Poetry Prize, and a shortlisting in ABR's 2016 Peter Porter Poetry Prize.

Poems

'goddess we trample'

'stone mother tongue'

'in the National Museum of Maltese Archaeology'

'ghost flock'

'Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni, Malta'

Further Reading and Links

Annamaria Weldon's website 

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the text read:
Kissing you under an umbrella in rain
makes my list of favourite things;
a lunch crowd streamed around us.
we, dry in a cylinder,
sealed with that old golf umbrella’s
nylon night sky far from city lights –
I don’t recall why I didn’t walk you.
maybe the rain put its hands in pockets,
whistled east on Murray Street.
you left behind the scent of magnolia,
powder on a dark blue suit –
cheek relief on my shoulder –
foundation print on flax that escapes
authentication – a recollection I’ve kept
from the yellowing hands of sunlight, time and air.

Chris Arnold

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  • Custom Article Title 'Reason Six' by Chris Arnold | States of Poetry WA - Series Two
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you opt for form over colour
makeup smudged lenses
pale bare planes by the lakes;
a cygnet ellipsis in black
parenthetical necks;
white sky reflected in high water.

we sit where I have stayed
and watched an oak open and close –
green again – the bench
suspended on ampersands.

Chris Arnold

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  • Custom Article Title '&' by Chris Arnold | States of Poetry WA - Series Two
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