'On Cannibals' by Jeanine Leane | States of Poetry ACT - Series One

For Patrick White (1976)

 

When the Badtjala people discovered Eliza Fraser,
her story of cannibals devoured a history.
A century later when the Badtjala people
rescued Ellen Roxborough on the fringes of paradise
White's imagination captured the Aborigine –
the Blacks – for the nation.
When she ate Badtjala woman's flesh,
she swallowed us all and we passed through the
bowels of colonial mythology all over again.
Who are the real cannibals?

 

Jeanine Leane

Jeanine Leane

Jeanine Leane

Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri scholar from south-west New South Wales. She currently holds a Discovery Indigenous Fellowship at the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Australian National University. In 2010, after a long career as a secondary and tertiary educator, she completed a doctoral thesis that analysed three iconic settler representations of Aboriginal Australians. Jeanine's first volume of poetry, Dark Secrets After Dreaming: AD 1887–1961 (2010) won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry from the Australian Poets' Union. Her manuscript Purple Threads won the David Unaipon Award at the 2010 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and was shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and the 2012 Victorian Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing.