Archival Poetics

By: Natalie Harkin

2019

Winner of the 2020 Kate Challis RAKA Award.

Winner of the John Bray Poetry Award in the 2020 SA Festival Awards.

Shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Award in the 2020 NSW Premier’s Awards.

Highly commended in the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Awards.

Archival-Poetics is an embodied reckoning with the State’s colonial archive and those traumatic, contested and buried episodes of history that inevitably return to haunt; a way of knowing and being in the world that carries us lovingly back and forward and back again toward something else restorative/ transformed/ honouring/ just. Family records at the heart of this work highlight policy measures targeting Aboriginal girls for removal into indentured domestic labour, and trigger questions on surveillance, representation and agency. This is a shared story; a decolonising project through poetic refusal, resistance and memory-making. It is our memory in the blood, and it does not always flow easily.

Dr Natalie Harkin is a Narungga woman and activist-poet from South Australia. She is a Research Fellow at Flinders University with an interest in decolonising state archives, currently engaging archival-poetic methods to research and document Aboriginal women’s domestic service and labour histories in SA. Her words have been installed and projected in exhibitions comprising text-object-video projection, including creative-arts research collaboration with the Unbound Collective. She has published widely, including with literary journals Overland, Westerly, Southerly, Wasafiri International Contemporary Writing, TEXT and Cordite. Her first poetry collection, Dirty Words, was published by Cordite Books in 2015.

‘Addictive poetry. This book heals and haunts. Real and unexpected. A stunning achievement.’ Ellen Van Neerven

‘Archival-Poetics was deemed a landmark piece of Australian poetry by the judging panel.  Rooted in archival interrogation and historical reflection, the collection is a critical and timely piece that examines the origins of contemporary Australia.

The judges were struck by the overall cohesiveness of the text and the manner in which Harkin weaved the archival, the familial and the political within the poetic form. They described it as: brave, innovative and challenging.’ WINNER of the 2020 Kate Challis RAKA Award

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