Gregg Dreise Presents

It was a wonderfully dynamic, interactive, educational and personal guest presentation by Gregg Dreise, an award winning illustrator and writer of books like Silly Birds and Mad Magpie, at the recent Book Links AGM at the State Library of Queensland.

Gregg is a descendant of the Kamilaroi tribe, from south-west Queensland and north-west New South Wales. You can find out more about him on the Speakers Ink site.

Gregg  began by honouring the Indigenous people of the local area we were  meeting in, and then gave the audience a sample of what he does when goes on his various visits into the community, but especially into schools.This gave us a chance to learn some of his language and sing it, and do the accompanying actions just as the students would.

Then he used a number of images to structure his talk around the memories of his upbringing, including one of his mum as a little girl, which he gave a a thought provoking back story to.  I’m not going to fully detail that here, as I think that will be something Gregg may one day do himself if he ever writes a memoir or maybe if he is busy one of his family might do this.  If you attend one of his presentations you will hear it directly from him as well.

Gregg  gave some critique of the notion of ‘blackness’ and Indigenous identity as well how little diversity appears in Australian children’s books, in libraries, publishing and schools. 

This observation was used to spring board into suggestions of how illustrators might consider including more diverse characters in their picture books.

However, it was suggested not to do this in a tokenistic way, or with stereotyping, but in a naturally inclusive way. 

Later on this point was discussed further by the authors in attendance of the AGM.  As authors shared with Gregg that they have little control over the work of illustrators if they are not author/illustrators.  He suggested that authors could at least make a note about wanting diversity in the illustrations of their book.

Gregg said, non-Indigenous could still include Indigenous characters, but should ensure they do their research and be accurate in those portrayals.  If there is an opportunity to include, do it! But just do the research.

He said often, however, there are picture book stories  that require very little change of the writing to embrace an inclusive society, rather a subtle change in illustration where the main character could be Indigenous instead of Anglo Australian, or in a wheelchair instead of walking is what makes the difference.  He gave us a specific example, which he had gained permission from the author to do so, to show how simple the task of inclusivity can be.

He did not advocate however taking on traditional stories, and explained that authors who truly want to support Indigenous people should instead empower an Indigenous person to tell and illustrate that story.

At times it might be relevant to consult Elders when undertaking a project, but the writer should be open to the answer being no, or yes and not try to railroad communities into assisting them with their research or books.

Mentoring is a rewarding experience, and can not only be taken on board as best practice when wanting to support Indigenous people, but can and should be acknowledged.  This is also work he himself does for regional and remote students especially.  Equally if writers receive assistance in research or from Elders they should acknowledge it.

On a positive note Gregg observed that in film and television there are great advances in diversity and the positive deconstruction of ‘blackness’ with films like Black Panther and also Star Wars.

He shared that Indigenous authors and illustrators should avoid stereotyping their own communities, and showed us an illustration where he represented the different skin shades of Indigenous Australia today.  Sometimes ‘blackness’ is taken as a sign of Indigenous authenticity, when it is not the major indication in contemporary society.

Another very heartening aspect of Gregg’s presentation was sharing the story of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and his work mentoring young Indigenous writers and illustrators.

So far we have gifted more than 260,000 new books to over 250 remote Indigenous communities where books are scarce.
Working with more than 30 generous publishers, we gift culturally relevant books to schools, libraries, playgroups, women’s centres, youth centres and other service organisations.
We have books available for babies through to adults, 40 per cent created by Indigenous authors and illustrators, with a new catalogue released each year. 

He is hosting a group  of talented Indigenous creatives in Sydney soon and taking them to Google and Hachette so they can aspire to become writers, illustrators and more.  It’s all about the doors that writing and books can open and broadening the horizons for Australia’s Indigenous people.  This work is made possible through a bequest from Pamela Lofts.

He showed us an example of a beautiful book co-produced with a school, which exemplified the kind of work possible.

I was very blessed to have a fantastic earlier discussion session with Dimity Powell and Gregg where we discussed the potential of  picture books and poetry to contribute to social justice and unity in diversity in the Australian literary community and how we might advance that happening.

June Perkins, Dimity Powell and Gregg Dreise

It was a highly uplifting and inspiring conversation for all three of us, and  we will be continuing our conversations as like minded, but very diverse background humans.

There were of course many more things shared during the presentation and this day, so this blog is only highlights that particularly struck me.

Book Links will  be sharing a blog of the day with several comments from participants in the AGM.  I will add the link to this post when it goes up.

All the best,

June Perkins

A Weekend of Meeting Inspiring Readers and Supporters

Magic Fish Dreaming

This weekend I went to Big B books, Burleigh Heads and Mt Alford Artisan Markets. Both are about an hours drive from Brisbane. My quest was to share Magic Fish Dreaming!

One of the lovely outcomes of this weekend was connecting with other artists and writers.

At Big B Books I loved catching up with Angela Sunde and Lucia Masciullo and we shared a table.  Angela is an absolute dynamo and was promoting all three of us so beautifully.

At Mt Alford Artisan’s Market, I absolutely loved meeting this vibrant mother and her little one, Jude, who gave me the biggest smile.

So lovely to know he will be growing up with Magic Fish Dreaming.  It was so exciting to hear of people sending this book overseas to relatives and friends, as well as taking it into areas I am not sure have read it yet. Germany, England, Toowoomba…

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Welcome

juneperkins
June Perkins (taken by Heidi Den Ronden)

Dr June Perkins is a lyrical, jubilant, compassionate and poetic writer of Indigenous Papua New Guinean and Australian background with extensive experience in conducting cultural and creative writing workshops within community settings and in tutoring and mentoring primary school, high school and tertiary writers.

She is moved to write by pressing social issues, such as the future of the planet, the need to eradicate extremes of wealth and poverty and prejudice, and the optimism of young people. Her PhD was on the subject of writing empowerment, and ever since finalising that in 2004, she has been applying her research into her everyday practices as a writer in and for community.

In 2016 June won an ASA writing mentorship for picture books and successfully crowd funded and published Magic Fish Dreaming, a poetry book for children and the young at heart. In 2017 she won several Royal Dragon Fly Awards for Magic Fish Dreaming. Her work has been published in a huge variety of spaces, including ABC Open. She is working hard towards more publication breakthroughs, with a novel and picture books in progress.

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Welcome to the blog.

I blog literary events, interviews with creatives, life in Queensland,  progress on my writing projects, and the writing process.

Looking forward to your comments.

Please respect all copyright for this work. If you want to make use of something you need my prior written permission. See COPYRIGHT HERE.

I may not be the relevant copyright holder in all cases (reblogs).

If printing anything for classroom use please keep a CAL record and credit it.

Please respect all copyright for this work. If you want to make use of something you need my prior written permission. See COPYRIGHT HERE.

I am a member of the following:

Profiles at   

Write Links 

Just Write For Kids

SCWIBI

Australian Children’s Poetry

Australian Society of Authors

Creative Kids Tales  

 

You can also find me at

Twitter   Facebook    Vimeo    Pinterest    Nineteen Months

Magic Fish Dreaming 

Listening Divas

Dad
Family Archives – with Dad

When we were young, Dad told us bed time stories. They were always silly with us in starring roles.

Dad liked Spike Milligan and AA Milne. Sometimes he’d recite his favourite poems and direct them to one of us. Snatches of AA Milne come back to me at the oddest times, with his poetry of children whose parents run away and cautionary tales to not step on the cracks in the footpath.

Dad’s stories were funny and satirical but sometimes we protested about the way he portrayed us. We were unruly characters, tiny divas, jostling for bigger and more complimentary roles. We directed our storytelling Dad just so.

Our favourite thing was Dad giving us magical powers. We told him the names we wanted and what we should be doing.
‘No I wouldn’t do that.’
‘I should be taller’
‘I need to run faster’
‘I’d jump to … the moon’

We loved to take over his stories. Sometimes our diva listening ways were so out of control they would make our storyteller abandon his tale and he’d grab out the Muddle Headed Wombat book to read to us and do all the characters voices for us. Tabby Cat, Mouse and Wombat became our friends. I read all the books when I had mastered the art of reading.

Read the Rest of this story over at  ABC Open

And catch up with Ali’s Posts on World Read Aloud Day

Home is

I love the work of The Footpath library.    The philosophy of this project is that books enrich lives and everyone should have access to them.

At the moment they have the Epic Short Story Competition.   It’s on a topic dear to my heart ‘Home is’   What does it mean to you or someone you know? Express it in a short story.  Whilst you’re visiting the site why not think about how you can support them in the work they do.

homeis

To find out more visit Footpath Library – Epic Competition.

A competition for High school and Primary Students.

Students are invited to submit a short story under 300 words focusing the theme of “Home is …”.

Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in two age categories – Primary Students and High School Students. For each age category the prizes are:
1st prize – Notebook laptop
2nd prize – Camcorder
3rd prize – Digital camera

Prizes may change at the discretion of The Footpath Library.
There will also be an Honour Roll of highly commended entries and selected entrants will receive book packs. The winners’ short stories will also be published on this website and on the Hoopla website.

OPENING & CLOSING DATES
The Competition opens on Day One Term One 2015 and all entries must be submitted by 5pm (AEDST) on Thursday 2 April 2015.  Click here to enter.

The winner and any runners up of the Competition will be publicly announced at a date to be determined by The Footpath Library.

ELIGIBILITY & ENTRY CRITERIA
Entries must address the theme of “Home is …” and meet the technical specifications as detailed on the entry page. NB: By submitting an entry you are automatically bound by The Footpath Library Short Story Competition Rules 2015.

If you have any queries please contact: comp@footpathlibrary.org