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Deng Adut

The other evening, I was asked to photograph the New Members Ceremony for the Golden Key Honours Society from Western Sydney University Campus. Areas of Western Sydney are areas of welfare and poverty, and it was inspirational to hear stories of people who have managed to achieve high marks in their studies so far. Only the top 15% of students are offered a place in this society which prides itself on 3 pillars, Academia, Leadership and Service.IMG_2147

I have been a member of Golden Key now for about 8 months, having first been invited when I was doing my degree at ACU. It was because of my involvement with that chapter, that I was invited to take the photos at the ceremony for new members.

One of the highlights of the evening for me, was hearing a young man named Deng Adut give the keynote speech, and receive his honorary membership to the society. Deng was born in Sudan. At 6 years of age, he was taken by an army from his war torn village. he was made into a child soldier. Deng has written a book of his harrowing ordeals called “Songs of a War Boy”. you can purchase a copy here. http://dengadut.com/dengs-book/IMG_2220 (2)

Deng was shot a number of times and carried schrapnel around in his body. As a result of one of his injuries, he was unsure whether he would be able to father a child. On Friday evening, he told us a miracle had occurred and he became a father 3 weeks previous.

Deng arrived with his brothers, still a wounded child. When he arrived, he could not speak much English, and he could not read or write. He taught himself and did anything he could to drag himself through school and later University, graduating in Accountancy and then Masters of Law. He is now a partner in his own law firm, and a greatly sought after public speaker. Deng gave the Australian of the Year speech in 2016 and became NSW Australian of the year in 2017.

It was an honour to hear him speak, inspiring the high acheiving students in the room to keep going.

The older brother who helped Deng escape into Kenya, to later be granted refugee status in Australia, returned to South Sudan as an Aid worker. Unfortunately he lost his life while saving others. deng has started a foundation in his honour. It is called the John Mac Foundation. It is “a charity working to educate and empower refugees and people whose lives have been interrupted by war.” Donations to the charity, and to find out more about it, you can go to http://johnmacfoundation.org/

I hope you find inspiration in the life of Deng Adut. If a wounded Child Soldier, who cant speak English, work to achieve a Masters of Law, become a father, and help so many others, what can someone who grew up in a privileged western society do.

Blessings

Dave

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Filed under Comments and classwork, Photos

Pacifist?

(written after my course ended but still relevant to the course, so I have included it under the subject of American Writing in the menu,)

Recently I studied Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac and other beatnik poems. Ginsberg called himself a pacifist. I questioned this. I believe I have the same protesting spirit as Ginsberg and others, however I do not call myself a pacifist.

a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind. 2. a person whose personal belief in pacifism causes him or her to refuse being drafted into military service. Compare conscientious objector.

A passivist is something quite different. It means being submissive in nature, particularly in a sexual situation.

I am not sure which Allen Ginsberg was referring to, I don’t want to think about the second. I do believe he was a lover of peace, however was not a true pacifist in the sense of the word.

My words, writing my mind can be a weapon against an oppressive, corrupt or unjust government, rulers or laws. As a protest poet, I shoot my literary arrow deep into the hearts of leaders, and others who can make a difference, until their hearts bleed empathy. I do not stop until I wound. I am not to kill with my words (as a famous song does), but to heal. Where one was running into battle as an oppressor, he now limps away, with his heart changed and fights for the opposition to the oppressive.A-1678614-1321804331.jpeg

My words, my art and my photos are not meant to leave you comfortable if I am working on a social justice or human rights issue. They will not give you warm and fuzzy feelings. They are meant to make it feel like you are sitting on granite, something hard and uncomfortable enough to make you want to move.

 

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Filed under American Writing, creative posts, literature, Uncategorized

Reading Australia Summative Entry

Summative Entry, Reading Australia

 

This Semester I undertook a course entitled Reading Australia. This was not merely reading literature of the land but learning that there is more to this land than what is on the surface.

Judith Wright was a poet who besides writing wonderful poetry about nature, made some analogies with nature to human life. The patterns of life, similar to the patterns in the landscape, the seasons, which come and go, and come again.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/judith-wright-poems/

 

We also studied an incredible man who even though locked up in a mental institution, or locked also within his own mind, his own prison, could see past the bars and the fences and free his spirit to write some incredible poetry. I made the point about Francis Webb, to my lecturer, that I struggle not just to understand the poetry of Webb, but also the complexity of the person himself. My lecturer told me that he had done a Phd on Webb, and till says the same thing himself. Is this a man who was meant to be understood?

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/relating-to-francis-webb/

 

Tree of Man by Patrick White was the first novel studied in this course. It is a story about the pioneers in the bush on the outskirts of Sydney. The book tells the story of the Aussie equivalent to Adam and Eve; a couple who were the first to clear land and build in the bush, to plant, to raise milk cows, and hens. It is the story of one man’s spiritual and actual journey of life as he discovers who he is and indeed who God is. The patterns of life again put in an appearance.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/the-tree-of-man-patrick-white/

I also looked at Patrick White as being a transcendentalist, and linked him with the writing and philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/patrick-white-and-ralph-waldo-emerson/

 

In the course, David Malouf again made an appearance, and I must say that this being the last course of my undergraduate degree, I shall miss studying the work of David Malouf, at least at a classroom level. I have a number of books and collections of his short stories that I haven’t even tried to study yet. I can do so in my own time. The book from Malouf this time was Conversations at Curlow Creek. This is a tale of the capture and subsequent hanging (or is it) of a young bushranger. The book uncovers the conversations between the captured and the executioner, in a hut, in the middle of the bush, the night before the scheduled hanging. The executioner has come to find out information about a sibling that has possibly gone missing and rogue in the bush, but leaves with a lot more information, about himself after spending the night in this bush hut. I really enjoy David Malouf writing.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/a-house-divided-conversations-at-curlow-creek/

 

After the class went to the Art Gallery for a visit, I decided to do an expose piece on the painting Bailed Up by Tom Roberts. I looked at how the painting was done, as well as a history behind the famous Cobb & Co coaches, that travelled through the bush here in the 1800’s. It was these coaches that were subject to the robberies by bushrangers, and thereby the subject of the paintings. I think studying this painting also gave me an appreciation of bushrangers and coaches when I studied Curlow Creek.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/bailed-up-by-tom-roberts/

 

 

My place is the book written by the indigenous author and painter Sally Morgan. Sally starts this book as a first-person narrative, then moves on to tell the story of other people who are prominent in her life, through their own eyes. Sally interviewed these people and they all told their own stories about what it is like to be aboriginal. There is some reminiscing until Sally finally takes her mum back to the station where the family or the mob come from. We learn that Nan, is aboriginal not indeed Indian as was thought by Sally as a child. Nan has a deep connection with the land and with nature. She may deny her skin colour and her heritage, but she can not deny the land which owns her soul. Nan passes on hints and her love of nature to Sally. In my blog, I have looked at the bush medicine and old remedies from the bush. This is a book of discovery. Sally discovers who she is, as an aboriginal woman. Our class discussions around this book led to people discussing their own culture, and the place where we as individuals belong. We each discovered My Place.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/my-place/

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/sally-morgans-nan-and-bush-remedies/

 

This was a lovely course and one that I really appreciate doing. The course was not needed for me to pass my degree, but it was a subject that I was interested in. This course showed me the spirituality of the indigenous peoples, the complexity of humans in general and how important it is not only to care for the land in which we live, but care for the custodians of the land. Those whose ancestors were slaughtered and whose bloodline was almost lost because of the atrocities of colonisation. It confirmed in me the underlying message that was prevalent throughout my journey in my degree. That being that each person is an individual, each person has value. The lesson here is that God loves us not just collectively, but individually. God has a plan. Trust him…and hold on, it may be a bumpy ride.

 

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Filed under Reading Australia, Summative Post

Judith Wright Poems

Judith Wright was a poet with insights into indigenous people and nature. She told of patterns in life, and in Australia. She and Patrick White both saw patterns. I wonder if they would have got on well together, if anybody could indeed keep White as a friend.

In Five Senses, we see that all five senses are equally important. They create a rhythm, a pattern. Apart, sometimes we can not make sense of what we see, what we hear, or smell or feel. But together they dance. The senses working together create a pattern, which, when followed, can enhance a persons life, make them whole.

Like the world or community. When we are fragmented we are only a part of a whole, incomplete. Sure we can make our own music, but the symphony comes when all instruments work together, playing the same tune.

Judith says :”pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine”.  The pattern or Rhythm of life was there before, it was only now that Judith has recognised it for what it is. By saying “It is not mine” acknowledges that the Rhythm comes from outside the body, but is implanted within us, perhaps that Rhythm of life is from God.

Now my five senses
gather into a meaning
all acts, all presences;
and as a lily gathers
the elements together,
in me this dark and shining,
that stillness and that moving,
these shapes that spring from nothing,
become a rhythm that dances,
a pure design.

While I’m in my five senses
they send me spinning
all sounds and silences,
all shape and colour
as thread for that weaver,
whose web within me growing
follows beyond my knowing
some pattern sprung from nothing-
a rhythm that dances
and is not mine.

 

Legend – Poem by Judith Wright

The blacksmith’s boy went out with a rifle
and a black dog running behind.
Cobwebs snatched at his feet,
rivers hindered him,
thorn branches caught at his eyes to make him blind
and the sky turned into an unlucky opal,
but he didn’t mind.
I can break branches, I can swim rivers, I can stare out
any spider I meet,
said he to his dog and his rifle.

The blacksmith’s boy went over the paddocks
with his old black hat on his head.
Mountains jumped in his way,
rocks rolled down on him,
and the old crow cried, You’ll soon be dead.
And the rain came down like mattocks.
But he only said,
I can climb mountains, I can dodge rocks, I can shoot an old crow any day,
and he went on over the paddocks.

When he came to the end of the day, the sun began falling,
Up came the night ready to swallow him,
like the barrel of a gun,
like an old black hat,
like a black dog hungry to follow him.
Then the pigeon, the magpie and the dove began wailing
and the grass lay down to pillow him.
His rifle broke, his hat blew away and his dog was gone and the sun was falling.

But in front of the night, the rainbow stood on the mountain,
just as his heart foretold.
He ran like a hare,
he climbed like a fox;
he caught it in his hands, the colours and the cold –
like a bar of ice, like the column of a fountain,
like a ring of gold.
The pigeon, the magpie and the dove flew up to stare,
and the grass stood up again on the mountain.

The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder
instead of his broken gun.
Lizards ran out to see, snakes made way for him,
and the rainbow shone as brightly as the sun.
All the world said, Nobody is braver, nobody is bolder,
nobody else has done
anything equal to it. He went home as easy as could be
with the swinging rainbow on his shoulder.

When I first read this poem, I thought that the Blacksmiths boy was perhaps a gay boy who knew that he could do anything he put his mind to. He could conquer everything put in his way. I got the idea that he was gay from the line “The blacksmith’s boy hung the rainbow on his shoulder”. However, the rainbow wasn’t adopted by the gay community until the late 70’s. Even though it is possible that this poem was written after that period, there is no proof of that. I thought that perhaps putting the rainbow on his shoulder, and the rainbow shone brightly was alluding to gay pride. But equally it could be talking about proud to be an aborigine, proud to be who you are and showing the world. The blacksmiths boy was a violent masculine boy, but he exchanged his gun for a rainbow and became peaceful. Perhaps we all need a little rainbow in our lives.Hmm perhaps this one will take further research and analysis.
Dave
footnote. When searching for an image to go with this poem, I found the one below It makes sense, even in the Judith Wright poem. I wonder if Wright was influenced by this quote by Dickens…definitely needs more research.
Image result for blacksmiths boy

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Filed under critical posts, Reading Australia

My Place

Image result for sally morgan

Go into any backyard in the old parts of Sydney, Blacktown in the west, Earlwood in the south, and Asquith in the north. You will find in these yards a lawn surrounded by a mix of natives and introduced species. But go to a derelict building, and the natives take over again, killing off all the introduced species. It Is the paspaplum and kangaroo grass that survives, growing high, through cracks and crevasses left in crumbling fibro houses. It’s the wattle and the bottlebrush that somehow survive or repropogate in the same spots year after year. These are plant that can be pruned, shaped to fit into a cultivated garden, to look pretty, to keep within the borders.

When the hard times come, it’s the natives that survive. When bushfire ravages the Royal National Park, or the Blue Mountains, It’s the Banksia plants that will come up first. The fire having popped all the seed pods, and the ash covered them into the soil. The Coastal Rosemaries grow up again, and we see new branches appearing from old stumps of the mighty Gum trees. The natives of Australia are resilient.

So too the native people of our land. We as westerners, colonisers, really gave the indigenous population a hard time, from the time we arrived and claimed the land to be ours, right to the present day.

My Place by Sally Morgan is a book that describes lives of indigenous people with the trials and tribulations, the hard times, and the funny ones too. She tells it first in first person narrative, but then switches to narrative after interviewing various characters, REAL PEOPLE, in her book.

Sally has been highlighting abuses and inequality in our country for over 30 years. It is because of Sally, and others like her, that indigenous people have felt comfortable to expose themselves for who they really are. Sally tells primarily indigenous people that they don’t have to be ashamed of who they are any more. If people around you are uncomfortable with that, STIFF, they can get out of the way, cause the natives are here to stay.

Image result for sally morgan

What and incredible lesson for all of us to learn. No matter what culture you belong to, where you come from, it’s important to find out who you are, and be comfortable with who you are. Be ashamed no more.

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Filed under critical posts, Reading Australia

Summative Post American Writing

 

This semester, I have studied two subjects; American writing and Reading Australia. It is the last semester that I am an undergraduate. It has also been the toughest for me in terms of Mental and Physical health, and some major stresses including having to move home and forking out a lot of money to repair a car, which I later had to replace.

I thank all of my followers around the world, and at ACU for staying with me, believing in me, and reading some of my rantings. It’s been fun, but it ain’t over yet. Hold onto your hats as I take you on a journey of discovery while I study honours and masters over the coming years.

American writing helped expand my thinking not only in literature but in life. I guess I always knew there were injustices in the world. We see the pictures on TV all the time. We here about the Dakota Pipeline, Martin Luther King Jnr, massacres and murders, violence and…violence. I thought I could make a difference to my part of the world by writing about the atrocities and exposing them, bringing the blood into people’s loungerooms and get it on their bedside tables. Now I see that there have been many who have written before me, many who have tried to fight injustices, to expose them so that maybe some people will cry SHAME, and help to ensure that it never happens again.

Violence, bigotry, racism misogyny and other hate speech and actions have no place in the world in 2017. Yet it’s still part of the world. And so, as those who wrote before me, chipped away, little by little, I will continue to do the same. Thanks for reading.

Dave

American Writing started by looking at the writings of the Indigenous people group of America. I decided to do a blog about the importance of dance in cultures around the world, including in the Native American culture. Dance helps connect the people with the land. Dance was the early literature to many races around the world, including the indigenous people groups of America and Australia.

 https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/spiritual-importance-of-dance/

American Writing dealt with the perceived need by writers to create an American Voice, something uniquely American. The desire firstly was to remove itself from the classic romantic writers of Britain. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau and others formed a movement called  ‘The Transcendentalists’. These writers were anti-establishment, anti-organised religion (after Swedenborg) and all for creating new paths in previously unexplored areas of literature.

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/8743068/posts/1564487387

We then looked at Huckleberry Finn, perhaps as a transcendentalist story. I did some in depth blog posts about Mark Twain firstly as a prose writer and protester, and then as a person who suffered a lot of hardship and grief in his life.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/mark-twain-prose-writer-and-protester/

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/mark-twain-the-somber-side/

I made a link between the writings and philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Patrick white. I entered this in both American Literature and Reading Australia.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/patrick-white-and-ralph-waldo-emerson/

We then studied some Negro writers. I found James Baldwin to be a very inspirational writer. He was a leading protester of his time, but used his intellect instead of religion as a tool for protest. This sets him apart from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jnr, however he was friends with both. The movie I am not your Negro highlights portions of his life and protests, and was written by Baldwin himself.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/white-is-a-metaphor-for-power-james-baldwin/

I then wrote a creative piece in response to “As I Lay Dying” by William Faulkner. On the book, which has also been made into a movie. Each character has an internalised dialogue, which is synonymous with modernist writers. I chose to have an internalised dialogue of a dying writer.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/as-i-lay-dying-falkner/

I related closely to the Beatnik poets, in particular Allen Ginsberg. He raises a lot of questions, and protests many of the same things that I still do some 60 years or so later. I chose to do a blog, which which I later chose as my Best Critical Blog outlining a link between Allen Ginsberg and the transcendentalists that came before him.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/alan-ginsbergtranscendentalist/

I also composed a poem after Ginsberg which I gave the title of Hierachy of Power.

https://s00156364.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/a-poem-after-ginsberg/

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Filed under American Writing, Summative Entry

Peer Review Elleni: DuBois

https://elleniboutsikakisblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/american-writing-blog-5/

Colonisation on all levels is bad for the natives. It is the natives of a land who feel a connection to it. The black people of America did not choose to be there. They were not only colonised but relocated. Forced to live in a culture, which was not theirs. They could identify with the native population, because the whites were despised by both. Black people formed a social construction , or culture of their own. They had little resources when it came to food and cooking, but they made the best of what they had access to, and now southern fried chicken and collard greens are sold world wide. The music of the Africans came with the people. The deep resonating voices of African singers, moved to the southern states of America, and the blues were created. Nobody sings the blues like an African American. Listen if you will, to Paul Robeson singing Old Man River, or Mahalia Jackson singing a spiritual song. Tell me you can’t hear the centuries of pain.

Thanks for your blog, it opened some wounds for me about the social injustices that minorities go through. We must acknowledge though the richness of culture what the African American people give to America.
Dave

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Filed under American Writing, Peer Reviews