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'Kindred' receives special commendation in 2020 Kate Challis RAKA Award

Wed, Dec 16, 2020

Image credit: Kaz McGrath

Congratulations to Gunai poet Kirli Saunders! Kindred has received a special commendation in the 2020 Kate Challis RAKA Award. Announced 16 December, Natalie Harkin took out the award with her work Archival-Poetics, and Ali Cobby Eckermann also received a special commendation for Inside My Mother.

Speaking about the commendation, Kirli said:

“Congrats Nat and Aunty Ali, what a joy it is to learn from you and to share this space of storytelling, unlearning and truth speaking by your sides and on the paths laid out for us by our relentless and hopeful Old People.


“2020 has been a year of literary Blak outs with Jasmine Seymour and Leanne Mulgo Watson, Tony Birch, Tara June Winch, Gay’wu Group, and many other powerful writers being celebrated. It makes my heart sing to share poems of language, land, culture and community as the magic of mob rests in the limelight and to champion our traditions so they are always honoured.”

The Judges said of the book:

"Kirli Saunders' Kindred is a meditation on the universal themes of love, loss and belonging. While evoking the great Sufi masters in the potent efficiency and rhythm of her poems, Saunders work also remains deeply connected to Country and Culture. Divided into three sections “Mother, “Earth Child” and “Lover”, several of the poems include language taught to her by Elders and Community. Kindred is a potent insight into the extraordinary rich culture, power and beauty Indigenous voices offer to the world.”

The Kate Challis Ruth Adeney Koori Award, or RAKA, which means 'five' in the Pintupi language, is worth $20,000 and is awarded to an Indigenous artist in one of five categories annually, including: creative prose, poetry, script writing, drama and visual arts. The 2020 prize recognised the best poetry by an Indigenous writer published between 2015 and 2020.

Kindred is also shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for the Indigenous Writing Prize.