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HIGHLY COMMENDED, 2023 VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS, INDIGENOUS WRITING
Cartwarra or what? Selected poems and stories is a compendium of Alf’s works that span several literary genres, and is representative of an older generation of Blak writers who were survivors of the Stolen Generations. His poetry and short stories have been anthologised and published in various collections, spanning a career of over 30 years. This collection delicately weaves together his past works for a new generation, in which not much has changed.
This collection of stories and poems is, at best, raw, intermittently melodramatic, but always full of colourful, engaging characters imbued with playful humour and ironic storytelling. Alf seamlessly captures human frailty, in all its contradictions, and seizes upon ironies that coexist, merge and jostle for light and space in everyday Nyoongar life. Alf’s storytelling exposes the uncomfortable truths of alcoholism, separation from family, community and land, grief and the profound loss of identity on the everyday life of his Aboriginal characters.
Alf’s stories and poems offer a vivid picture of the care, kindness and gentleness of Aboriginal families and communities and their enduring strength, resourcefulness and power.