Kirli Saunders

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and an award-winning international Children’s Author and Poet as well as a Teacher, and emerging Artist. She leads Poetry in First Languages, delivered by Red Room Poetry. Her debut picture book The Incredible Freedom Machines was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and CBCA notables. Her poetry collection, Kindred was shortlisted for the ABIA 2020 Book Awards and FAB Booktopia Awards. She is the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award and University of Canberra ATSI Poetry prize (2019). She is an esteemed judge for the Val Vallis Poetry Prize. Kirli is the 2020 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year.


~ originally published in Kindred, 2019 (Magabala)

Little one,
I see you mouth empty spaces
for a mother’s words to fill
and sretch your ears
for the stories and their voices

I watch your trembling limbs
ache to shake
in dance
and hear your lungs
as they gasp with songs unknown

I feel your
body sans
and secret

and know that
it has been grown
with rots
from the earth
that cradled them

ad I taste the hunger
you do
to know the parts of yourself
to feel at home

when your
Dreaming has been taken

Go to Kirli Saunders’s profile to read more poems

Nicole Smede

Nicole is a classically trained vocalist, musician, and emerging poet with experience ranging from classical, theatre, rock and contemporary music through to film and other media. Born, raised and creating on Dharawal country, Nicole’s ancestry is Worimi.

Her voice has been heard on national youth broadcaster Triple J as well as globally on APRA Award-winning film scores.

Gugara Kuragia

~ This song is loosely based on Nicole Smede’s Poetry in First Languages’ commissioned poem ‘Wuri Rising‘ with Gumea Dharawal interpretations supported by Jacob Morris. 

Djurawalinyang by bulladiri gambi

djurawalinyang garululli
djurawalinyang djilinje

djurawalinyang djugulung marrumalga
wagamarre djibirnji
djurawalinyang garululli
Mannaguwan Gugul

nangari gudjagalali garrawangga bullawilla
we are ngabumurra, ngabu, googjagapa

Gugara kuragia.

Kookaburra Calls

We rise by dying embers
we rise allies

we rise star guided
we rise wood bowls in hand
searching for dew
we rise allies

Red Waratah (and) Bloodwood (tree)

sleeping babes (with) dreams returning
we are mother, grandmother and child

Kookaburra calls.


Gugara calls to wake up the sun and herald new beginnings (of the day). This song has inturn awakened my spirit, my connection to ancestry, my muse and my confidence as an artist and songwriter.

Go to Nicole Smede’s profile to read more poems

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