When the sky looks like the belly of a donkey
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Ways of Being Here features four stories by emerging writers Rafeif Ismail, Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Tinashe Jakwa and Yuot Alaak, winners of last year's 'Ways of Being Here' flash fiction competition, which was open to any writer of African heritage residing in Western Australia who had less than four published stories and/or articles. The stories featured are urgent, innovative, and inimitable, distinct voices that are easy to read, but hard to forget once you've entered their worlds, words, and thoughts. In her Foreword, Maxine Beneba Clarke says, 'When we speak of black narratives in Australia, it is crucial to first acknowledge the stories of this land – of Australia’s First Peoples. It is this canon which should be the foundation of any conversation about inclusiveness in our national literature. We must know, respect and raise up the truths and tales which have come before us: the uninterrupted storytelling which has occurred, and continues to sing here, for thousands upon thousands of years. Black people of African descent – black African diaspora settlers and migrants, and the descendants of such – have been living in Australia for over 200 years. Yet local African diaspora fiction has been markedly absent from Australian shelves. In an own voices sense, African Australia has long been invisible from Australian fiction. This collection is a seed; a sample; a sign of what will most certainly come to pass. Flooded with the rhythms, poetry and patterns of the mother continent, there is also something about these stories – their preoccupations and sensibilities – which feels familiar. These stories speak of duty, family, blood-ties, and history. These stories sing of love, loss, and loneliness. Here, there are tales of hybrid identity and cultural clashes, of both ostracism and embrace.' This collection is the outcome of a mentoring project facilitated by the Centre for Stories and funded by the Department of Culture and Arts (WA).
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