Charmaine Papertalk Green wins the ALS Gold Medal 2020
Charmaine Papertalk Green has been named the 2020 winner of the ALS Gold Medal for their extraordinary poetry collection, Nganajungu Yagu.
A visual artist, poet, writer, independent curator and social sciences researcher, Green is a member of the Wajarri, Badimaya and Nhanagardi cultural groups from the Yamaji Nation of Western Australia.
Below are her own words about her award-winning work:
“Forty years ago, letters, words and feelings flowed between a teenage daughter and her mother. Letters written by that teenage daughter – me – handed around family back home, disappeared. Yet letters from that mother to her teenage daughter – me – remained protected in my red life-journey suitcase. I carried them across time and landscapes as a mother would carry her baby in a thaga.
In 1978–79, I was living in an Aboriginal girls’ hostel in the Bentley suburb of Perth, attending senior high school. Mum and I sent handwritten letters to each other. I was a small-town teenager stepping outside of all things I had ever known. Mum remained in the only world she had ever known.
Nganajungu Yagu was inspired by Mother’s letters, her life and the love she instilled in me for my people and my culture. A substantial part of that culture is language, and I missed out on so much language interaction having moved away. I talk with my ancestors’ language – Badimaya and Wajarri – to honour ancestors, language centres, language workers and those Yamaji who have been and remain generous in passing on cultural knowledge.”
The ALS Gold Medal is awarded annually by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) for a ‘work of outstanding literary merit’ published in the previous calendar year. Find out more here.