The Elephant not in the Room

A roomful of people in the dusk of the inaugural Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival, expectant, keen to hear and discuss “Carrots and Jaffas”. I anticipated we’d be fewer. I should have known Emily Lubitz (from Tin Pan Orange) and Martin Flanagan (journalist) would attract people. But Emily sent a series of text messages.

2300 last night: “Howie, we might need a rain check. My waters just broke. I’ll see the doc before tomorrow’s gig. Am keeping my legs crossed.”

1100 today: “Howie, I’m in hospital but not contracting. I asked the doc can I duck out for a couple of hours. She looked at me as if I was crazy. Still hoping I’ll be the elephant in the room.”

1300 today: “I’m contracting. If it’s a redheaded boy we’ll call him Jaffas or Carrots.”

So, no Emily.

Martin Flanagan, journalist, novelist, anthropophile, led a conversation about the book, about my choice to turn from serious non-fiction to the novel, about stolen children – the ultimate wound, about twinness, about the problems and pitfalls of the whitefella writing about blackfellas.

An audience of committed, highly informed and compassionate people engaged us in a conversation about the interfaces between Australia’s first peoples and later comers. They explored the curious and recurrent engagement of blackfellas in Jewish affairs that started with William Cooper, and the reciprocal engagement by Jews in Aboriginal advancement.

Martin and our audience created an atmosphere of the most distinctive quality. Humans and their stories, people and their dreams, the mystery and the sanctity of the Dreaming, the heritage that is memory, the sacrament that is storytelling – all these were raised up and seen at their height.

We went home fulfilled.

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2 thoughts on “The Elephant not in the Room

  1. I’m glad to meet another Melbournian born in the same year as myself! ( though I’m secretly Tasmanian, living in Victoria). I enjoyed reading the above, especially Emily’s desire to be at the M. Jewish writer’s festival; could visualise her crossing her legs! Interesting mix of Aboriginal/Jewish themes must run through your work, expressing what lies beyond labels. Sounds enthralling!

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    • in pearcedale’s quiet
      abides the pyett:
      aloft her pen,
      she sits in her den,
      writing and reading,
      citing and heeding,
      an alert tasmaniac…

      bkp – if the Jewish -Aboriginal weave intrigues you, see my non-fiction book, “Raft” (Hybrid, 2009) – chockers with that intersection of cultures

      Like

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