Goodbye 2017 Hello 2018

This year was beautiful but also bittersweet at the same time. I got my own place, my pop visited from Malta, I gained some stability in my work, fell in and out of love but found strength in my friends and sisters especially when I felt my lowest. I also got to travel a hell of a lot while developing my own creative practice. It was an honour to mentor fellow creatives and kids of all ages and be inspired by them instead. Plus the chance to contribute to some pretty amazing events and festivals. I said hello to new friendships and goodbye to some precious loved ones. Amongst it all you smiled and laughed with me in joy. So thank you my family and friends first you know who you are, to all those I worked with i can’t wait to work together again, and to all who shared in making this year a memorable one. I value the memories we made together! 


May your spirit grow stronger and your mind grow wiser.

Bring on 2018🦋

Murrun Wek Wurrpa! – Live Laugh Love! ❤️

Daydreamer

Daydreamer… Shake those thoughts and feelings free from the tangles of your curls. Let them drift off your shoulders and flow naturally along your curves. Allow the words to drip from the rouge of your lips and stain the pages. Tattooed beautifully raw so others may read the depths of your soul, and be inspired. 

K.Clarke 2017

Self reflection…

Hello fellow writers, bloggers and readers.
As part of a self love and care workshop the group was asked to imagine how we see ourselves, our self worth and how we would expect to be loved.

I think in the end it was an inspirational experiment and I can only encourage others – who may lack the confidence, or don’t feel as though they know their own self worth – to do the same in their own time. You dont have to share it with everyone.. if anything it should be a personal letter or conversation to yourself and read by you whenever you need a “pick me up”. I have only chosen to share this because I believe that I may not be the only one and other women may see themselves in the words shared. We had to be open and honest so to be truthful,  as I subconsciously wrote the words in my notebook it became a real eye opener.

Dear Friend,

You asked me if I know Kat. What would you like to know?  I can tell you alot about her. She’s someone with a huge heart she will bend on backwards and fold herself in half helping someone if she can do anything. Her loyalty to the ones that mean something to her is unheard of nowadays. She’s smiles like she’s never been hurt, and if you didn’t know her, you wouldn’t imagine her ever to be hurt. But it happens alot more than anyone realises.
If ya wanna know the truth she is fragile, and takes everything to heart. I’m not surprised if you dont know her though.. Because she’s really cautious and her letting someone close to her is a rare thing to happen. There are demons inside her that she’s constantly fighting with. Plus she’s alot worse to herself than anything that could be said to her. Her past is not one of her favourite subjects she wouldn’t expect anyone to notice her or to listen to the things she has to say that aren’t necessary to be said.
If she realises that she truly loves and trust you, her love is free flowing.. Sincere at times and very innocent. She may expect the same love in return but this is not difficult. If you don’t love her the same way.. it may take a huge toll on her and she may shut down from the world until she felt herself again. Because she would never demand your love.
On one hand, her approach to love is beautiful, pure and genuine – it should never change. On the other hand, it’s important to value communication because words matter to her when her heart is involved. To be honest and fair though, making her feel special doesn’t require all the glitz and glam, just being in her corner and making her smile goes a long way. She’s understanding and will listen.. She would treat you better than any other relationship you’ve known.
But if you really want to know.. I’m telling you she is worth it all. She’s nothing you’d ever expect and you’ll feel alive in a way that you never have with her in your life. If you’re not sure how you feel about her you’ll soon know as soon as she leaves. Her absence is felt quickly and you’ll find that no one will ever love you quite the same. For she is capable of magical things and those little moments that take your breath away. She’s a splash of sass, and a dash of crazy. She will never lose hope and has faith that everything she does is either for the better, or for a reason, or its simply meant to be. But do be honest with her, she hates lies. Her temper may flare and at times her stubbornness too. But her crazy is worth enduring, it means she trust you to be herself even when she may feel crazy at times.
Her charm isn’t a glaring light that calls for attention, it’s more like the kind of charming beauty one would see when the rays of the sunset glistens between the leaves of trees. It doesn’t call for wild attention but the kind that stops you in your tracks and makes you take a breath. She isn’t perfect but who is? The main thing is she isn’t fake either. She’s a companion for life but that doesnt mean she will sit around waiting for you to realise what you got. She is beauty and brians, the total package, and will be your support when things get rough. Because she understands you more than you could ever imagine. So don’t ask me again if I know her.. Just trust you have met someone who is unique and rare to find, as a friend, colleague or lover.. She is grounded and loyal so take a good look. Make a decision if you want her around before it’s too late and she walks out of your life for good. Trust me.. I know… Because I almost lost her myself.

Forever Gold

We walked by the riverbed

You whistled a tune that made the energy around feel uplifted

Where even the weakest feel spirited…

We shared a few laughs and spoke of stories long and tall

Stories of Family, Friends, Culture and the various animals

Then I cried, you cried and we cried for all…

And the memories of unconditional love that would never grow old

Forever Gold…

 

We arrived by a giant River Gum and camped a while

There you explained its roots and branches that reached for miles

The gentleness of your voice made me smile…

You told how the seed you planted and the care you’d shown

Had helped heal the soul, made way for new beginnings

and brought a fresh perspective that only few could ever have known

From an old River Gum, a Tree of Knowledge had grown…

Its wisdom you nurtured for all to share and behold

Forever Gold…

 

You should know, we walked the same sandy path along the riverbed

And returned to that Tree of Knowledge you had shared

There we sat a while recalling all you had said

all you had hoped and believed…

In peace and humbleness, your wings sheltered and guided us

Your journey well travelled at its best

Its time to now let that spirit of yours rest…

Dear, Friend, Uncle, Father, Grandfather

You’re a respected Wanderer, Dreamer and Storyteller

One of a kind, there could be no other…

As seasons pass our hearts will mend, but truth be told

You’re Forever Gold…

 

by Kat Clarke 19/01/17

 

For Uncle Len Tregonning

 

The year that was.. 2016

Oh my… I would first like to apologise for my poorly attended WordPress blog. Like Diana Ross and the Supremes sang, ain’t it funny how time slips away.

It seems this year certainly has been a busy one. Even so, I haven’t had the time until now to update you all. So where do I even begin to explain myself? At the beginning of the year I really had no idea that I’d be where I am now. Work had been up and down in the early months, still.. what can you do but carry on.  Despite this minor setback, it gave time to develop my writing craft, knowledge, and profile in the arts, literary and film industries.

I also have a lot of people to thank for this year also. So thank you family and friends foremost. Without you all, as always, I would be nowhere – it is your support that keeps me going.  Thank you for being that rock when I needed you. Thank you world for allowing me time out to see TLC with my sista.. Haha! Unforgettable night!  Finally, to all who I had the pleasure to meet, network with and actually produce some kickass projects with. I have gained so much wisdom and experience I couldn’t ask for more. So without further delay, here is a brief run through of what I am proud to say I was apart of and had contributed to during the year that was 2016.

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In February of 2016, the first Victorian Indigenous Literary Festival was held in Melbourne. I was asked by a dear friend and mentor to perform for their closing event – The Bogong. This  gave me a chance to get back into performing, I hadn’t done any kind of stage performance since 2007; I used to sing and write songs then perform them at community events with the deadly mob at the Indigenous Education Centre, Kangan Institute. In 2010, I had written and performed a spoken word piece but that would have to be the last time. So you can guess, my nerves were the usual kind of agony yet I was relieved.. for it was a successful night, nonetheless, and I got the chance to meet some influential authors/writers I look up to.

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Within the beginning of April, I was contacted by the director of Writer’s Victoria to be one of the writers to enter in their Personal Patron program. I became sponsored by a patron  and mentored by a writer who I connected with. If interested you can read all about that journey here: Personal Patron Mentorship.

Still jobless around May I was attending numerous job interviews and almost threw in the towel but thought; well maybe I’ll just paint for a living. Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) was a beaming light that came from my side view. After sitting for an interview to enter into their Emerging Cultural Leaders and Blakstream Cultural Arts Program (ECL/BLAKSTREAM)  I felt that I had finally found the right pathway to that BIGGER dream I had lingering in my mind. That dream of building a sister community cultural arts centre in the Wimmera. The group was probably the most inspiring, creative mix of talent, and I am fortunate to have made some really solid friendships because of this experience FCAC provided.  I was given an opportunity to harness the skills and knowledge of arts production and management thanks to the program and I recommend others to look into it. Blakstream will run for another year so I am looking forward to what is to come next in 2017.

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Not long after I got the offer at FCAC. Melbourne University had offered me a job working as their  Project Officer for Indigenous Undergraduate STEM Internship program at Murrup Barak, Parkville Campus. Little did I know that working here would change my life, with a lot of University and Academic politics flying around (usual stuff)  I found my feet and have been running with the program ever since. To provide some insight, the work entails developing and rolling out a program that suits the needs and career desires of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Undergraduates. Having been employed in July, the program has been going through some changes, and most likely will again. But I am glad to say we have students already keen to begin as of March 2017. The team of staff have become a second family to me and  I look forward to our on-going working relationship.

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Once August turned up, I was contemplating the work I was doing and found I hadn’t really had the chance to commit to any real film projects. Then like fate working it’s little guidance and some sweat and tears, I began working as a casual Cultural Advisor for various film and gaming projects this also led to becoming an Associate Producer for the First Nations Script To Screen Film Initiative where we produced a short film titled, Half written by Stephanie Skinner and recently screened at Made In Melbourne Film Festival 2016. Majority of these film projects are still in the workshop, make sure you keep following to get all the updates in 2017.

A few other things on top of the above:

  • Featured Writer for Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s Booklover’s Festival
  • Became a casual extra for an award winning TV drama.
  • Became a member of the newly created Blak Writers Group

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WOW! Ok so maybe I over did it a little. Friends and colleagues always ask “when do I sleep?” My answer for many was: hardly, but I manage to.  In 2017 I am excited for my on-going employment with the University of Melbourne. Beginning my residencies as a writer on behalf of RMIT University, continuing my work and consultation with all things Cultural and Film and of course crossing paths with you all at some stage.

 

So what can I leave you with?

 

This year, I actually had to say goodbye to a few projects I was committed to – I was sad to leave but know they were the right decisions to make at the time of my departure from them. My mentor Paola Balla said to me; “You have to know when to say no to some things.” It’s good to help or work here and there with others, and yeah they can be really amazing opportunities you are given but you need to look after yourself too. Another mentor John Paul had said “Managing projects is like cooking. You have two, three, maybe four projects stirring on the stove top, and that’s manageable. You should only have something cooking in the oven if you really think you can handle it but make sure no to burn or over cook it and yourself.” So my advice from this year would be make time for that SELF CARE. If you really are someone who is dedicated and passionate about what you do, then others will be willing to continue working with you even if you have to tell them “No.” sometimes. Thats been one of my greatest lessons this year, that plus discovering more about love and relationships.

I can’t ignore the fact that we have also loss so many prominent figures, legends and dearly loved ones over the year. Some of us are still trying to cope, heal and mourn as the new year arrives. I can only say, I understand. I feel your pain and I mourn with you in spirit. Believe that although they have left us, we have learnt something precious about life. Hold those moments close to your heart and let their lessons (or moments) project outward from within you. For those loved ones, figures and legends were influential to YOU. You become a stronger and much more wiser individual  because of them and those little life moments. If anything gather them into a ball of energy and carry them in your heart. Allow them to heal YOU into the new year and let them shine through YOU in little moments you share with others who loves and remembers them the way YOU do.

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Until then I wish you all a safe and exciting transition from 2016 – 2017.

 

Happy New Year!

 

In Unity,

Kat Clarke

 

Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s Book Lover’s Festival

This year the Yarra Plenty Regional Library is hosting it’s 8th Annual Book Lover’s Fest!

Here is just some events this week…

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I will be doing a talk too for Lalor Library so if you have time come along.

Our Stories: Communicating Indigenous Stories

A Cause to Fight: Lupus and You

“My face is stinging!” She cried.

My mum had the “butterfly effect” break out across her face. It looked like a Mozzie had bitten both of her cheeks and flared them like the wings of a butterfly. But this was normal for someone who is affected by Lupus.

“It’s like my skin is burning, I’m tired every second day. I hate feeling limited”. She explained.

 

For those who don’t know what Lupus is, don’t feel ashamed, I didn’t either. It wasn’t until my Mum was diagnosed in 2010, that I had first heard the “L-word”, and what it meant for her and that quality of life. Lupus had been living with my mother from the age of sixteen but it stayed dormant until a terrible traumatic event triggered its activity. Knowing I didn’t fully understand I turned to books and researching the web for answers, anything that would help my Mum and our family through this trying time. You could say we were unprepared for what we did find, then came my Mum’s Angina attack in 2012 we discovered the real effects of what Lupus could do. These days, Mum has a second lease on life and takes her rehabilitation serious enough to feel in control of life again, but that’s not to say she still doesn’t have a down day every now and then, to be honest we don’t know what to expect next but we’re learning everyday.

 

Seeing how May is Lupus Awareness Month, I took to writing this article in hope of inspiring others, like myself, to push for more awareness. The fact that my family and I knew little about Lupus to begin with, made me wonder if they’re others out there who were just as lost in finding out more information and support. Lupus affects over 5000 million worldwide so why isn’t there more awareness on a public platform? I guess it begins with people like you and me.

 

There are many different types of Lupus, one of the more extreme being Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which is like nothing I have ever seen before. Lupus affects those ‘diagnosed simultaneously or sequentially, and many suffer irreversible immune-mediated inflammatory damage in the brain, kidneys, heart, central nervous system, lungs, joints, skin, blood and other organs’ (Monash Lupus Clinic website). As far as researchers know it is incurable, a debilitating multisystem autoimmune disease that is manageable through a collective of prescribed medications’. These include: antimalarials, cytotoxic immunosuppressant’s and sometimes glucocorticoids depending on the patient because every Lupus patient is separate from the next and can range from mild to extreme in many cases. To simplify, for a Lupus patient, the immune system goes wild and attacks itself, usually in the form of damage to the skin, blood and organs. It’s often said that no two cases are alike, but some of the most common symptoms include fevers, rashes, hair loss, mouth ulcers, fatigue, pain and chest pain. When an organ is being directly affected by lupus, other symptoms can occur. Cases range from mild to fatal, in Australia alone 1 in 1000 are at risk, predominantly females aged 15 – 44 and an even higher severity for Indigenous Australian and Asian communities Nationwide.

 

 

Despite the little known information that I did discover, in recent years there have been a number of people and groups calling for action in research and support for Lupus sufferers. Co-Founder and Deputy Secretary of Lupus Victoria Vu Nguyen; who is also a vocal advocate for lupus sufferers was only a child when she was first diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Since being diagnosed and speaking more recently about managing daily life living with Lupus, Nguyen describes her experience as being pretty tough she says ‘one year after my stroke I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Recently my fits have increased and in turn I’ve been experiencing memory loss. I’ve had to be placed on a different medication but for example, just four days ago it happened in a public car park. At the time I knew what was happening and could remember everything, but when I went to see my doctor the next day I couldn’t even recall the incident. My Mum had to provide the doctor with the details. But that is what I mean by not everyone is the same when you’ve been diagnosed with Lupus’ When speaking about the research Nguyen explains, ‘Our board [at Lupus Victoria] is made up of 5 members, and we each spread the word through our own personal networks when we first began our research and it has grown from there’.

 

In her blog Life with Lucus, Vu Nguyen takes a lighter and more positive perspective, as she introduces you to Lucus (aka Lupus). Through Life with Lucus, Nguyen shares her desires, her pain and joy of what it is like living with Lucus and how her relationship with “him” has given her a drive to not only fight back, but also find a cure. With the help and support from her family and Monash University’s ongoing commitment in their research for a cure, Nguyen encourages others like herself to fight back against the disease, ‘we’re all here [at Lupus Victoria] to help and share the support, we also offer sponsorship packages to organisation or individuals who want to support the research we do’ she said. Nguyen also shed some light on the Lupus Support Group, an online Facebook page that provides an open floor for community to have discussion’s surrounding Lupus, and advises all Lupus sufferers to join if they have a Facebook account. At the moment there are a majority of women sufferers who are apart of the group but they would love to hear from anyone including any males who may not have a support network or even understand what’s going on. Nguyen says, ‘stay strong, we’re out there to help”.

 

For many who are interested in showing their support or whether you are a sufferer or know someone who is affected by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), then you’ll be happy to hear that this year’s Annual Charity Lupus Cocktail Ball will be held on the 22nd October 2016. Being in its third year the event is said to be a night of celebration with fantastic entertainment and dinner brought to you by the team at Lupus Victoria and their sponsors. Nguyen says, ‘Last year we had over 350 people attend, and we raised over $14,000 through auctioning excellent prizes and gifts donated to us through our sponsors and networks. This year we want to beat that attendance with 500 guests, so come along and bring your family, friends and loved ones.’ All money raised will be donated to Monash University and their continuous research at the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases. To purchase your tickets and show your support you can contact Lupus Victoria at: www.lupusvictoria.com.au. Or to find out more information regarding Lupus, or if you are looking to link in or share your support just go to the following websites below.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lupusvictoria/?fref=ts

Lupus Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/737002116377219/

Life with Lucus Blog: https://vunguyen23.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/life-with-lucus /

 

References:

You, the Fireflies, Bogong, and I

A heart beneath a habitat of artificial bushland,
and Man-made waterholes.
Beats an unstable rhythm,
deep in my soul.
Amongst a forever changing landscape,
The humid sun beams bright.
Across a river that once sparkled
like jewels in the light.
All around is utter congestion,
and outer city development drives on.
Like the Native fauna, I seek refuge,
Wondering where do I belong.
But it is only a shell,
a facade of what’s true.
The blind eye turned,
to suit a more cleaner view.
The cracked concrete and tarmac I stroll,
Cover up secrets of a misinterpreted past.
While the trees that surround us,
Reminds me nothing gold can last.
Now covered by steel empires,
constrained to a new way of life.
Whispers draw me to a quiet space,
far away from the chaos and strife.
A place that only the intuitive know,
Hidden beyond the tinfoil and stone.
Echoes a story now forgotten,
its remnants left to the unknown.
The smell of mist ignites the senses,
At ease I lay back, my mind drifting away.
Here is where I find solace,
in unity with the spirits and energies at play.
My memories fade back to my resting place,
A remedy that only home could have woven.
There my spirit awakens
to mirror a familiar melody never spoken.
And so the day passes,
like fragmented moments in time.
Capsulated in a memory,
for someone else to find.
Back home.
The Bogong congregate as evening sets in,
Along with the fireflies a sacred rite begins.
A dance of light, and smoke under the moon.
Captivated.
In silence, hoping it doesn’t end too soon.
Entranced.
I stare, a rarity to acquire.
As they hover by the fire with a heat of desire.
While amidst the parade I gaze through.
Camouflaged in the crevices of darkness.
You and only you.
For so long you’ve been hiding
waiting for the new.
For a world that doesn’t decimate
the Utopia you grew.
The time has come to rise.
rise from behind your disguise.
New creatures of the night,
break on through.
Embark upon that coming light.
Empowered by the magic around,
I pen the words that nature resounds.
You call out for me to join you under the moonlight.
Breathing, dancing, singing into the night.
Your words are soft, but I hear you say,
You belong. 
Belong, just as the Fireflies and Bogong.
Belong to be seen, heard and embraced.
Uniqueness can be found in every place.
In every seed grows a new beginning.
And with that wisdom we are constantly learning.
Every day, in every way, you’re always getting better.
I thanked You and I made my proclaim.
I AM a Wotjobaluk djin.
I come from the Wimmera
The earth reflects the colour of my skin.
Born with the river flowing deep through my veins
Although I am here, city bound.
Just as my ancestors, there is where my spirit will remain.
I’ll return to my home where my connections run.
A cycle like the Fireflies and Bogong.
Congregated around a fire hearing old stories
With the People I love and  where I feel strong.
DIMBOOLA.
My Grandparent’s country.
A one street town,
Incase you needed a summary.
Here I’m connected to everything around
The little desert, the bush even the animals that surround.
This is home.
MY paradise.
MY forever.
Together Family, Identity and Culture cannot be severed.
Our history runs river deep and mountain high.
And Family, you know.
United as one our spirit shall fly.
But for now, let’s get this event kicking on track.
Cause you know the mob be excited out back.
To cut a long story short, I was raised by Warriors,
Trailblazers and Storytellers in right.
Much like the artists here, to bring you what you see tonight…
A SOLID and STRONG legacy of Blak and Bright.
By Kathrine (Kat) Clarke (c)
Written for Blak and Bright 2016: Bogong Event, 
performed at the Bella Union, Carlton VIC, 21/02/2016.
For a copy of this poem just click the link below: