Charmaine Papertalk Green: Poet, Artist, cultural creator and Indigenous affairs researcher shares knowledge

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Charmaine Papertalk Green is a Geraldton poet, artist and researcher.
Camera IconCharmaine Papertalk Green is a Geraldton poet, artist and researcher. Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardian

The theory of left-brained or right-brained doesn’t apply to everyone, some brains are lucky enough to be both analytical and creative.

Like a local poet, artist and researcher born in Eradu, raised in Mullewa and now living in Geraldton, who will soon release her fourth book in five years, who also listens to local issues and develops research to respond to real situations affecting the community.

Wajarri, Badimaya and Wilunyu woman of the Yamatji Nation Charmaine Papertalk Green lives three lives — she’s a creative, an academic and works closely with the community — sharing her cultural knowledge in many different spheres.

Green’s passion for land and culture shows through in her poetry, used as a base to fire her writing. Her recently completed work, Art Book was finalised about six weeks ago and sent to the publisher Magabala Books for print.

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Green said her latest book with John Kinsella was written in ekphrastic poetry, a form of writing describing artwork in vivid detail.

“I’m very excited about that book. We looked at paintings from the late Shane Pickett (one of the leading Noongar artists) and wrote about it,” she said.

“Some of the poems are probably the best poems I’ve ever written.

“You look at paintings and you respond to those paintings in poetry, and that’s what we’ve done with this whole book.”

Green also won the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry for her book Nganajungu Yagu.

An artist herself, Green also plays a large role in the Yamaji Art Centre, hosting dance workshops and working closely with overseas partners to create a cultural immersion Yamatji song and dance project.

As chair for Yamaji Art Centre, Green ensures the centre is the only one of its kind in the Mid West besides Northampton and Mount Magnet and runs the major 16th century opera project.

Green said the Yamaji Song and Dance project with FROLIC stemmed from her PhD and Yamaji Art’s partnership with Dr Steven Tingay at Curtin University as part of the SKA telescopes project in the Murchison.

Towards the end of her PhD of autoethnography, Green’s thesis question was ‘”how is cultural knowledge produced, transferred, transmission and exchanged in the Yamaji Region?” Her four year research will soon to be disseminated within her community.

Green researched how young Indigenous generations or others were being taught about Yamatji culture, and said she found that the learning could be expanded.

“We are teaching our transmission of culture really well in our own world, but there’s still a lot of fragmentation,” she said.

The 2009 Ilgarijiri “things belonging to the sky” was a project between Aboriginal artists and radio astronomers. Green said the language, song and dance opera was a project to celebrate the 10-year collaboration of Ilgarijiri.

“We were looking for a way to commemorate that,” she said.

“I love that I belong to Yamatji people. I don’t think I’d have been happy with any other race or group. We are very proud and powerful people and we have strong stories to tell about our country and our connection to country.

“Yamaji people still have very strong connections to country and culture, and that is our strength.”

As well as a creative, Green also has close ties with developing research projects and responding to issues in the community. Green is employed at WA Centre for Rural Health, listening to the needs of people to create reports examining the outcomes people want to see.

Responding to violence in the community, Green said she has worked with women in the Mullewa community for three years has started to collected voices from community members.

“I think that was a really significant and important outcome, and I want to thank the community that showed their strategy forward and a way forward,” she said.

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