Stan Grant at Books and Blokes
Posted on August 23, 2016
“In 1968 anthropologist Bill Stanner wrote about The Great Australian Silence; the forgetting of parts of our history on a national scale. And I began to ponder this idea. Why were our stories written out of Australian history? I wrote this book to free us of the Great Australian Silence and to give a voice to those who were voiceless.”
During Book Week St Joseph’s College welcomed Stan Grant as the Term 3 Books and Blokes guest speaker. This proved to be one of the most powerful Books and Blokes events, at times confronting, but also empowering, conveying a message of great importance and significance.
Stan spoke about his book Talking to My Country in which addresses ‘The Great Australian Silence’, the untold story of his ancestors, his childhood struggles and the struggles faced by his Indigenous ancestors. He spoke openly and honestly about the mass murders of Indigenous communities, of Poison Waterhole Creek and about the personal struggles endured by his family. He told of growing up itinerant, poor and black, and about his parents constantly moving from town to town to chase work, leading to him having attended 13 different schools by the time he was 12-years-old.
Stan also spoke of the incredible privilege it has been to be able to have sent his three boys to Joeys, a school that provides opportunities for so many indigenous boys to share their culture and ancestral stories and, in doing so, help shape the way all Joe boys view their country.
At each Books and Blokes event the special guest speaks about books and reading. Stan recalled his love of books as a child formed a buffer against his sporadic school years. He said he was able to read before he started school and would read whatever he could find from libraries and second-hand shops. He devoured great writers such as Twain, Steinbeck, Dickens and Hemingway, but it was the book Go tell it on the mountain by James Baldwin that changed his life. He felt a strong connection to Baldwin’s characters, of children born in secret, of women banished to die in shame and discovered through his writing that being black – being Aboriginal – was intensely political.