National Library of Australia podcast

Tracking Charlotte: In Conversation with Judith Crispin

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“For generations my family wanted to conceal their Aboriginal roots. Our darker complexions, I was told, harkened back to Spanish sailor shipwrecked near Scotland, or invading Moors…The lie was only a few generations back, but it took me almost twenty years to uncover”. Dr Judith Crispin, the 2020 Honorary National Library Creative Arts Fellow for Australian Writing, shares her journey to uncover the truth about her ancestry, and the Hidden Generations. Join us as Judith reveals how she came to write an imaginary biography in honour of her Grandfather’s Grandmother, Charlotte, informed only by entries in a ledger, a single photo, and the drawings of Charlotte’s countryman, artist Tommy McRae. Dr Judith Crispin is a poet and visual artist with a background in music. She has two published poetry collections, The Myrrh-Bearers (Sydney: Puncher & Wattmann, 2015) and The Lumen Seed (New York: Daylight Books, 2017). Judith founded the poetry reading series at Manning Clark House and is currently poetry editor for The Canberra Times. Much of Judith’s writing is centered around the experience of searching for her Bpangerang ancestry, and her long-term friendship with Warlpiri people.

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