Where the River Rises: A River of Words


This project forms one layer of a palimpsest of works I am creating on the Cooks River traversing its geography, history, and community through explorations of real and imagined ecologies through its stories.


A big thank you to all the poets who made the work such a success. The audio of the voices gradually pans from left to right.

Here are some snippets:

A slow trickle is all it takes to start, the slow wearing away of the channels of a heart made weary with the turmoil of remembrance, past. …

The river banks widen, and I feel pride when, I look back not with sorrow or regret at the river’s passing but towards a tomorrow where I won’t forget that the river’s course is everlasting, and I know in my heart through strength of will that while the current departs, the river, still, it flows on.BILAL HAFDA

2014-11-14 16.06.00I hear the sigh of the river drifting faintly.

Beyond the highlands of Yagoona.

I watch the river drops open their eyes,

and angels descend so the hunger may be fed. ABDULLAH NOMAN


Tiptoed around the rivers wrist.

2014-11-14 17.27.29Out stretched ripples like hands waiting to hold.

He told me that you never step into the same river twice.

Throw rocks into the black ink.

Watch them sink.

Making tidal waves around our ankles. GLORIA DEMILLO


Because I loved you … with the urgency of the river that clambours over rocks sand valleys to rush  penitently to the sea, with the love that rebirthed the spring foliage and then scattered the leaves in an autumn breeze to places they would lie untouched for all time. SARA MANSOUR


Navigating the space between Dryness and wetness in emptiness I skim lonely stones on the Lacunae of a Lagoons lament. …

Truth, I realise, is the tentative touch of the

Surface  the bubbling and rippling

DSC_0690And the trembling,

Bending the structure to allow

For your Curvature,

And not the other way around.

It is bigger than me and so

It becomes me. NATALIE POWPOV


We’re down by the Cooks River and it’s late, past midnight, and we sit in the shadows listening to the humming of the insects. …

The night river is a loose web of interconnected sounds. Creatures ripple the water and twitch the grass. …DSC_0689

In the river the machine settles into the mud, beside the bicycle frames and wheelie bins and traffic cones, the low-tide ghosts. VANESSA BERRY


My home was once a pleasant place of cool waters and fresh grasses.

We ibises lived there since Gondwana land cracked and foundered apart from Pangea. …

Then the water in our ponds started dying up, the grasses browned and died.

The eggs did not hatch. We died in numbers we cannot count.

Like stars in the sky, our bones littered the dry bare earth. …

Those of us with strength took flight, following the winds until we found refuge in the filthy concrete banked river where the once the Gadigal people fished, their children splashing in the shadows. …

We, former gods in another dry land, you now revile as vermin.  …

We live off the detritus of your lives. …DSC_0720

We have adapted. Just like you.

We are your mirror. LOU STEER


The consciousness of this once fine stream

now polluted in the minds

DSC_0730of the suburban tribes through which she winds,

and in reality…

her waters trickle amongst their waste,

no hunter would bend down for a taste

and the Currawongs have flown away.

Willows wallow in her sorrow;

concreted, covered, converted

into an urban drain,2014-11-15 16.34.16

as does not befit her Indigenous or European names.

Ravaged for decades and awash with shame,

stripped of her beauty, we are to blame,

But the tail of many creatures regenerate,

…and so too will the tail of Gamay. JONATHON DAVIS


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