The New Dreamtime : Kath Walker in Australian Literature


It is now eight years since the first book by Kath Walker caused a stir in Australian literary circles; and she has recently published her fourth volume, a collection of short stories for children, Stradbroke Dreamtime. According to her publishers, she has become the best-selling Australian poet after C. J. Dennis. It seems an appropriate time, therefore, to consider whether she is likely to achieve a lasting place in Australian literature. The first Australian Aborigine [sic] to publish a book could be confident of good sales and plenty of publicity regardless of the quality or appeal of the writing. But while no one is ever likely to hail Kath Walker as a great writer, at least on the strength of her work to date, it is unfair to dismiss her as purely an interesting sociological phenomenon. Her work has created an impact on the Australian reading public, and she deserves at least enough attention for one question to be explored: Has she contributed anything distinctively Aboriginal to Australian literature?

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Published 1 May 1973 in Volume 6 No. 1. Subjects: Aboriginal Australians - Literary portrayal, Aboriginal literature, Aboriginal religion & stories, Critical reception, Literary career, Poetic techniques, Writer's recognition & popularity, Oodgeroo Noonuccal.

Cite as: Doobov, Ruth. ‘The New Dreamtime : Kath Walker in Australian Literature.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 1973, doi: 10.20314/als.2a13390a6c.