Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Maureen Watson, poet and storyteller, passes

I have been asked by her grand-daughter, my friend Kaiyu Bayles, to post the following to my blogs and social networks.

I myself only met Kaiyu's grandmother once, briefly, at a writers' festival in the eighties, but her poetry, her passion and her compassion were memorable! She is a loss to the nation.

Celebrate the life of Granny Mook/Aunty Maureen Watson

Vale Aunty Maureen Watson/Granny Mook,
Blessed this earth from 9/11/1931 - 4/1/2009
“honorable ancestor...’

"We want to make the world a better place, that's the bottom line I guess, we want to make the world a better place, for my children, for his children, her children, your children, we want to make the world a better place." Aunty Maureen Watson, Brisbane, 5 February 1998

Funeral Service:
12.30pm Monday 12 January
Murri School, cnr Beaudesert & Mortimer Rds, Acacia Ridge
For more information contact Tiga Bayles on 3892 0100

Aunty Maureen Watson was a storyteller, poet, singer, actor and political activist, highly regarded for her stories which told of Aboriginal culture and experiences within urban Australia.

Born in Rockhampton in 1931, Aunty Maureen was a proud Birri Gubba and Kungalu woman who left school at the age of 13 and at 21 married Harold Bayles to have five sons.

She later returned to her education, eventually moving to Brisbane in 1970 to begin an arts degree at the University of Queensland in 1970.

In 1981 she moved to Sydney, where she set up the Aboriginal People's Gallery in Redfern and was a driving force behind the development of Indigenous broadcasting in Sydney community radio.

Aunty Maureen was at the forefront of the Aboriginal protests against the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982, and was arrested three times while participating in demonstrations.

Her first collection of stories and poems, 'Black Reflections', was published in 1982 and she subsequently produced six more poetry anthologies, one children's book and one picture book.

She performed in many plays and films including Fringe Dwellers and in 1986 Jack Davis' play, The Honey Spot, in its tour of Victoria and New South Wales.

Her gift for storytelling helped her to travel widely across Australia, New Zealand and Europe to give presentations.

Over a number of years she worked with Sisters Inside, a support group for women in prison.

In 1996 Aunty Maureen was awarded the Australia Council Red Ochre award for her outstanding national and international contribution towards recognition of Aboriginal arts, and was the first winner of the United Nations Association Global Leadership Prize for her outstanding work towards achieving cross-cultural understanding and harmony.

Aunty Maureen continued to work as an active leader and highly respected elder in Brisbane for the next ten years or so before suffering a stroke and spending her remaining days on Stradbroke Island, close to some of her 24 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

She will be greatly missed.

For more information contact Tiga Bayles on 3892 0100 or 0429 871 989

A family-approved photograph of Aunty Maureen can be accessed at Portraits of Australian Aborigines, 1981-1984 / photographed by Penny Tweedie

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