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Bilya Kep Waangkiny

Bilya Kep Waangkiny
By Community Arts Network
10 February 2017

During the winter of 2017, CAN delivered a series of weekly evening workshops where community members gathered to write and share poetry, while enjoying a warming bowl of soup.

Facilitated by a diverse range of talented poets and performers including Alf Taylor, Jan Teagle Kapetas, Irma Woods and Maitland Schnaars, the workshops supported participants to experiment with different poetry styles to convey their stories, culminating in Bilya Kep Waangkiny (River Water Stories), a collection of powerful poems from the Avon River, the Wheatbelt and beyond.

An additional Sunday afternoon walking workshop led by poet Nandi Chinna and Noongar Elder and botanical specialist Yvonne Kickett, added further depth to the project.

The group shared their talents in a series of stirring poetry performances held at the 2017 York Festival, and the following year at the Quairading Town Hall and the Northam Link Theatre. Bringing together new and known poetic voices, the performances wove musings and deeply personal stories from the Avon River, the Wheatbelt and beyond into powerful spoken word. The poets were accompanied by live music from Ian Wilkes on didgeridoo with an orchestra trio from Perth Symphony Orchestra, Julia Watson on violin, Anna Sarcich on cello and Mark Turner on guitar.

Bilya Kep Waangkiny was remounted by six poets for two shows at the Denmark Festival of Voice. Directed and accompanied by Heath Bergersen on didgeridoo alongside musicians Melanie Robinson, Duncan Strachan and Rachael Aquilina, the poems of childhood, country, family, love and loss from Ballardong country resonated strongly with a new audience on Menang country. Poets included Deborah Moody, Alf Taylor, Janet Kickett, Yvonne Kickett, Daniel Hansen and Rosalie Quartermaine.

Subsequently, five poems and the story of the project were featured in esteemed journal Westerly 63.2.

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