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Leni Shilton

“The Milky Way” by Old Codger Jim is licensed under CC BY 2.0 


Voices rise in the dust

women are dancing, painted up.

Sparks rise, fly into the night,

more stars for the Milky Way.

Singing is felt in your chest

an echo, rolling over and over.

Then someone calls to you

to sit here on the dirt

and you do,

you sit and listen and cry.

 Inma – Pitjantjatjara for dance, ceremony.

Inma – Pitjantjatjara for dance,ceremony.

Translated into Yolŋu Matha

by Brenda Muthamuluwuy 

Rirrakay ga marritji garramatkurr,

 buṯṯhun marritji ganu.

Miyalkurruwurr ga giritjirri gamunuŋgumirr wo gapaṉmirr

Ṉilnil marritji buṯthun garramatkurr

Munhay marritji gama ga dhukarr marrtji buma,

 bulu ganynuw mala , badurrumirriyirr marritji

ḏarṯaryun ga dhäkay-ŋäma nhokal gumurŋur, ŋäthi ga

rirrakay ŋurrkam marritji .

Yolŋu dhu wäthun nhuŋu, ga nhina dhiyal munhathaŋur.

Bala nhe dhu nhina, ŋama ga ŋäthin milkarriyna.

About the Poet

Leni Shilton is a poet and educator. She grew up in Papua New Guinea and Melbourne and lived in Mparntwe | Alice Springs for many years. She has written two verse novels: Malcolm (2019 UWAP) and Walking with camels (2018 UWAP), the winner of the 2020 Chief Ministers Fiction Book Award. Her writing regularly appears in anthologies and journals including APJ, Cordite, Plumwood Mountain Overland and The Best Australian Poetry 2022. Leni won the 2022 Inaugural Born Writers Award. She now lives in central Victoria where she is working on her third book.

About the Translator

Brenda Muthamuluwuy (Mutha) is a Yolŋu Gupapuyŋu woman originally comes from Galiwin’ku community (Elcho Island) in north east arnhemland, ancestrally from Ḻuŋgutja (Hardy Island)  lived and worked in Darwin.

Her current position at Charles Darwin University on Larrakia county is a full-time lecturer teaching Indigenous Yolngu language and culture. 

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