Bron Bateman presents: Nadia Rhook on poetry, history, motherhood and privilege
In Nadia Rhook’s latest collection Second Fleet Baby she writes of the differences and similarities between motherhood in contemporary and convict times. Nadia says of herself and her ancestor Susannah Mortimer, ‘As white women we have in common that part of our desirability, or function in the colony, is to reproduce the settler population. And in her time that was very explicit … but I still felt that sense when I became pregnant.’ Nadia said she had to ask herself, ‘What am I doing? I’m also increasing the settler population on Indigenous land. What does that mean to be involved in that reproduction?’
After going through IVF, Nadia felt it was important to write about it. She said, ‘I was looking for representations that would give me perspective on it, that would give me strength or a way to make sense of my own experience. And, at the time I couldn’t find any … so I just began writing my own poems about IVF and pushing through what felt like a dark and lonely time … I needed a narrative.’ She hopes that people who need to be held a little bit more through the IVF experience may find some sense of connection in the poems.
This wonderful conversation also looks at how poetry and storytelling can be a truer articulation of history, and the awkwardness of narrating the past and present from a place of privilege.
- Maternal history and motherhood
- Empiricism vs imagination and the importance of imagination to really know and connect with the past
- IVF and privilege
- The Second Fleet
- Writing historical poetry
Second Fleet Baby is available in all good bookstores and online.
Books, authors and other stuff mentioned
Ada Limon, poet, https://www.adalimon.net/
Eileen Chong, poet, http://www.eileenchong.com.au/about/
Emeritus Professor Tom Griffiths, Australian National University
Greg Denig, historian (dec.)
Inga Glendenning, historian (dec.)
‘Settlers swim on Wadawarrung water Whadjuk water’ from Second Fleet Baby
The Lady Juliana, convict ship, https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/lady-juliana/1789
The White Possessive by Aileen Moreton-Robinson, https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/the-white-possessive
Toni Morrison says ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.’
Tracey Banivanua Mar, historian (dec.)
What we carry
About the host
Bron Bateman is a poet, academic and mother of nine. She is a researcher in Crip and Disability Studies at the University of Newcastle and her research interests include Crip and Disability Studies, Queer and Gender Theory, cultural studies, creative writing, Feminisms, and the body. Her first poetry collection, People from bones (with Kelly Pilgrim) was published by Ragged Raven Press (UK) in 2002. Her PhD, a collection of poetry and an exegesis, exploring female embodiment and experiences of motherhood, sexuality, mental health and volitional marking through tattooing, piercing and BDSM practices, was completed in 2012. Her second collection, Of Memory and Furniture, which was Highly Commended in the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry in 2021, was published by Fremantle Press in 2020. She has had her work published in collections and journals such as Westerly and Southerly, across Australia, the UK and the US and has performed her work at conferences, festivals and readings, locally, nationally and internationally. In 2004 she was awarded the Bobbie Cullen Memorial Prize for Creative Writing. In 2017 she received Columbia University’s Winter Poetry Prize and in 2022 she was shortlisted for the Tom Collins Poetry Prize. She lives with her wife and youngest daughter in Perth, Western Australia.
About the guest
Nadia Rhook is a non-Indigenous historian and poet, born in Naarm / Melbourne and currently living in Boorloo / Perth. She has a PhD in History from La Trobe University and lectures in History and Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia. Her poetry appears in various journals and anthologies including Cordite, Peril Magazine, Mascara Literary Review, Westerly, The Enchanting Versus Literary Review, Authora Australia, Twice Not Shy: one hundred short short stories (Night Parrot Press) and What We Carry: poetry on childbearing (Recent Work Press). Second Fleet Baby is her second poetry collection.
‘Letter to a Daughter of St George’, from the Meat Lunch E.P.: Songs from Floaters. Written by Alan Fyfe. Performed by Trevor Bentley (guitar and vocals – @trevormb) and Chris Parkinson (harmonica). Produced by Blake Carnaby of Nuglife studios with impresario work by Benjamin P. Newton.
Aidan D’Adhemar, Fremantle PA Hire
Claire Miller and the Fremantle Press Marketing and Communications team
This podcast was produced in Walyalap in Wadjak Boodja, on the lands of the Noongar people.