We Are Going by Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Aboriginal Epos, Australian History, Universal Poetry

by Francesca Di Blasio

The first collection of poetry by an Aboriginal author, Oodgeroo Noonuccal,
was published in 1964 by Jacaranda Press. We Are Going embodies key features
of Aboriginal literature and can be interpreted as an Aboriginal epos as
well as a document in Australian history. Individual stories often painfully
interface with the macro-history of white policies towards Indigenous people.
This poetical remembering of a recent and traumatic past becomes a form of
recovery from trauma itself, since Oodgeroo’s poetics preserve the memory
of a much older past, the one of pre-invasion Indigenous culture. This paper
aims at analysing Oodgeroo’s poems in this perspective, by focussing on both
their epical and historical features, while keeping in mind their specificity as
artistic, literary, and poetic texts. The experience of translating We Are Going
for its first Italian edition (Oodgeroo 2013) has been greatly instrumental in
coming to terms with the richness and significance of the poems.