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Lionel Fogarty (1958 – )

Lionel Fogarty, photographer unknown Lionel Fogarty, photographer unknown

Lionel George Fogarty was born in 1958 at Barambah, now known as Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve, in the South Burnett region of southern Queensland. He attended Cherbourg State School, and until ninth grade, Murgon High School. Fogarty has stated that his introduction to poetry was not at school but came through his interaction with Murri people in Cherbourg and Murgon. After leaving school he had several casual jobs, before leaving for Brisbane at the age of sixteen.

Since the 1970s he has been active in many of the political struggles of the Aboriginal people, particularly in southern Queensland, from the Land Rights movement, to setting up Aboriginal health and legal services, to the issue of black deaths in custody – Fogarty’s own brother, Daniel, died in police custody in 1993. His first collection of poetry, Kargun, was published in 1980, and he has gone on to publish eight further collections, as well as a children’s book, Booyooburra, a traditional Wakka Wakka story. Fogarty has also travelled widely in the United States and Europe, reading from his work and participating in conferences of Indigenous peoples. An unabashedly political poet, Fogarty’s poetry employs Aboriginal English in innovative ways, challenging readers to reconfigure cultural assumptions. He is a poet who has opened up the new space of black Australian post-surrealist writing and done much to reformulate our understanding of poetic discourse and its roles in both black and white communities.

Poetry Collections
  • Kargun (Brisbane: Cheryl Buchanan, 1980).
  • Yoogum Yoogum (Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin, 1982).
  • Kudjela (Spring Hill, Qld: Planet Press, 1983).
  • Ngutji (Spring Hill, Qld.: Cheryl Buchanan, 1984).
  • Jagera (Coominya, Qld: Cheryl Buchanan, 1990).
  • New and Selected Poems: Munaldjali, Mutuerjaraera (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1995).
  • Minyung Woolah Binnung: What Saying Says (Southport, Qld: Keeaira Press, 2004).
  • Dha’gun Jabree Djan Mitti (Cambridge: Salt Publishing, 2007).
  • Yerrabilela Jimbelung: Poems about Family and Friends (Southport, Qld: Keeaira Press, 2008).
Suggested Further Reading
  • Lionel Fogarty, ‘Introduction,’ Minyung Woolah Binnung: What Saying Says (Southport, Qld: Keeaira Press, 2004).
  • Sabina Hopfer, ‘Reading Lionel Fogarty: An Attempt to Feel into Texts Speaking of Decolonisation,’ Southerly 62.2 (2002): pp. 45–64.
  • Philip Mead, ‘Musgrave Park: Lionel Fogarty talks to Philip Mead,’ Republica 3 (1995): pp. 120–31.
  • Mudrooroo, ‘Guerilla Poetry: Lionel Fogarty’s Response to Language Genocide,’ Westerly 31.3 (1986): pp. 47–55.
  • Mudrooroo, Writing from the Fringe: A Study of Modern Aboriginal Literature (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1990).
  • Eleonore Wildburger, ‘Revolt and Reconcilliation: An Intercultural Reading of Lionel Fogarty’s “Guerilla Poetry”,’ in Agnes Toth and Bernard Hickey, eds., Reconciliations (Perth, WA: API Network, 2005), pp. 151–66.

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