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Debra Dank weaves childhood stories into 'honest' Gudanji tribute book

Rhiannon Clarke -
: We Come From This Place is an honest and rich tribute to the Gudanji people. Author Debra Dank, a Gudanji/Wakaja woman has reminisced about her life when writing the book, taking inspiration from stories she was told as a kid.  The book that wasn’t meant to be tells the narrative through episodes or short stories about country, family and Dank herself.  “There are short recounts of things that have I have experienced or things that have been related to me, It’s a bit of a patchwork of all sorts of stories,” Dank said. The book isn’t classified as an autobiography or memoir, as there are stories in the book that Danks covered when she wasn’t present.    “It’s me listening with careful ears to the stories that have been shared with me by others,” she said. The inspiration for the book came from the struggles the Gudanji people had when trying to access their country.  Dank was fearful for some time her children and grandchildren weren't going to have the ability to go home.  “I really wanted to ensure that things were recorded so that my kids had some of that at least," she said. “My kids were lucky to spend enough time on country with aunties and grandparents, my grannies, they may not be that lucky." Another motive Dank thought was important was to write down the stories her elders had shared, before they passed. With her family and the Gudanji history, she knew she wanted to record their perspectives  and experiences the right way.  “We are not often recorded the way we want to be recorded, and I thought I’ll do that," Dank said. The book is part of Dank's research into the theory and semiotics and used polyphony to help create the narrative of her book.  In literature polyphony is a feature of narratives which includes a diversity of point of views and voices. “The recount of the stories I have recorded in what is now the book, (are) based on the idea of polyphony,” she said.  "I was exploring how many voices contribute to that big story space, for Aboriginal family or communities." The title We Come With This Place has a truthful meaning behind it and when it comes to the theme, it hit the spot. "As Aboriginal people from remote communities and as Aboriginal people from across Australia we are connected to this country," Dank said. "We actually come with this place." Dank covered stories that were very personal to her and some were difficult to write, there were somethings she couldn't put on paper. However she didn't want to shy away from the real challenges and to spread awareness. "I really wanted to talk about the historical events that have impacted so many Aboriginal families that are still hard to talk about," she said. This is Dank's first book and she spent eight months writing it at home on her country, something that was truly special and important for her.


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   Rhiannon Clarke   

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