Launched by First Nations art and cultural event, YIRRAMBOI, Blak Bloggers is a space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to stay creative and connected during social isolation.

Blak Bloggers was born from Resilience in Isolation, an initiative which supports First Nations creatives in creating, developing or adapting new works by providing up to $1,000 in funding. These works may then be showcased at YIRRAMBOI Festival 2021.

The Blak Bloggers program sees artists’ works published online by YIRRAMBOI and paid for their contributions.

Submissions are now open and many have already been published, the most recent being from Melbourne-based Ngarrindjeri comedian, Kimberley Lovegrove.

Another featured artist is Wemba Wemba/Gunditjmara woman, Rosie Kalina. Kalina is also an Associate Producer at YIRRAMBOI.

“It kind of forced me to reflect on how I have been feeling. I don’t think I have really slowed down much, even though I have physically slowed down, I hadn’t really had an opportunity to think about how I was coping with this,” Kalina said about her Blak Bloggers submission.

“I was like ‘Why am I so okay with this? How am I dealing with it?’. Obviously, I am in a very privileged position, I am very grateful to still have my job and be able to work from home when a lot of people cannot.

“I really recognise that, but beyond that I’m not even itching to go out—I automatically knew what to do. Being able to write that, it helps me to be able to reflect on where I draw my strength from. I live in the city and I do get a bit homesick, particularly now because I can’t go back home. It was nice to reflect on that and to talk about back home and my family.”

The Associate Producer spoke to NIT about the development of the Blak Bloggers program.

“Obviously, we were all sent to work from home, and we would have never imagined this would be happening … we were so bewildered [and] not sure what to do,” Kalina said.

“They brought us together and said that we need to be giving blackfullas opportunities right now, opportunity to work from home and to be able to adapt to this very quickly and do what we can.

“It feels really good to be able to have mob contribute and have that space.”

Not only is YIRRAMBOI creating a platform for First Nations artists’ experiences to be heard during COVID-19, Blak Bloggers is an archive for generations to come to read about the lives of mob today.

“I think it is also tapping into how we’re going to immortalise our words using technology, which is rapidly changing, and the way we communicate with each other is ever changing as well because of technological development,” Kalina said.

“Being away from one another now in the face of the pandemic, I think it will be really interesting for us to look back on these submissions—obviously we are an oral culture, so the more opportunities and platforms that we get to be able to speak and write our experiences the better.

“It is so important to write as it happens.”

Submissions to Blak Bloggers is open to all First Nations artists and creatives across the country. YIRRAMBOI welcomes personal reflections, essays, poems, lyrics, short stories, fiction and many more forms of writing to the platform.

To learn more about Blak Bloggers or enquire about submissions, visit: https://yirramboi.net.au/programs/.

By Rachael Knowles