KIN explores how kinship, our understandings of who we are and where we come from, engages with dynamic senses of Country and belonging to Country. Country is storied, we are storied and kinship is nurtured and sustained by living and emergent stories about place and belonging. As Kaya Ortiz teaches us in ‘Naming ceremony’:
i am the long finger of country pricked with a needle to get to the blood where the stories live
The collection of stories within the issue recognise Country as a holder of knowledge, stories and memories about how we are interconnected. They trace how we have become kindred to Country and cultures. They account for diverse and complex understandings of kinship which collide, converge and unsettle.
Weaving together the stories within the collection, we listen deeply to a heartfelt yarn about navigating senses of place and belonging which patterns the mosaic of our global homelands. The yarn is unbound, artfully criss-crossing boundaries of homelands, generations and histories. It relocates the intimate, the domestic, and the ordinary from the periphery of cultural resonance to its centre. It asks the reader to reflect on fleeting moments of time, which hold living and beating histories of love, loss and yearning, and to feel their reverberations within our own chests. In ‘Mami Wata’, N’Gadie Roberts writes of such emotions:
dwelling in the crevices of my memory
The collection is imbued with a melancholic yearning to return to lost homelands, as well as a vivid agency of thought and expression to return in the words on the page. It impresses on us the significance of storytelling to give voice to desire, recognising and accounting for loss on the one hand, and hope and imagination on the other, to renew and rematriate our cultural life ways, and enliven self-determined futures.
The yarn about senses of place and belonging is grounded by First Nations understandings of kin. In the collection of First Nations writing within the issue, Country is kin. In ‘Yamaji Kin Songline’, Charmaine Papertalk Green reflects that:
I am kin to the old people now sand grains My barefoot lifting their spirits into my being
Country is living. In ‘Rivers’, Yeena Kirkbright writes of Country:
Three rivers run in my blood, where my mother takes me home
Country is sovereign, expressed in Samuel Wagan Watson’s powerful repetition of ‘I will not be moved’ … in ‘A Scorched Earth’.
The collection of stories within the issue move in time to an intimate rhythm of shared humanity. They teach us about an instinctive longing for home, family, kin and a sense of belonging in an ever-changing world. It has been a privilege and joy to guest edit KIN. I have been deeply moved by the daring vulnerability and honesty of the writers, and the creativity and experimentation within their writing practices. I would like to thank all of the writers who submitted their writing for the issue and generously shared their stories with Cordite Poetry Review.