Puncher & Wattmann
The Bulu Line
by Stuart Cooke
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George Dyuŋgayan was a powerful Nyigina lawman from the Roebuck Plains (east of Broome). Over the course of a life spanning much of the twentieth century, the spirit of his late father visited him in dreams and gave him the seventeen verses of the The Bulu Line. Full of magic and local history, the poems describe journeys with ancestors and spirit beings, encounters with rainbow serpents and ferocious storms, and explore the vast distances of the West Kimberley landscape.
A pioneering experiment in contemporary Australian literature, George Dyuŋgayan’s The Bulu Line is the translation of a richly textured oral poetry into printed form. Rather than reduce the songpoetry to short, static lines of verse, Stuart Cooke has assembled a series of startling multi-vocal texts that invite a plethora of never-ending readings. Just like Cooke, you can also become a translator, and contribute to the performance of the poetry. In this way, writes Cooke in the introduction, we “let the force of the Bulu keep rolling.”
This book showcases the complexity and power of one of the world’s oldest and greatest literary traditions, and provides testament to its remarkable capacity for ongoing evolution.
“I cannot over-emphasise the importance of this kind of work.”
—Stephen Muecke (from the Preface)
“Stuart Cooke’s translation and arrangement of George Dyuŋgayan’s The Bulu Line is a work of deep and subtle artistry. It brings a songline to readers as only a poet with strong connections to Aboriginal place and poetics can do.”
—Deborah Bird Rose