Mamu woman Lauren Appo created Books and Yarns, an Instagram book club dedicated to celebrating Blak’s excellence in the world of literature.
Originally from far north Queensland, the mother of two has strong ties to Goreng Goreng Country on her grandfather’s side and has made her home in Meanjin / Brisbane from high school.
“I have lived in Meanjin for a good part of my life, so I have a close connection here. My kids had their smoking ceremony here, so we have a very strong connection with the Meanjin, ”she said.
“But I’ll always call Far North Queensland home.”
A reader from the start of her life, Appo has found solace and support in the pages of books throughout her life.
“I was a big reader when I was younger. In elementary school I was devouring books and I got to high school and then it kind of faded away. I read the classic young adult books like you know Harry Potter and those are things, but I wasn’t really reading for a purpose, ”she says.
“That quiet you have when you read was lacking, so I really took the time to sit down and pick up books that I really liked and things that I wanted to learn more about.
“Reading has played a role in my life in all its aspects. When I needed things other than reading it was there, it grew with me.
Despite his love for literature, Appo struggled to find himself represented in the narratives.
“One of the things that was missing though was that I really didn’t see myself in the books I read,” she said.
“A lot of the stuff I read was really negative or perpetuated a stereotype. I didn’t want to keep paying attention to this story and I [sought]books that I thought I would picture to myself – I would post books that I read on my Instagram and Facebook.
“I found that so many people, mostly Aboriginal women, asked me questions about the books I read or asked for recommendations. This is really how [Books and Yarns] came to. “
Some of her all-time favorite songs include Harper Lee’s Kill a mockingbird, Maya angelou I know why the caged birds sing, Anthology of Anita Heiss Growing up Aboriginal in Australia and Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson Talk to the white woman.
Starting his Books and Yarns page earlier this year, Appo’s journey began with wanting to provide stories that show his children their power.
“Having children of my own, I try to remove that part of not seeing myself in the books and give my children all the books that represent them. They have so many books that are all run by aboriginals and all written by aboriginal people, ”she said.
“The book My house, my heartbeat by Briggs, my son can see it. There is a picture of a painted little boy and there is a picture of his smoking ceremony where he was painted and so every time he reads this book – he sees himself.
“It’s the notion that we’re worth it. These children need these books to know their lives are worth writing. “
Appo believes literature is just another branch of storytelling for the crowd.
“We’ve always been storytellers and we’ve always adapted to our environment and that’s what we did. We just took some literature, or we took the written word and just ran with it, ”she said.
“Now we have all these writers, poets, storytelling people, and they’re all available to us, but sometimes they don’t get the promotion they deserve and that’s why I started my page. “
With Blak’s love of literature growing, more and more of Blak’s book club Instagram pages are appearing – and adding to a network of love and support.
Appo found the brotherhood in the Instagram community, including Merinda Dutton and Teela Reid of Blackfulla Bookclub.
“It’s really about promoting our voice. We understand that the voices of Blak women have been kept silent for a very long time and oppressed, and now it is undeniably one of the voices driving our social change and our social impact, ”she said.
“I’m leaving learned that people want these types of books. Once you get it, stream it, people consume it, they buy it, share it, they want it. People want to be part of it.
“Books have a tremendous power to connect us to each other and show us that the possibilities are greater than ours.”
By Rachael Knowles