Nardi Simpson on the relationship between reading and Country

As part our our recent national reading symposium, VOLUME, Australia Reads was thrilled to welcome Yuwaalaraay author and performer Nardi Simpson to deliver the opening keynote address.

In her address – delivered in speech and song – Nardi speaks about the relationship between reading and Country, describing the “entire continent” as “library, text, educator and artist.”

Simpson says: “We Yuwaalaraay are an aural people and our language has no word for reading. This does not mean we did not do it. We have continually read. And for a period that far predates the invention of the printing press. We read Country, read seasons, read tracks, read winds, we read relationships and middens, we read maps made by stars and trade routes and fires… And our reading is not done by eyes alone. It engages the entirety of our bodies- our spirit, our self and our mind.”

Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay storyteller from the NSW north west freshwater plains and is a musician, composer, performer, and novelist. In 2020 Song of the Crocodile was released with Hachette Australia and went on to win the 2021 ASAL Gold Medal and be long listed for the 2021 Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Awards. Currently working on her second novel, Nardi remains heavily involved in the sharing and strengthening of culture and art in both her Sydney and Yuwaalaraay communities.

Watch the full keynote now below, and find other recordings via the VOLUME webpage.