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First Nations Lyric Nonfiction


A ground-breaking essay collection that shifts the shape of what First Nations writing can be and do in Australia today.


Shapeshifting, co-edited by Jeanine Leane and Ellen van Neerven, is a wide-ranging collection of nonfiction by First Nations writers that breaks new ground. These lyric essays push the boundaries of nonfiction beyond the biographical or the academic, with pieces that experiment with form and embark on carefully crafting and re-crafting interventions that both challenge and expand existing genre structures.

Shapeshifting brings to the fore a whole new genre waiting to take shape, to be formed, informed and re-formed by First Nations Australian writers. Contributors include Charmaine Papertalk Green, Jim Everett, Jenni Martiniello, Natalie Harkin, Mykaela Saunders, Daniel Browning, Evelyn Araluen, Alison Whittaker, Rhianna Patrick, Melanie Saward, Timmah Ball and Hugo Comisari.

Jeanine Leane
Photo by South East Arts

Jeanine Leane

Jeanine Leane is a Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic from south-west New South Wales. Her first volume of poetry, Dark Secrets After Dreaming: A.D. 1887–1961, won the Scanlon Prize for Indigenous Poetry, and her first novel, Purple Threads, won the David Unaipon Award. Jeanine has published widely in the area of Aboriginal literature, writing otherness and creative nonfiction. Jeanine was the recipient of the University of Canberra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Poetry Prize, and she has won the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Prize for Poetry twice. In 2023 she won the David Harold Tribe Award for Poetry, Australia's richest poetry prize.. She has been the recipient of a Red Room Poetry Fellowship and two Australian Research Council (ARC) Fellowships. Jeanine taught Creative Writing and Aboriginal Literature for many years at the University of Melbourne, where she is currently First Nations Writer in Residence.

In 2023 she won the David Harold Tribe Award for Poetry.

Photo credit: Anna Jacobson

Ellen van Neerven

Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning writer of Mununjali Yugambeh and Dutch heritage. Ellen’s first book, Heat and Light, was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers’ Prize. They are the author of two poetry collections: Comfort Food, which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize; and Throat, which won the Kenneth Slessor Prize, the Multicultural NSW Award and Book of the Year in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.