Co-winner: Cut up song

Run it for me Bub.

Run the song.

That song I cut up, the one the ladies sing.

Yes Gran. Again? You sure? You OK?

Yes Bub. Sure. I’m a bit cold.

Light the fire? Cup of tea?

Thanks Bub.

Crockery clatters.

Why’d you cut it up Gran, the song?

It was wrong. They got it all wrong. It was the wrong song.

You could then, it was going around. Nineteen seventy seven.

You could just cut things up. Rearrange the pieces.

Writers were doing it, like collage.

Line up the bits any way you like.

Juxtapose. Use judgement.

So I cut it up. Put it back together again.

You see things weren’t there before. Get something new.

Were you a scientist then Gran, an inventor?


No. They thought I was mad. But they gave me a grant.

One hundred and eight pieces.

I just threw them up in the air

again and again

until I got it right.

We won a prize. I was avant-garde.

Play it for me now Bub?

OK Gran.

You comfortable?

Yeah Bub.


Kindling takes.

Fire brightens.


A choir of spectral voices ululates

an incantation

from beyond.


us sing advance

us sing advance

let us

rich and rare strains then

let us

sing free

golden soil and wealth then

us sing advance in joyful strains

with courage

let us

combine joyful strains then

let us

history’s page then

let us

with hearts and hands then

boundless plains our land abounds

strains then

let us

rich and rare

us sing advance

us sing advance free with courage

let us

gifts of beauty in history’s page

let us

golden soil and wealth

of ours renowned of all

boundless plains to share then

let us

combine all combine

in joyful strains

in nature’s gifts in history’s page

us sing advance

every stage advance then

let us

(voices rise)

let us


us all combine then

us sing advance

us sing advance

us sing advance

all combine with courage

let us


Choir stops.

Fire cracks.

Sparks fly.




Gran sleeps.


Gran dreams?


Us sing advance?

Cut up song.



Image: ‘Collage-062’ / flickr

Andrew Booth

Born in Sydney, Indigenous writer Andrew Booth has had a diverse senior executive career in the public sector. Subsequently he freelanced as a government adviser in Australia and then in the South Pacific where, in a case of mistaken identity, he was once shot at. He took up writing full time in 2012 and won the Queensland Literary Awards 2015 David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer with his first book, an experimental novel, The First Octoroon or Report of an Experimental Child which will be published by University of Queensland Press in 2017. Andrew spends his time reading, writing and fishing.

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