Teela Reid is a Wiradjuri & Wailwan woman, lawyer and storyteller. She is the co-founder of @blackfulla_bookclub, a platform that honours First Nations Ancestors as the original Storytellers. She is the inaugural First Nations Lawyer in Residence at Sydney Law School and an advocate for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
In the lead-up to this year's Festival, Teela sat down with us to talk about the importance of First Nations storytelling, the influence these stories can have on the future and her curated events.
1. This year's Festival theme is Stories For The Future. What prompted or motivated you as you were thinking about the sessions you've curated with Artistic Director Ann Mossop?
I wanted to honour the fact that First Nation's people are the original storytellers, and that we tell stories in different ways that disrupt western notions of the written word. Our stories are not just in books, they are within us and passed down orally in First Nations communities through our own lines of authority.
2. What influence do you think books and authors can have on shaping the future?
The framing of this question is precisely why understanding the provenance of First Nations storytelling is crucial to decolonising literature spaces and writers' festivals.
Books are a privilege, to read and write in the western form is a privilege. These spaces haven't always been accessible to First Nations people, so I think when creating space for stories of the future, society needs to embrace storytelling in all its forms. Look beyond books – some of our greatest storytellers are First Nations Elders, many of them have not written a book in their life but they can tell a story better than any writer.
"...understanding the provenance of First Nations storytelling is crucial to decolonising literature spaces and writers' festivals."
3. What books are currently on your nightstand?
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, Twisted Hate by Ana Huang and After Story by Larissa Behrendt.
And I just noticed they are all written by women!
Teela's Curated and Recommended Events
Sky Stories: How First Nations People Intricately Mapped the Stars for Millennia
Sky Stories has to be my most anticipated event! I am constantly in awe of how First Nations people intricately mapped the sky through storytelling. We really are the first astronomers!
Stan Grant: The Queen is Dead
I think this is going to be a provocative discussion.
Reckoning, not Reconciliation
Stan Grant joins me in conversation in Reckoning, not Reconciliation! I can't wait to see you all there to discuss the Voice to Parliament, Makarrata and the people's movement!