Write-up on our special Guest Speaker, Aunty Bea Ballangarry, by Karolyn Gibson
Today I listened to a story. Aunty Bea Ballangarry quietly entered the room and when it was time, she spoke to the group with soft eyes and warm heart. It was free flowing in delivery, setting the scene and travelling through time building on each experience until we began to see the colours of her life developing through pictures in our own mind. This, to me was a special moment. I felt the empowering circle around our space in that moment. The story telling was offered by a very inspiring woman. There was no need to ask, because the moment was a sharing in conversation by all, including listening and understanding, having a voice and being heard. Aunty Bea spoke about her childhood, growing up, becoming a wife and mother, a grandmother and Gumbaynggirr Elder. Aunty Bea wrote her story in poetry, her book ‘Birth of my Woman’, takes the reader along in sometimes gentle and sometimes more solid and determined steps. As we turn the pages we feel the shadows, the rain, can hear happier times and feel the pain, but the reader meets the woman within the words. Sometimes you feel her head is lowered, then you feel her breath as she becomes whole again. During her talk she explained how her life experiences, with the support of her parents, gave her opportunities to learn what was important, how to find strength and ability to create the path toward a better future and she continues to follow that path today with respect and open arms to many friends and family. Her experiences gave her a voice and gave her the strength to write. As Aunty Bea explained, it takes a lot of courage and belief in self to tell your story. Then one day you hold it in your hand and it is yours to offer.
Thank you Aunty Bea, I have met a new friend.
Highly awarded Aunty Bea Ballangarry is our next guest speaker, 5th July
When Coffs Harbour Writers’ Group Publicity/Social Secretary, Karolyn Gibson, met Aunty Bea Ballangarry, the first thing she noticed was her personal strength that carried through an incredibly undemanding, yet confident, soft and gentle voice. Karolyn said “Aunty Bea made it easy for me to relax and enjoy the moment, to just be within the moment, and in the time we were sharing, yet still take in and be aware of ‘with appreciation’ our surroundings”.
Karolyn agrees with Marion May Campbell, who wrote in her book’s forward, for the ‘Birth of My Woman’, she experienced the idea of centeredness throughout the many poems that make up the ‘Birth of My Woman.’ This is something Marion can also relate to Aunty Bea as a person, through her radiance, poise and soft voice. After meeting Aunty Bea, Karolyn could definitely understand and agree with this analogy.
A natural ability for teaching, Aunty Bea communicates with feeling, and is able to portray the beauty while explaining the pain. Aunty Bea has a healthy sense of humour that beautifully balances, without undermining the serious side of life.
The poems bring experiences, spirituality, artistry and strong beliefs of the environment into the words as they come alive and create a visual encounter for the reader.
Aunty Bea Ballangarry is a Gumbaynggirr Elder, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, a carer and a friend to many who tells her story through the poetry. She is resident Elder at North Farm and has hosted Story Circles. Aunty Bea is a local published poet. Some of her awards include: in 2011 the Jack Iggluden Award for Indigenous Writing, 2008 Citizen of the Year – for achievement of Community Development, 2007 Grace Roberts Award for Community Development, 2006 awarded the Order of Australia and also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Aunty Bea Ballangarry is very well known and respected and continues to have a very busy schedule in the public arena.
Meetings are held at CeX Club, Coffs Harbour at 10.30am on the first Thursday of the month