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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following may contain images, story and voices of deceased, by and about persons. Discretion advised.

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Kerry Reed-Gilbert

23 July 2021 // Kerry Reed-Gilbert

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Kerry Reed-Gilbert (24 October 1956 – 13 July 2019) was a Wiradjuri poet, author, collector, editor, educator, a champion of Indigenous writers and an Aboriginal rights activist.

She was born on 24 October 1956 in central New South Wales. Orphaned at three months old when her father Kevin Gilbert murdered her mother Gomah Gilbert (née Scott), she was raised by her father's sister who Reed-Gilbert called 'Mummy', and she became the youngest of eight children.

Reed-Gilbert wrote poetry and prose and was actively involved in writers groups and publishing the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Maori writers. Her poetry was translated into Dutch, French, Bengali and Korean. Reed-Gilbert edited a number of anthologies of poetry and prose.

She edited, published and been published in numerous books and publications, including Talkin’ About Country: Poetry Collection (Kuracca); The Strength of Us as Women: Black Women Speak (ed.; Ginninderra Press); Our Place: Stories about Good Practice in Youth Work with Young Aboriginal People(ed. with Shane Brown; South Sydney Youth Services); Message Stick: Contemporary Aboriginal Writing (ed.; IAD Press); Ngunnunggula (Belonging to Here): Stories and Poems (ed.; FreeXpression); and Black Woman Black Life(Wakefield Press).

In 2003 she was awarded an International Residence from ATSIAB to attend Art Omi, New York, USA; and in 1997 she toured South Africa performing in ‘ECHOES’ a national tour of the spoken word.


In 2005 she toured Aotearoa New Zealand as part of the Honouring Words 3rd International Indigenous Authors Celebration Tour.

In 2006 she received an ‘Outstanding Achievement in Poetry’ award and ‘Poet of Merit’ Award from the International Society of Poets.

She was the inaugural Chairperson of the First Nations Australians Writers Network (FNAWN). In 2013 she co-edited a collection of works with the US Mob Writing (UMW) group ‘By Close of Business’, and was co-editor for the Ora Nui journal, a collaborative collection between First Nations Australia writers and Maori writers.

Reed-Gilbert collected Aboriginalia, a variety of prints, figurines, plates, ashtrays, badges, and velvet paintings of Aboriginal people or featuring Aboriginal motifs. In 2016 this collection was acquired by AIATSIS.

2003: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board fellowship for poetry and writing at Omi International Arts Center in New York.

2006: ‘Outstanding Achievement in Poetry’ and ‘Poet of Merit’ Award from the International Society of Poets.

She passed on the morning of 13 July after her battle with a long illness. Reed-Gilbert is survived by her two daughters, Lesa and Melanie, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.

In 2020 the Kuracca Prize for Australian Literature was created

by Overland literary journal in memory of Reed-Gilbert.

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