Return to Dust by Dani Powell

Sale price$27.00
198mm x 128mm
April 1, 2020
UWA Publishing
Number of Pages
In stock

I am calling her Amber because amber is my favourite stone. In truth, it is not a stone at all. Technically, it is fossilised tree resin that has withstood all kinds of weather and woe, the likes of which would normally cause sap to disintegrate. Amber resists decay.

I am calling her Amber to give her something precious. To remind her of what the world has to offer. She knew this once, more keenly than most. But she has forgotten. I am hoping to remind her that the world's beauty isn't gone. That beauty exists inside things, sometimes trapped, often obscured.

When Amber returns to her home in the Australian desert one year after her brother's death, her hope is to move on from her grief, to start again. Invited to do some work in a remote Aboriginal community, she relishes the opportunity to return to country she loves so deeply. She hadn't realised her friend Andrew had a reason to ask her to come back.

She begins a three-day road trip on unsealed roads that link a constellation of Aboriginal communities. From the outset, it is as if she has been picked up willy willy on a windless day, and must be carried to the end of it -until the wind decides to drop. During this adventure, her composure is undone by a series of encounters, observations, the country itself, and she learns that grief takes its own time.

Told like memoir, spun like myth, this is a philosophical tale about coming to terms with the death of a loved one. About our way of dealing with death, and the offerings of another culture. It is about home, and how this is found in people as much as place.

Stranded between landscape and metaphor, searching for traction in the rituals of the western desert, a woman excavates memory and the archaeological evidence of an ancient catastrophe to come to terms with the death of her brother. Return to Dust is a haunting and poetic meditation on grief and the omnipresence of death in life.

Kim Mahood

Dani Powell


Dani Powell

Dani Powell is a writer and performance-maker, who grew up in
Brisbane and has lived in Mparntwe/ Alice Springs since 1999. Her short
stories and poetry have been published in several literary journals and anthologies and her poem Sketch of this Day won the Poetry Prize in the NT Literary Awards in
2009. Her outdoor, location-based performances have been produced in
and around Alice Springs since 1999, with her company red shoes. Her
performance Under Today – traces of Eastside, Mparntwe, Alice Springs was redeveloped for Radio National in 2015.

Dani was formerly Community Producer of Big hART’s Ngapartji
Ngapartji project and currently works with senior Pitjantjatjara and
Nyaanyatjarra women and ngangkari on NPY Women’s Council’s ‘Uti Kulintjaku’ project. Dani directs the NT Writers’ Festival in Alice Springs. Return to Dust is her first full-length work of fiction.

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