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Graham Akhurst

Academic, Author

Graham Akhurst is an Indigenous writer and academic from the Kokomini of northern Queensland. He is an expert in the critical study of Indigenous Australian literature and is a teacher of Creative Writing and Indigenous Australian Studies at University level. 

Where were you born?

I was born in Perth, Australia and have lived in Samoa, Singapore, Tilburg (Holland), New York City, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and currently Sydney.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve worked as a tree planter, a mattress salesman, behind the desk at a post office, stacking shelves at Woolworths, making security doors, unloading shipping containers, and as a musician and teacher at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts before finding my calling as a writer and academic at UTS in Sydney. 

What themes are recurring in your work?

My work looks at the multiple and varied experiences of Indigenous people in contemporary Australia. My debut novel Borderland explores Indigenous identity, fracking, and young people’s sense of place during a time of climate crisis.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I was honored to be the first Indigenous Australian recipient of the W.G. Walker Fulbright Award. This funded my study in America where I worked with Australian writer Peter Carey as my supervisor for a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction at Hunter College. Another big highlight for me was the publication of Borderland which took me seven years to write. 

Where have your works been published?

Borderland was published with UWAP. I have had short stories published in America with J Journal and Kweli Journal. I’ve had non-fiction published in Westerly, The American Australian Association, and Mascara Literary Review. I have had poetry published in Meanjin, Cordite, Verity La, ABR, Island Mag, and Fremantle Arts Press in Voices from the Intersection. 

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about Indigenous issues and hope to use my writing to shine a light on the complexities that Indigenous peoples face when living in a settler colonial state. I also love books! When I’m not working as an academic you’ll find me reading or listening to fiction.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I launched Borderland across the country when it was released and am booked in for many literary festivals. You may have also heard me on the radio talking about great new fiction!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I wrote Borderland for young Indigenous men to see themselves in a text, and I hope that many young readers may form an understanding of the complexities that young Indigenous people go through during adolescence. 

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