‘Kindred’ is the author’s debut collection of poetry. It is divided into three overarching themes – Mother, Earth Child and Lover. Within those themes the poems cover a wide range of topics although each one is related to the overarching theme.
The poetry is free verse form and is lyrical and musical. Many of the poems are quite short but deeply emotional. There are tributes to ancestors, to family members and to members of the Stolen Generations. Her work is deeply connected to culture and is often quite spiritual. Saunders is a keen observer and her word pictures are very evocative. Some of them recall and reflect on terrible events in the history of the interactions between white settlers and First Nations peoples. Nonetheless, there are flashes of humour in some of the poems.
Some poems such as Wirritjiribin have a special acknowledgement of where they were written – this one on Gundungurra Country – and contain words from the language of the traditional custodians of that Country. Wirritjiribin means lyrebird in Gundungurra and a further note to this poem tells us that the lyrebird is one of Kirli Saunders’s personal totems.
Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman and award-winning international writer of poetry, plays and picture books. She is a teacher, cultural consultant and artist. In 2020, Kirli was named the NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year. Kirli created ‘Poetry in First Languages’, delivered by Red Room Poetry. Her debut picture book ‘The Incredible Freedom Machines’ was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and CBCA notables. Her poetry collection, ‘Kindred’ was shortlisted for the ABIA 2020 Book Awards. In July 2019, Kirli Saunders was awarded the inaugural Daisy Utemorrah Award for her rhythmic junior verse-novel, 'Mother Speaks'.