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Sykes, Bobbi

Roberta (Bobbi) Sykes was born and grew up in Townsville. Formally educated to the age of fourteen, she worked at many jobs including waitressing, dishwashing, nursing and floor-scrubbing before moving to Sydney in 1971. She became a freelance journalist and was associated with a range of Black organisations across the nation. After years of self-education, and lecturing experience at various Australian universities, she completed a Masters degree and then her doctorate in education at Harvard University. While studying she won the Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry’s Peter B. Livingstone Fellowship Award (1983), and the Patricia Weickert Black Writers Award (Australia 1982). In 1994, she was the winner of the Australian Human Rights Medal. Bobbi Sykes works as a consultant and lecturer – to support her writing habit – and is a frequent international traveller, in demand for poetry readings and conference and lecture presentations. Her previous publications include MumShirl (1981), which has been translated and published in Italy; Incentive, Achievement and Community (1986); Black Majority (1989); Murwina: Australian Women of High Achievement (1993) and the three volume autobiography Snake Dreaming (1997-2000). Her earlier poetry book Love Poems and Other Revolutionary Actions (1988) has been translated and published in Germany. UQP published her second collection, Eclipse, in 1996.
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Picture of Eclipse
"Identities: Who am I?" Thus begins one of Bobbi's poems and perhaps this is a question which needed to be answered, for we remember her media images of the seventies when the struggle was new and hot and what we have now was won then. It is easy for Australia to forget its political heroes, to deny them a place in this here now country. Sportspeople fill our need for instant heroes and we forget those who ran other races. I have read the prose work of Dr Roberta Sykes and am now privileged to read the fights of Bobbi's Poetry. Mudrooroo from Foreword Dr Roberta Sykes was winner of the 1994 Australian Human Rights Medal. Eclipse gives voice to mothers, to daughters who do not know their fathers, to men who cannot know themselves ­ in a white world fraught with tensions. Bobbi Sykes's distinctive rhythm and tone, and her clarity of message vibrate off every page. Her staccato challenging style impacts like a splash of iced water ­ your skin tingles and your eyes open wide.


Love Poems And Other Revolutionary Ideas

Picture of Love Poems And Other Revolutionary Ideas
"An important and thought-provoking book. Bobbi Sykes is to be congratulated." Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) The impassioned voices here are many and diverse. Each carries the message "We are all people". This collection was first published in 1979. The issues it addresses - deaths in custody, prejudice, powerlessness, love, devotion and struggle - are just as urgent and important now as they ever were. "Angry and tender, defiant and almost despairing, but always courageous, these poems from a Black woman must be read. Bobbi Sykes is a rare and beautiful personality, one of those 'fighters and singers' whose voices and songs we are at last beginning to listen to. She and her compatriot writers are a new energising factor in the writing of the world." Judith Wright