Hobo on the Roof

Jeanine Leane
Jeanine Leane is a wiradjuri woman from south- west New South Wales. She achieved a doctorate in literature and Aboriginal representation before long career in teaching secondary and tertiary levels.
Leane was born in Wagga Wagga in 1954. She was raised by her mother and was educated in Gundagai, Armidale and Canberra. During high school, she presented poems into literary journals and to her teacher who gave her advice. Leane’s poems were mainly based on political issues and her Aboriginal heritage. After high school she attended Australia’s National University for a degree in literature and Aboriginal Representation. Leane wrote most of her poems during this time while researching about the European settlement. After leaving university, she presented her first volume of poetry called ‘Dark Secrets After Dreaming: AD 1887-1961’ and this received the Scanlon Prize for a collection of indigenous poetry in 1985. Later the same year, Leane met Bradie Webb and shortly afterwards, they married. Bradie urged her on to write more poetry so while writing children’s books, she began to write poems. Her next manuscript, ‘Purple Threads’, won the David Unaipon award for unpublished indigenous works. She began to teach at universities in 1993 and during this period she initiated and developed the teaching of indigenous education under the sponsorship of the Australian Curriculum Studies Association. From then she continued to give lectures at universities and write poetry. She is currently studying literature written by Aboriginal poets such as herself.
Jeanine Leane- Dark Secrets
God made the little niggers
He made them in the night
He made them in a hurry
And forgot to paint them white

Everyday the golden haired, angel-faced,
Happy white children sang this song.
Amid chortling laughter and swirls of curls
They filed past the wire fence
That captured us.

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They keep us locked away like dark secrets.
Never hearing our cries,
Never.