“In telling this tale, we were informed by two sets of stories that are the inheritance of Aboriginal peoples. The first set are stories of our homelands, families, cultures; the stories that speak to the connections which sustain us and which we sustain in turn. The second set are the tales that entered our worlds with colonization; stories of the violence that was terrifyingly chaotic or even more terrifyingly organized on a systemic scale. Both sets of stories inform our existences, and thus our storytelling.”(Kwaymullina 191)
Catching Teller Crow is a novel about a grieving father, Michael Teller, that can see the ghost of his daughter Beth. Michael Teller is a police detective and was sent to investigate a murder in a rural Australian town. During the investigation Beth notices another ghost following them and befriends her. And as it turns out, the girl, called Catching, is the key to solving the murder and uncovering the town’s secret.
The novel deals with many different topics such as grief, trauma, and relationships. It is clear from the first page that Beth is worried about her father as he does not deal with well with Beth and her mother’s respective deaths. If we were to see the ghost of someone close to us, we would probably assume that we are losing our mind or that it is a manifestation of our grief. But for Aboriginal people this would not be that strange. Some Aboriginal people believe that humans go through different stages of existence (cf. Books+Publishing). Similarly, that everything is connected is part of Aboriginal systems (cf. Kwaymillina 2013, 4). So seeing a ghost would not be that strange as they are just souls at another part of existence. And because everything is related, Beth’s and Catching’s stories are related even across time.
Beth and Catching tell their stories in different ways. Beth ‘talks’ in prose. Catching in verse. According to the authors, Beth’s voice is like a river ‘sometimes fast and sometimes slow, but always saying a lot’ and Catching’s voice is like ‘the beat of the rain, sometimes steady and sometimes sharp and uneven. She says little, but every word has weight.’ (Wyld). Even though both stories have a lot to say about the two girls, Catching’s verse makes her story feel more important- and it’s not just the words either. The historical implications behind her story, the being taken by strangers, being talked about as if she isn’t there, the fear, makes it feel real.
Let’s now talk about Crow, the last girl mentioned in the title of the novel. Crow is and remains a mystery in the novel, but her being a crow tells us a lot. Crows are most known to represent good or bad omens- even death. But those black birds are also known for their intelligence and adaptability. They can also be a sign for transformation and the future. And maybe this is all true for Catching Teller Crow as in the end of the novel (the chapter called ‘The Beginning’) all three girls turn to crows.
“We bathed in the clouds and sang in the sun and let the world paint our souls and our souls paint the world. And wherever we went, we went together.”(Kwaymullina 190)
Books+Publishing. “Reaching out: Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymillina on ‘Catchin Teller Crow’”. https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2018/07/05/110945/re aching-out-ambelin-and-ezekiel-kwaymullina-on-catching-teller-crow/. Accessed Feb. 19, 2023.
Kwaymullina, A., B. Kwaymullina, and L. Butterly. “Living Texts: A Perspective on Published Sources, Indigenous Research Methodologies and Indigenous Worldviews”. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 1-13, doi:10.5204/ijcis.v6i1.106.
Kwaymullina, Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. Catching Teller Crow. Penguin Books, 2019