Writers from the Boundless festival choose the author who has most inspired their writing and reading

Nana, crowned with afro, op shop jumpers and sandalled with thick woolly socks the size of sheep, told me it was important to only speak of love when talking with God — even if we were just at home in Mt Druitt. We would pray and sing Fka’feta’i ki a Sihova, he ‘oku lelei ia in the living room to portraits of Jesus, a man with blond hair.

Feminist, author and social activist, bell hooks, speaks like my nana in her book, All About Love: New Visions. bell hooks writes that we are not static in love; we are always on our way to knowing love — a love that is a tool for effective justice, not a submissive act of turning the other cheek. Nana found the spirit of loving in God and the angels. ‘They tell us paradise is our home and love our true destiny,’ she would say.

bell hooks

When I read bell hooks’ theories about how loving is a process of healing that creates ‘honesty’, ‘openness’ and ‘insightful dialogue’, I cannot resent my nana for finding communications of loving and healing in a religion that colonised us. As bell hooks says, ‘Only love can heal the wounds of the past.’

With the current threat of nuclear war, neo-liberal Nazis and the repeating cycle of colonialism, I hear bell hooks inside my head everyday: ‘Knowing love or the hope of knowing love is the anchor that keeps us from falling.’

Winnie Dunn is a Tongan-Australian writer from Mt Druitt. She is a manager and editor at Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement. She has been published in The Lifted Brow, The Sydney Review of Books and The Big Black Thing.