There is a well-known Māori proverb: Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au. Translated, it means “I am the river, the river is me”. For the Māori of Aotearoa, rivers are roads, supermarkets, home. The proverb can also be applied to fluidity and continuity; a recognition that change is part of being human.
I Am The River, The River Is Me is also the title the Melbourne/Naarm-based singer-songwriter Jen Cloher has given to their fifth album. It was an album born of intense upheaval: breaking up with former partner Courtney Barnett in 2018 led to the dissolution of their band, while the pandemic gave them time to think and reflect about who they were.
Cloher now officially identifies as non-binary, with the pronouns they/she. On their last album, Cloher wrote a song called Strong Woman, a homage to their matrilineal line: “Proud my mother wanted respect more than love / and her mother taught her that she could want for more,” the lyrics declare.
“I’m very happily ‘she’, and I’m ‘she’ as I acknowledge the incredible line of women that I come through,” Cloher says. “I will always keep ‘she’ in my identification because of the honour and the great responsibility that I carry coming through that bloodline of extraordinary people.”… Read more..