Ali Cobby Eckermann

Poetry

2017

Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal Australian

Through song and story, Ali Cobby Eckermann confronts the violent history of Australia's Stolen Generations and gives language to unspoken lineages of trauma and loss.

Ali Cobby Eckermann is an Aboriginal poet and visual artist from South Australia who has published and performed her work around the world. Her debut collection of poetry, Little Bit Long Time, was published in 2009 as part of the New Poets Series of the Australian Poetry Centre. Since then, she has produced a substantial and formally innovative body of work, including the award-winning 2015 collection Inside My Mother. Eckermann has described Inside My Mother as an “emotional timeline” of the Stolen Generations, the thousands of children of indigenous descent—among them Eckermann herself, as well as her mother and son—taken from their families by the Australian government. In his review of the collection, David McCooey praises Eckermann’s use of nature to render the beauty of Aboriginal family bonds, as well as the pain and violence of their breaking: “[For Eckermann] family is a broad but vital network involving both the living and dead, and, importantly, their interrelatedness with the environment… . sun, moon, sky, birds, trees, sand, water, shells …  [play] as central a part as the human figures.” Eckermann’s other books include the prose memoir Too Afraid to Cry (2013), which was awarded a Tangkanungku Pintyanthi Fellowship, and the verse novel Ruby Moonlight (2012), which was named the New South Wales Book of the Year and also won the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. In addition to her work as a writer, Eckermann is also the founder of Australia’s first Aboriginal writers retreat, and has edited a special issue of the journal Southerly on Aboriginal writing.

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I was 34 when I finally found my mother. Four years later my son was returned to me (he was 18). My family taught us culture and I healed through poetry. An award of this magnitude will continue the healing for many of us.
Ali Cobby Eckermann