Poetry News

The New York Times Talks to Ali Cobby Eckermann on Eve of Windham-Campbell Festival

By Harriet Staff
Ali Cobby Eckermann

In a New York Times "Saturday Profile" that focuses on Australia, Charlotte Graham revisits Indigenous poet Ali Cobby Eckermann, who is stateside this week to receive the prestigious Windham-Campbell writing prize. Cobby Eckermann's family history is wrought, as she's part of what is now called "the stolen generation." More: 

The organizers of the Windham-Campbell Festival had been thoughtful and respectful of her work, she said. But she also wanted to use the spotlight to highlight the suffering of Native Americans, visiting some during her stay.

“The U.S. might be honoring my story, but they’re ignoring one at their back door,” she said.

Since her first collections of poetry were published in 2010, writing has brought Ms. Cobby Eckermann fellowships, literary festival appearances and the publication of seven books. But above all, she has treasured the sense of healing it has brought and the release of guilt she felt over the adoption of her son.

“An avalanche of creativity has built up inside me since meeting my mother and learning our family story,” she wrote in her memoir. “Whenever I complete an art piece, I feel a personal celebration in my heart. I feel dead chunks falling off my darkened soul.”

But she said most Indigenous Australians had not had the same chance to express themselves, with Aboriginal families scared to have arguments at home for fear of social services being called and their children being taken away.

“These are the insults we live with on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

Read on at the New York Times.


Originally Published: September 12th, 2017