Hear Ali Cobby Eckermann at SWF

Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann is the author of seven books, including the verse novel Ruby Moonlight, the poetry collections Inside My Mother and the memoir Too Afraid to Cry. In 2017 she won the Windham-Campbell Prize, which Yale University awards annually for excellence in writing.

Are you looking forward to sharing your poetry with a Singapore audience?
Yes, it’s my first time to visit Singapore, and I’m super excited. It’s always an exciting privilege to share my poetry with new audiences. Also I hope to catch up with my poet friends Joshua Ip and Lawrence Ypil, who live in Singapore.

What do you plan to do here?
I’d like a few hours to explore the Singapore Airport. It sounds amazing!

How did you discover a love of writing poetry?
As a girl I loved books. I think it’s often the first signpost of a writer, to love reading. Often I preferred books to people. Books provided a comfort to me, an escape for my imagination in which I could envision a world I would prefer to dwell. When I began writing as an adult I wanted to rewrite the world as one filled with fairness and justice and equity for my Aboriginal people. Poetry allowed me to give voice to the voiceless and undermined, to reiterate the need for truth-telling, to promote the necessity of story-sharing, and for respecting the story of each individual.

What do you enjoy most about writing poetry?
Poetry has been an antidote to me, to build my self-worth as I unravel the story of my past. I love that poetry is not constrained. My heart enjoys the freedom from constraint. I don’t always push myself to write, as I also like to focus on other things; family, my wellbeing through swimming, art and sculpture.

How has being part of the stolen generation shaped your writing?
The long journey to find my family is imprinted on my life. The removal from my family by uncaring government policies and prejudices embedded in Australian society are stamped into my heart. I used to be an angry young woman. Slowly these pent-up emotions softened upon finding my mother (I was 34 years of age), and four years later finding my son (he was 18).

How did it feel to be the first indigenous Australian to receive the Windham-Campbell Prize?
At first it was so shocking. I couldn’t believe it and cried a lot. The prize money is a gift, as it allows me the freedom to visit family much more often, and to share adventures with them. It was a very special time to have my son and daughter accompany me to Yale for the event ceremony. It was an honour to share that experience with them, to build new memories for us. Personally my writing has gained a new confidence. I am enjoying exploring new genres of literature, and have begun to research and write my first novel.

Hear Ali at the
SWF at The Arts House!

Epic International Reading
Night II: Inside Looking Out:
10 Nov 8pm

Belonging Somewhere and Nowhere: 10 Nov 2:30pm

Navigating Emotional Pitfalls:
11 Nov 10:30am