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Ali Cobby Eckermann wins 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize

Fri, Mar 17, 2017

Ali Cobby Eckermann

Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha woman and Magabala author of Ruby Moonlight (2012), Ali Cobby Eckermann has won the 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize, being one of two writers to receive the inuaugural prize for poetry.

The prize is administered by Yale University in the US and it's awarded to eight writers to the value of $US165,000. It is an unusual prize in that recipients are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously.

"It seemed unbelievable," Ali told BBC News about receiving news of the award. "There have been so many tears of disbelief and tears of gratitude that my work is recognised. Now I just want to write and write and write! I've got a few more things to say."

Magabala Publisher, Rachel Bin Salleh said that Ali's work powerfully articulates Australian Indigenous peoples' experience of colonisation and the trauma suffered by the Stolen Generations.

"Her work is deeply personal but also speaks to a collective experience," she said.

"Ali is one of the most significant writers in Australia and Magabala Books is very honoured to have been part of her journey. She has inspired and mentored many emerging Indigenous writers and poets in Australia. Not only does it prove that, with time, true talent will be recognised, but also there is a place for Australian Indigenous stories on the world stage."

In his review of Ali's collection, poet and academic, Professor David McCooey praised her 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.”

Magabala Books' Board and staff extend our congratulations to Ali, who will officially accept her prize at an event hosted by Yale in September.