A Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha woman from the South Australian and Northern Territory desert and now Adjunct Professor with the RMIT Writing and Publishing program, Cobby Eckermann’s work reflects her experience as part of the Stolen Generations.
Recognised as one of Australia’s most celebrated poets, she said she was first published while she was living in the desert.
“The world was pretty small, and yet it was bigger than I'd ever known because I'd met my family," she said.
“I wanted to replicate that for other people like myself, because there's so many thousands of people who share the same story - Stolen Generation adults who have connected or not connected, have connected and still feel disconnected, have connected and still struggle for those missing years.”
Cobby Eckermann talks of honouring “this terrible past” in her work but said it was also important to write about the fantastic resilience and hope that comes from the Aboriginal community: “The funny things, the funny moments, the things that define us, the resilience... the cleverness.”
The writer recently joined Astrid Edwards, Director of The Garret podcast, for a moving interview reflecting on her early work in the desert, finding inspiration and healing in an Italian castle, and the issue of Aboriginal literature on school curriculum.
She said it was a privilege that Year 12 programs in Australia were teaching some of her poetry but also believes it should be mandatory for every award-winning Aboriginal piece of literature to automatically go on to curriculum.
“The curriculum needs to be one of the first places that we can change this attitude of ‘second class citizen’ and ‘less intelligent’, and we have a responsibility to the young people in Australia that they should be reading literature," she said.