Ali Cobby Eckermann has won the Windham–Campbell prize (for poetry) instituted by Yale University. Combining poetry and prose, we are proud to have published her brave and powerful memoir Too Afraid to Cry—at once “a chokehold and a chockfull of breath” as Meena Kandasamy introduces it. While we didn’t need this award to know she is a great writer, in a country where dalit poets are easily browbeaten into silence at public events, such institutional recognition makes us glad.
In Ali’s own words—
As a writer you are free to write whatever you want, but as an Aboriginal writer my concerns are different. There needs to be a legacy for my children, I need to create something for younger Aboriginal writers. And that’s the difference of privilege…. Poetry, as always, is a way of healing. We’ve been conquering English ever since the English people came here. It is a poetry of protest—to use language with ‘their English’. When I first picked up Language, I used only nouns, it was then I realized how important the act of naming was, and the kind of violence-in-language we have been subjected to for years.