She Is The Earth
Magabala Books, $27.99 pb, 91 pp
Ali Cobby Eckermann is an award-winning Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha poet and artist. In the words of Yugambeh writer Arlie Alizzi: ‘She Is the Earth is hypnotic, healing and transcendental.’
She Is the Earth is redolent of First Nations’ musicality, reminding us of Northeast Arnhem Land Yolngu song cycles and Central Australian Inma, but also of an Ancient Greek chorus, where women sing the epic tragedy. But is it a long poem, a collection of interrelated poems, or a verse novel? In Eckermann’s own words: ‘I know our struggle continues as First Nations people who are deprived of our true standing on our sacred land.’ Her poetry is a siren song.
Understanding the context of identity in the case of Eckermann’s work is essential to connect with her truth, that of her Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha heritage. Her identity sings from the pages of this work. That caravan home on the edge of a red desert is etched in our vision of her.