2024 Stella Prize Longlist: Reflections
Ali Cobby Eckermann

What I learnt

The 2024 Stella Prize longlisted author, Ali Cobby Eckermann, delivers a heartfelt response to the question “What did you discover when writing She is the Earth?”

She is the Earth is my regeneration from a seven-year hiatus from publishing. These were not wasted years. This was an essential lull to reconsider my vulnerability within the loudness of this modern world, whilst pining for the core concepts of my Yankunytjatjara desert culture. One of my deepest loves is the desert; it holds such beauty and I am both blessed and humbled in its midst.

She is the Earth is also born from the knowledge of challenging and difficult times. These lessons belong to the cycle and nature of life. Often there is happiness and hurt, mirth and misery, a juxtaposition of wealth and want. My culture teaches to honour every emotional state. This is enriching and time-consuming. Time is both ancient and current, intertwined in these verses.

Storytelling is a cultural gift and the essence of my identity. Poetry is my gift of gratitude to those who have gone before.

She is the Earth

She is the Earth is also a celebration of personal freedom. As a grandmother I spend more time in the garden growing food and studying birdlife. It is comforting to reaffirm that all country in Australia is Aboriginal land. Every location I visit holds a glimpse of beauty. It is the seeing that is the key. I can see this beauty inside my grandsons. I pray they see this beauty inside me.

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