Biography of Ali Eckermann
Ali Cobby Eckermann is an up and coming poet, and lives in Koolunga, South Australia. She identifies with the Yankunytjatjara / Kokatha from the north west desert country of South Australia Ali was born in 1963 on Kaurna country, at Brighton in Adelaide, within the confines of the Cate Cox Baby Home. Through adoption she was raised on Ngadjeri country, with the Eckermann family, on a farm property at Hart. She was educated at Brinkworth Area School and Clare High School, in the mid north of South Australia. Growing up in an environment devoid of Aboriginal friendship and influence was difficult. My journey to search for truth began when I was 17 years old, when I ran away to the desert regions of central Australia. I worked as a cook, cleaner, camel catcher and 'check out chick' at Yuendumu before following more stable avenues of employment. In my mid thirties I found my birth mother Audrey, and four years later I found my only child Jonnie. The reunions with my Yankunytjatjara / Kokatha Aboriginal family were my happiest and best years; meeting my family saved my life.
Today Ali continues to spend time with her traditional family in the southern central desert regions of SA and NT, to learn and to heal. She has also retained loving relationships with her adopted family, especially her adopted siblings and Mum Frieda.
After nearly 30 years in the NT Ali’s journey returned her to Ngadjeri country, where she is restoring the 130 year old general store in Koolunga, to establish an Aboriginal Writers Retreat.
This is my haven from the world, where I am provided the sanctuary and security to write and share my life with friends and family.
Ali was a guest of Sydney Writers Festival 2010, and she has featured on Radio National's Poetica program. Her 27-poem monograph Little Bit Long Time was published in 2009 by the Australian Poetry Centre in their New Poets Series.
Ali Eckermann's Works:
Kami, Vagabond Press, Rare Objects Series, Sydney, 2010
little bit long time, New Poets Series, Australian Poetry Centre, Melbourne, 2010
My Fathers Eyes, Laguna Bay Educational Press, 2011
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Ali Eckermann Poems
She gives him a cloud of parrots He expects her to peel the carrots She gives him a safari cruise He expects her to hide the bruise
Ayers Rock / Uluru
old Mr Uluru a proud man the day the Rock was handed back
There is no life but Family. When I am young
Sit down sorry camp Might be one week Might be long long time
When john howard said let’s have an intervention the women shouted yes!
You call it 3 bedroom house I call it big lotta trouble You call it electricity
1 they’re here now the Guardians sitting on a rock
First Time (I Met My Grandmother)
Sit down in the dirt and brush away the flies Sit down in the dirt and avoid the many eyes I never done no wrong to you, so why you look at me?
My friend was at the A & E, he wasn’t feeling good I was at the barbecue, just like he said I should. The phone call from the hospital shocks me with fear and fright – ‘You better come to ICU, he might not make it through the night.’
in an aisle of middens he blocks her advance
(in memory of my friend) hey kungka you want husband yet? the old man sings out
‘See you’ I said to the children as I memorised their Anangu faces filled with laughter
One Child Two Child Wailing And Wild
Urgent darkness hunts us south, while my stomach churns with childbirth He waits.
Mallets pound fence posts in tune with the rifles to mask massacre sites Cattle will graze
My friend was at the A & E, he wasn’t feeling good
I was at the barbecue, just like he said I should.
The phone call from the hospital shocks me with fear and fright –
‘You better come to ICU, he might not make it through the night.’
I stand silent at his bedside, he looks so dead already,
I try comforting his children as their lives become unsteady.
‘Please don’t go away,’ I whisper. ‘Don’t leave us behind.’
I pray then to my Ancestors, I ask them for a sign.