Interview – Ali Cobby Eckermann on her poem ‘Trance’

When I wrote this poem
I was spending a lot of time reflecting of the past and that’s the reference to trance. I wanted to sit quietly with memory, not the modern day. I wanted to
honour the love of our old people who were labelled heathens and dirty and
useless, and flora and fauna, not even human. That the love that they held for
each other in this vibrant culture as they walked across this country they
knew the country through the soles of their feet, not GPS or Google
Maps. And so when life begins to change, I think it’s a natural reaction that you
might want to go back to your fondest memories, and in this poem she remembers
her happiest times was when she was married before her husband died. I just
want to block out the world and sit in a trance to remember that love and what it
felt like. When I introduce myself I said I was a
dreamer and I’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming so very reflectful back to
my process. I think as a poet it’s a healthy thing to do to take the time to
sit quietly to listen to your own body and nature around you, to sit in those
memories. I think our memories hold a lot of
wisdom for our future. Pituri is a bush tobacco that grows in
the desert regions of Australia where my traditional family live. The traditional women are very fond of pituri so I see that used everyday and
just included it in my poem because if she’s using pituri for me that
identifies her without any other words that she’s a traditional woman. It’s just a description of how I see women sitting on country, sitting, thinking,
relaxing, remembering.

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