Ali Cobby Eckermann’s collection of poems, Inside My Mother, is one of three titles shortlisted for the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing. The winner of the $20,000 award will be announced on 7 September, coinciding with Indigenous Literacy Day.

Of Inside My Mother, the judges said:

Inside my Mother is a haunting and evocative piece of writing from an extraordinarily gifted poet. Ali Cobby Eckermann has produced a deeply personal set of poetic moments, which are both inventive and classical. A raw and honest collection cut from bitter experience, Inside My Mother sometimes reads like a verse novel – except these moments might be ripped from the pages of another person’s life.

There is great empathy in these poems. The title suggests a primal longing for the mother, who is embodied in the birth trees that populate the country of the poet’s mind. Those birth trees, like the surreal dream birds, are both witness and sentinel to generations of mothers and daughters. There is nothing anaesthetic about these poems; they are brutal and affirming in their truth.’

To read more about the shortlist, visit the Wheeler Centre website.