Windham-Campbell Prize Winner Ali Cobby Eckermann is releasing her newest book, Too Afraid To Cry: Memoir of a Stolen Childhood this month, and we want you to come to this FREE event to help celebrate this revelation of a book.
Some reviews about the book:
“This is an essential story, one everyone needs to hear.” —Joy Harjo, Mvskoke poet, musician, performer, and author of Crazy Brave
“Eckermann’s strength lies in her poetry, which illuminates themes of guilt, forgiveness, and the blurred lines of who and what defines home. . . . Eckermann’s story is . . . extremely relevant in light of current polarizing debates on immigration and belonging.” —Booklist
“Simple prose belies a heavy heart in this straightforward but subtly heartbreaking chronicle of trauma and tragedy. . . . A subdued memoir about shouldering pain, owning decisions, and finding a voice.” —Kirkus Reviews
About the book:
Between 1910 and 1970, nearly 100,000 indigenous children in Australia were forcibly taken from their communities to be raised by strangers. The emotional toll and the cultural damage it inflicted were immeasurable; but one of their rank has now given eloquent voice to these “stolen generations”: in TOO AFRAID TO CRY, prize-winning poet Ali Cobby Eckermann shares her own astonishing story of heartbreak and reunion.
In chapters alternating deftly between stinging poetry and blunt, unfettered prose, Eckermann—who was just awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize—recounts her early years growing up with her adoptive family in Hart, South Australia. Taken from her mother at birth (who was, in turn, taken from her mother at birth), Eckermann recalls traveling through childhood largely unaware of the fate she shared with her adopted siblings: each of them seized from their Indigenous families and redistributed among white families in a government policy of forceful assimilation.
They would come to be known, as Eckermann discovers much later, as the “stolen generation.”
But first Eckermann endures, at its best moments, a childhood fraught with displacement despite the efforts of her adoptive parents; she doesn’t feel at home with her German Lutheran family or with the Aboriginal children at school who always seem to be getting into trouble. And when she suffers episodes of sexual abuse that go unnoticed, these traumatic assaults settle into her psyche as an “icy wind,” stagnating her progress at school and birthing an anger nursed only by alcohol and drugs. At eighteen, pregnant and stuck in an abusive relationship, Eckermann agrees to put her son up for adoption, partaking in a cycle of which she only understood a glimmer.
Sixteen years later, Eckermann sought out her biological mother. In TOO AFRAID TO CRY she describes the faltering process of reverse assimilation, as aided by the generosity of her traditional family and the expression of poetry, with which Eckermann has made a career of revealing such neglected histories. In a recent interview with the New York Times (attached here), Eckermann notes of her experience: “I couldn’t speak the traditional language yet, but I had good eyes. I think it was from so many years of looking for my family.”
Perhaps it is no surprise that someone who has endured such pain at the cost of boundaries should approach form so fluidly. In simultaneous but disparate narratives, Eckermann illustrates the prosaic, brutal impressions of her youth, and the halting, lyrical reckoning of generational and personal grief. Through her eyes, so keenly trained in the art of seeking, readers are forced to assimilate with the shameful mistreatment of Aboriginal cultures and look toward a future of understanding and reconciliation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ali Cobby Eckermann is an award-winning author who has toured the United States several times, most recently in connection with Yale’s Windham-Campbell Prize. She lives in Adelaide, Australia.