Sapphire Coast poet and performer Meaghan Holt was a mixture of elated and surprised to have been offered a mentorship by award-winning Indigenous poet and director of the Aboriginal Writers Retreat, Ali Cobby Eckerman.
“It’s all a bit surreal,” said Meaghan. “I never would have expected this so early on in my performance journey – I feel like my ancestors have brought Ali and I together.”
The poets first met in 2017 during South East Arts’ Giiyong Aboriginal Writers Forum at Jigamy, Eden. Unaware of the power of her own work, Meaghan pushed herself to share her poetry in a workshop led by Ali.
“Ali inspired me, it was the first time I had shared my writing publicly, I felt the connection between us straight away.”
In 2018 at the inaugural Giiyong Festival, Ali was in the audience when Meaghan made her debut performance under the title of Sassi Nuyum. The soul bearing spoken word piece received an emotive standing ovation.
The connections between the emerging poet and her mentor are strong. Ali has been an inspiring role model for Meaghan. Both writers delve into themes of what Meaghan has labelled #realtalk.
“Although our work is different there are definite similarities- we both speak straight from the heart, our real life experiences, the truth. Some subjects are seen as taboo but it’s the truth- it’s what our people are faced with. The time of suppression is over.”
The annual mentorship is offered to an unpublished Aboriginal poet who Ali believes writes poetry that has the capacity to heal.
Meaghan said she uses writing as a tool for healing and hopes that through her words she will be able to encourage others to realise their own potential and self worth.
“Writing has been a healing tool for me, I have chosen some broken paths, writing has been a saviour. Through my writing I will be able to gift back to the lands and its people that have embraced me.”
The Aboriginal Writers Retreat is a small Aboriginal literature initiative. First established at the old General Store in Koolunga on Ngadjuri country in mid-north South Australia, the AWR is now a library and writing space inside a caravan,which can move around the country.
The mentorship aims to give guidance, skills and insights into literature and healing practices.
Unsure of when she will embark on her journey to begin her mentorship to be held in South Australia, Meaghan said she was looking forward to giving it a “crack”.
“It’s a big step for me-but I am ready to give it a go.”