Writing on thresholds: Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Inside My Mother

Molly Murn


This paper considers the aesthetic and material concepts of the threshold as they figure in contemporary Australian poetry, and examines how the threshold can be a productive and generative space in Australian poetics. The metaphor of the threshold as a point of entry or beginning, place of transition, place of exit, rite of passage, or liminal space, speaks to the writer’s imagination as a location of potent creative power. It is here, on the threshold, that a writer gestates ideas, follows the call of the initial creative impulse, and brings her words forth to be shaped. During this (w)rite of passage something new is made. For a writer, being on the threshold is at once a place where she can thresh out ideas (receptive), and the site of creative acts (generative).
Yet the threshold is not only a metaphor for the creative process; it is a liminal space where certain kinds of knowledge can be sensed in passing. The word ‘liminal’ literally means “[to occupy] a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold” (OED). In an Australian postcolonial context, the threshold as a productive space in literature or art is particularly resonant because of the kinds of terrains that may be crossed and spoken across the threshold—the productive capacity of the middle ground.
This paper will discuss the poems of Inside My Mother (2015) by Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha South Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann that inhabit the threshold as both an unsettled and productive space in contemporary Australian postcolonial poetics. Writing on the threshold, Cobby Eckermann is engaged in reimagining such poetics


Ali Cobby Eckermann; poetics; threshold

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1344/co201824&25337-351


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