Unemployed Aboriginal poet Ali Cobby Eckermann just won the $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize and she "pretty much just cried," she told The Guardian.
Living in a caravan in South Australia with her elderly adoptive mother, Eckermann won one of the world's richest literary prizes.
"It's going to change my life completely," she told The Guardian.
Nominations for the prize are confidential and the judging process is completely anonymous.
"I'm fascinated that they even knew about me," the female author told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Eckermann has published a novel in verse, a memoir, and several poetry collections. She is one of eight to win this year's prize.
With two winners in four categories, Eckermann shares the prize for poetry with Carolyn Forché. The two women are recognized as the first poets to win the Windham-Campbell Prize, which was established in 2013.
"Through song and story," the judges write in their citation, "Ali Cobby Eckermann confronts the violent history of Australia's Stolen Generations and gives language to unspoken lineages of trauma and loss."
A member of the Stolen Generation, Eckermann is an Aboriginal child who was taken forcibly from her mother and family by the Australian government, and only found her biological mother when she was in her 30s.
She hopes the prize money will allow for more family reunions. She tells The Guardian that the award is "honouring my family's story, and the three generations of us that didn't grow up together."
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