With its rich selection from each of Sarah Holland-Batt’s books of poetry up to her Stella prize-winning collection The Jaguar (2022), this volume will introduce one of Australia’s best-known and widely read poets to many readers for the first time.
Marked by her distinctive lyric intensity, metaphorical dexterity and linguistic mastery, Holland-Batt’s cosmopolitan poems engage with questions of loss and extinction, violence and erasure. From haunted post-colonial landscapes in Australia to brutal animal hierarchies in the cloud forests of Nicaragua to the devastations and transfigurations of her father’s long illness, Holland-Batt fearlessly probes the body’s animal endurance, appetites and metamorphoses, and our human place within the natural order of things.
Her poetry is charged with a fierce intelligence, and an insistence on seeing the world with exacting clarity—as well as a startling capacity to transform our understandings of the familiar through the imaginative act. The poet’s piercing gaze is also frequently turned inward, offering a dissection of the self that is by turns playful and sharply ironic.
The Jaguar: Selected Poems brings together the finest work from her debut volume Aria (2008), with its minimalistic interrogations of the tyrannies of memory; the searching external and internal landscapes of The Hazards (2015); and the fierce, unflinching elegies of The Jaguar (2022), which challenge us to view ruthless witness as a form of love. As John Kinsella has said, 'Holland-Batt is one of the best poets writing not only in Australia but anywhere in the world in English. This is an art of necessity, of belief, and of artisan-like commitment.'
Praise for The Jaguar:
‘The Jaguar is a tour de force. It will leave you dazzled and devastated. The wisdom, kindness and musical rigour of these poems is everywhere apparent. Their emotional range is considerable: intimate, sorrowing, celebratory and philosophical by turn. Holland-Batt possesses a mighty and singular talent, showcased here in all its glory.’ – Michelle de Kretser
‘Considering Holland-Batt’s technical nuance (her unpredictable harmonics, intense wordplay, neologisms, synesthetic sensual registries, double analogies), her book’s resonant emotional force, and its insistent internationality, what is there to say about The Jaguar that doesn’t begin with “extraordinary".' – Forrest Gander
‘A remarkable sequence about the death of the author’s father from Parkinson’s Disease: tender, memorable poems that capture grief and loss and love through unforgettable imagery, often blended with humour… Lyrical and wise, this is a book from a poet at the height of her powers.’ – 2023 Stella Prize citation
‘In The Jaguar
, Sarah Holland-Batt writes about death as tenderly as we’ve ever read about birth… This is a book that cuts through to the core of what it means to descend into frailty, old age, and death. It unflinchingly observes the complex emotions of caring for loved ones, contending with our own mortality and above all – continuing to live.’ – Alice Pung, OAM
Praise for The Hazards:
‘By turns gorgeous and gut-wrenching, worldly yet intimate, Holland-Batt's The Hazards explores love and landscape from “O California” to Queensland, Boston Common to Sicily. These “postcards from another life” chart an inner travelogue, a new century in all its strange beauty. No one writes love poems like she does.’ – Kevin Young
‘What a powerful and insightful interpreter of the world Holland-Batt is. She pins down the urgent and competing forces of suffering and sentience, legacy and loss.’ – Judith Beveridge
‘Holland-Batt is such a masterful writer and, formally and linguistically, her poems are so exquisite and so elegant that the dark undercurrent that animates so many of them can often go unnoticed until it’s far too late. And suddenly, you’re in deep and fast-moving water and have no idea exactly how you got there.’ – Fiona Wright
‘The Hazards is a thrilling psycho-geographical evocation of physical and internal landscapes. It brims with the threat of annihilation and the promise of home… Holland-Batt's stark and sumptuous lyricism is indelible.’ – Australian Book Review
Australia & New Zealand: Click here to order from UQP
Ireland & EU: Click here to order from Books Upstairs in Dublin
USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org