The Hazards by Sarah Holland-Batt
About the author
Sarah Holland-Batt is the recipient of the WG Walker Memorial Fulbright Scholarship, Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships, and an Australia Council Literature Residency at the BR Whiting Studio in Rome, among other honours. Her first book, Aria (UQP, 2008), won a number of literary awards. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from New York University, and First Class Honours in Literature and a Master of Philosophy in English from the University of Queensland. She is presently a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Queensland University of Technology. The Hazards is her second collection of poetry.
About the book
Charged with fierce imagination and swift lyricism, Holland-Batt’s cosmopolitan poems reflect a predatory world rife with hazards both real and imagined. Opening with a vision of a leveret’s agonising death by myxomatosis and closing with a lover disappearing into dangerous waters, this collection careens through diverse geographical territory—from haunted post-colonial landscapes in Australia to brutal animal hierarchies in the cloud forests of Nicaragua. Engaging everywhere with questions of violence and loss, erasure and extinction, The Hazards inhabits unsettling terrain, unafraid to veer straight into turbulence.
University of Queensland Press
Sarah Holland-Batt, in The Hazards, writes about birds and animals and plants in closely focused detail. Many of her poems also respond to paintings and other artworks. The settings she depicts range over the world like a travel brochure. Yet the strength of her writing is not in its content, or its choice of subject matter, but in the rich texture of the language she uses to express ideas one might otherwise find unremarkable. She describes a toucan in the Costa Rican jungle, “in the macheted ferns and quashed nests,/ the dark tribunal of the trees”. The densely-packed echoing consonants suggest the atmosphere of a particular scene with sensual effect. Holland-Batt is a poet with as much feeling for the sound of words as she has for imaginative metaphor and simile. Portraying a vulture, she writes “his flawed throat/ makes nightmare music: a feline hiss,/ the monstrous grunt of sex, all of it hatched/ by a mind without pitch/ brought keeling down to perch/ at the swell of rot and bloat”. The internal rhyme convinces us that her writing has been elevated to the highest level of accomplishment, far above any of her previous achievements.