Fishing for Lightning: The Spark of Poetry (2021, UQP)
Fishing for Lightning gathers together acclaimed poet and critic Sarah Holland-Batt’s celebrated columns on contemporary Australian poetry, first published in The Weekend Australian. In fifty illuminating and lively short essays on fifty poets, Holland-Batt offers a masterclass in how to read and love poetry, opening up the music of language, form, and poetic technique in her casual and conversational yet deeply intelligent style. From the villanelle to the verse novel, the readymade and the remix to the sonnet, Holland-Batt’s essays range across the breadth of contemporary poetry, but also delve into the richness of poetic and literary history, connecting the contemporary to the ancient. Dazzling in its erudition, but always accessible and entertaining, Fishing for Lightning convinces us of the power of poetry to change our lives.
"So boldly insightful, so lightly done. For seasoned readers of poetry, an illuminating reminder of its techniques. And for those who may be afraid of it, clear, uncompromising readings that will take them back to its many pleasures." - David Malouf
"Sarah Holland-Batt is one of the most brilliant poets and critics writing today, and it is exhilarating to witness her mind at work in this rich and wondrous collection of essays. This is a book I will treasure and return to again and again.” - Emily Bitto
"Her engagement with poetry moves past the lines on the page – although she is brilliant, wise, humorous and empathetic on that level – to cross chronological, geographical and cultural borders and unite poets with each other, and their readers." - Stephen Romei
"A smart, sensible and generous guide to how poetry works under the hood... A container of multitudes!" - Geordie Williamson
Demonstrating the diversity, inventive brilliance and dynamism of our country’s finest poets, this collection features work from both rising stars and well-known figures, and presents a dazzling array of themes and styles. Whether addressing biotechnology or domestic violence, migrant experience or the natural world, the poems in this anthology are sure to inspire, provoke and move.
"Successfully representative of the best poems of the year, and indeed the variety of current Australian poetry: its moments of formal perfection; its adventurous failures; its ongoing attraction to sprawl; and yes – its playfulness." - Cordite
"Editor Sarah Holland-Batt acknowledges there is a dark tone running through her selections, which reflect a “vertiginous” year. In keeping with her fellow editors of essays and stories, Holland-Batt stresses it is the responsibility of the poet (or writer) to respond “powerfully to the dark events and anxieties of the time”. The collection is bookended by the late work of two major poets who have died recently: Martin Harrison’s liminal Patio at the beginning and Billy Marshall Stoneking’s One Last Poem at the end. In between are 103 poems that range widely in form and style, from the concrete poems of Toby Fitch and John Kinsella to the prose poems of Michael Brennan, Fiona Hile, Claire Potter and Ouyang Yu... Indigenous issues are also well represented: Black Deaths in Custody by Ali Cobby Eckermann, Royalty by Phillip Hall, about mines polluting traditional fishing grounds, and Learning Bundjalung on Tharawal by Evelyn Araluen, a bittersweet anthem to traditional languages and their rapid diminishment." - The Australian
For The Best Australian Poems 2017, award-winning poet and critic Sarah Holland-Batt has assembled a brilliant set of voices, styles and moods. Subjects include everything from a plague of bogong moths invading Parliament House to the after-effects of the nuclear tests at Maralinga. In their wit and empathy, their solace and provocation, these poems will stay with the reader long after the moment of reading.
Poets include Clive James, Pam Brown, Antigone Kefala, Fiona Wright, Robert Adamson, Jaya Savige, Jennifer Harrison, Fay Zwicky, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Jennifer Maiden, Philip Salom, John Kinsella, Lisa Gorton, Barry Hill, Todd Turner, Geoff Page, Maria Takolander, Judith Beveridge, Alan Wearne, John Upton, Julie Chevalier, Lucy Dougan, Jennifer Compton, Ken Bolton, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Michael Farrell and many more.
"What is immediately arresting about The Best Australian Poems 2017 is the abundance of wit and inventiveness, and the almost overwhelming variety of forms and modes of expression." - The Sydney Morning Herald