top of page

The Hazards (2015, UQP)


Winner, Prime Minister's Literary Award

Shortlisted, West Australian Premier's Prize for Poetry

Shortlisted, QLA Judith Wright Calanthe Award

Shortlisted, Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize

Shortlisted, John Bray Memorial Prize

Highly Commended, Wesley Michel Wright Prize

VCE Literature Selection


Opening with a vision of a leveret's agonising death by Myxomatosis and closing with a lover disappearing into dangerous waters, The Hazards reflects a predatory world rife with hazards both real and imagined. Holland-Batt's cosmopolitan poems careen through diverse geographical territory – from haunted post-colonial landscapes in Australia to brutal animal hierarchies in the cloud forests of Nicaragua – and engage everywhere with questions of violence and loss, erasure and extinction.


Charged with Holland-Batt's mercurial imagination and swift lyricism, this unsettling and darkly intelligent collection inhabits an uncertain world with a questioning eye and clear mind, unafraid to veer straight into turbulence.


"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


"[The Hazards] lulls us into comfort, charms us into awe, then undercuts us with danger and the dark...A virtuoso performance." - Sydney Morning Herald


"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 

"A kind of tough lyricism and an exacting use of language makes for dramatic, assertive poetry, dealing with hard love and harder loss. Holland-Batt writes of personal and historic figures, of the hazards of human and animal life, imagining always, often through surprising metaphors, the ‘real and imagined hazards’ of living." – 2016 Western Australian Premier's Book Prize citation

"Holland-Batt’s formal imagination transports the reader fluently through mythological, personal, artistic, geographical and historical landscapes. Violence, caused by the pursuit of beauty or truth, is appraised with virtuosity and unfailing precision... These poems enact their dirges and their duende, in gorgeous, magnificent sweeps where language never reaches its meanings unscathed."  – 2016 Kenneth Slessor Prize citation 


"Strikingly impressive...phenomenally self-confident." - Australian Poetry Review


"Dazzling." – Stephen Romei


"An absolute gem of a collection overspilling with poems of compelling urgency and dazzling accomplishment." – Jaya Savige


“Perhaps the most talented of a whole new crop of outstanding young female Australian poets. Aria was remarkable for its precocious accomplishment and sense of promise. Now Holland-Batt has more than fulfilled those expectations. The Hazards is dense with metaphorical energy…in the service of substantial moral and psychological insights.” – The Australian


"In Sarah Holland-Batt's The Hazards, from 'the promise of Berlin' to the 'mosquito net latitudes' there is style and fashion to relish, but under the skin of these poems we experience metaphors of the world's suffering. It is an exciting second book." – Robert Adamson


"A charged and effortlessly imaginative evocation and intermingling of the world around us and the world within." – Stephen Edgar


"Evocative and startling...The Hazards unearths the dangers we live in and alongside, the dangers we court and hold close to ourselves."  – Westerly


"The Hazards forms a polyptych the tempera of which variously explodes in vivid, violent colours or fades into aquarelle transparency as land- and cityscapes, flora and fauna, friends, family and lovers and works of art live and die and live again in Holland-Batt’s sonorous, delicate music... If you read one just one poetry collection this year..." – The West Australian


"Technically flawless, consistently gorgeous... often unsettling." - Mascara

"Thrilling... The beautiful and the dangerous swim shoulder to shoulder in this book, and are impossible to separate." - Plumwood Mountain

"In some poems, hazard lurks in the margins as dark accident, in others it comes in the form of direct threat. Though these poems range far afield in terms of subject matter, Holland-Batt’s colourful miscellany is corralled into one thematically cohesive volume and afforded a darkly binding gravity through her repeated employment of ‘hazardous’ narrative complication." - Verity La

"Holland-Batt’s intense lyrics describe the natural world with sharp vivacity, as they simultaneously incise the presence of loss and death. With a sensitive and subtle ear, she can invoke Bishop or Heaney or Hughes or Larkin or Lowell, while always tending towards her own singular vision. ‘But this morning I saw a young rabbit/hunched in brush and shadow,’ she writes, ‘It had caught the disease/we brought here for it…’ The beauty and violence of the natural world entwines with an emotional universe." – Judges' citation, 2015 Wesley Michel Wright Prize

'I kept stopping, as I was reading this collection, to audibly exhale, to think, goddamn, this book is good... One of the most surprising, and most impressive things about Sarah Holland-Batt’s The Hazards is that it’s a dangerous book. Surprising may seem a strange choice of word here, given how the collection’s title points towards peril, to thick risk or malevolent chance, but it feels appropriate because 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


Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository | Penguin

bottom of page