The Jaguar (2022, UQP)
With electrifying boldness, Holland-Batt confronts what it means to be mortal in an astonishing and deeply humane portrait of a father’s Parkinson’s Disease, and a daughter forged by grief. Opening and closing with startling elegies set in the charged moments before and after a death, and fearlessly probing the body’s animal endurance, appetites and metamorphoses, The Jaguar is marked by Holland-Batt’s lyric intensity and linguistic mastery, along with a stark new clarity of voice.
Here, Holland-Batt is at her most exacting and uncompromising: these ferociously intelligent, insistent poems refuse to look away, and challenge us to view ruthless witness as a form of love. The Jaguar is an indelible collection by a poet at the height of her powers.
‘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
‘Holland-Batt is one of the best poets writing not only in Australia but anywhere in the world in English. What astonishes is the startling image held in place with a controlled and consistent voice, carrying the reader through confronting and surprising revelation. This is an art of necessity, of belief, and of artisan-like commitment.’ - John Kinsella
‘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
'The poems are intensely moving not only for their tragic content but because of the way in which the subject matter is explored through dramatic and metaphorical ingenuity. Few poets can achieve this level of transformation, allowing their images to move with argumentative force... The poems about her father are among some of the most powerful written on this subject and many readers will be profoundly affected by them.' - The Australian
'A confronting and heartfelt elegy for [the poet's] father, bookended by the devastating end of his life but not forgoing the vivid living of the rest of it – capturing his humanity, his illness and her loss with clarity and love.' - The Guardian
'An affecting meditation on mortality... Holland-Batt's highly metaphorical style has been influential on numerous younger Australian poets – although few seem to equal her almost conversational ease in the medium. In The Jaguar, the poet’s approach is slightly more relaxed – though, paradoxically, more intense. This may be because she has here, in the person of her recently deceased father, more extended and deeply felt material to work with... Importantly, her father’s humanity is not simplified – or sentimentalised in retrospect.' - The Age