Sarah Holland Batt

Beside the fountain’s troupe of sun-bleached rubber ducks, / in the gardens, under a shade sail, / my father is crying about Winston Churchill. / Midway through a lunch of cremated schnitzel ...

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Sarah Holland-Batt’s Fishing for Lightning is a book about Australian poetry. As such, it is a rare, and welcome, bird in the literary ecology of our country. It is welcome because poetry, like any other art form, requires a supportive culture that educates and promulgates. Not that Holland-Batt, herself one of our leading poets, is ‘merely’ didactic, or a shill for the muses. Holland-Batt, who is also an academic, writes with great authority and insight, and she is a fine stylist, penning essays that are packed with humour and playfulness. These essays cater for all kinds of audiences, from newcomers to poetry experts, which is no small feat.

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In the garden, my father sits in his wheelchair / garlanded by summer hibiscus / like a saint in a seventeenth-century cartouche. / A flowering wreath buzzes around his head – ...

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To hell with what you think of me.
I’ve started drinking martinis at three.
I wake, I walk, I write, I sleep.
I snooze the alarm. I doze. I read.

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As my plane drops down in turbulence

I think of you and of Salt Lake City,

I think of ice stealing over the Great Lakes

and of Omaha and of adamant plains.

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Sarah Holland-BattSarah Holland-Batt is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Aria

Sylvia Plath wrote her last letter to the American psychiatrist Dr Ruth Beuscher a week prior to her suicide on 11 February 1963. In it, Plath castigates herself for being guilty of ‘Idolatrous love’, a concept she drew from psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving. ‘I lost myself in Ted instead of finding myself ...

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What are the limits of maternal love? How do children fare in its absence? Is mothering a socialised behaviour or a biological impulse? These are the questions Alice Nelson pursues in her second novel, The Children’s House, which draws its title from the name given to the separate quarters ...

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‘When I was younger even the appearance of “I” on the page made me feel a bit ill,’ Zadie Smith confesses in her new book of essays, Feel Free. Shades of this chariness about the personal pronoun still persist in her non-fiction today, which is markedly self-effacing. From the outset, Smith repeatedly attempts to ditch ...

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To celebrate the best books of 2017 Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser, Susan Wyndham, James Ley, Geordie Williamson, Jane Sullivan, Tom Griffiths, Mark Edele, and Brenda Niall.

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