A POWERFUL and confronting tome of poetry invoking the emotions of grief and loss has been chosen as the winner of the $30,000 Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award for 2023.
The Jaguar, by Sarah Holland-Batt, was praised by award judges for the author’s sustained intensity of imagery in a powerfully coherent collection of poems written around the dying and the death of the poet’s father.
The award is administered by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies based at James Cook University’s Bebegu Yumba Campus in Townsville. The prize is coupled with the H T Priestley Memorial Medal.
“It’s rare for a volume of poetry to be so coherent, it functions as a complete whole, a volume not just a collection,” Chair of the judging panel, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson said.
“The Jaguar is astonishing for its use of rhetorical, poetic and metaphoric language to convey strong, sometimes searing and sometimes intimate emotions.
“Holland-Batt almost overwhelms us as she uses every poetic tool at her disposal to come to terms with her grief.”
Ms Holland-Batt’s poetry collection was chosen from a shortlist of seven and a longlist of 15 books that seeks to reward the best Australian book from any genre.
Now in its 57th year, the Margaret and Colin Roderick Literary Award has the broadest scope of any single Australian literary prize and is one of the longest-running.
The Jaguar has already been recognised by The Australian Book of the Year Award, the Stella Prize, and the Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance.