AAG Conference

David Wallace Address 2021

Professor Sarah Holland-Batt is a poet, editor and critic and a member of Queensland University of Technology’s Creative Writing faculty. Her most recent book, The Hazards (UQP, 2015), won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry. She recently appeared as a witness at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, where she testified about the abusive treatment and neglect her father has experienced in his aged care facility.

As a critic, she writes for publications including The Monthly and Australian Book Review, and she also contributes commentary, reportage and analysis on aged care issues for media outlets including ABC News, Q&A, 7:30, The Project, The Guardian, The Australian, Inside Story, Radio National and other forums.

Sarah will share her experiences and thoughts around aged care issues.

Sarah is a member of QUT’s Creative Writing faculty. Educated at New York University and the University of Queensland, she is the recipient of a Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, the W.G. Walker Memorial Fulbright Scholarship, residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell colonies in the United States, the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship, an Asialink Literature residency in Japan, and an Australia Council Literature Residency at the B.R. Whiting Studio in Rome, among other honours. In 2016, she was awarded the CHASS Australia Prize for Future Leader in the Humanities.

Her first book, Aria (UQP, 2008) was the recipient of a number of national literary awards, including the Thomas Shapcott Prize for Poetry, the Arts A.C.T. Judith Wright Poetry Prize and the F.A.W. Anne Elder Award, and was shortlisted in both the New South Wales and Queensland Premiers’ Literary Awards for Poetry. Aria was also commended in The Age newspaper’s 2009 Poetry Book of the Year prize, and was a set text on the VCE Literature curriculum from 2011-2014. Her second book, The Hazards (UQP, 2015) won the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize in the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, the AFAL John Bray Memorial Prize, the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards, and the Queensland Literary Awards, and named as a Book of the Year in the Australian Book Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

Holland-Batt’s poems have been widely published in Australian and international literary journals and anthologies and have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Bahasa Indonesian and Japanese; a Spanish translation of The Hazards, Los Peligros, was published with Vaso Roto (Spain and Mexico) in 2018. Holland-Batt was editor of Black Inc’s The Best Australian Poems 2017 and The Best Australian Poems 2016, and the poetry editor of Island, one of Australia’s leading literary journals, from 2014-2019. She also works as an advisor to many industry bodies, and is presently Chair of Australian Book Review. She researches in the area of contemporary Australian and American poetics, with particular interests in the lyric poem; ekphrasis, violence and the abject; and literary representations of ageing, death and aged care. In 2020, supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas and the Copyright Agency, she was appointed as the Poet’s Voice columnist at The Australian; a collection of the first 50 of her columns, Fishing For Lightning: The Spark of Poetry, is forthcoming from UQP in 2021.

In June 2021, Holland-Batt was the first poet to be appointed as the Judy Harris Writer in Residence Fellowship at the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, an honour offered annually to a distinguished Australian writer whose work offers a literary perspective on health and chronic disease.

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